Give less to God, more to Others

God doesn't need your money.

People need money.

God can't accept your money.

People who are poor can accept your money.

With these truths being rather self-evident, maybe we should strive to give less to God, and give more to others.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't give money to the local church or world missions, and to help financially support the work that goes into preaching of the Gospel.

Such is entirely Biblical.

I just think we should give more money to those who specifically need it than those that don't.

Such is simply MORE Biblical.

Blindly writing a check every week and putting it in the offering plate and saying you gave to God as a result... not so much.

Some ministers might object to such statements, and insist that you have (or get to!) tithe 10% of your income to the local church. It is there, they say, that God has setup His storehouse in which you are to bring your tithe.

Many preach this really well, but frankly, it's simply not Biblical. And there is nothing in the writings of the New Testament to support the notion that God accepts your tithe by means of a pastor at a church building.

Indeed, the early church didn't even meet in buildings, they met in public outdoor places and in living rooms. So the concept was far from their minds.  The only "house of God" they knew about was the temple in Jerusalem, and they knew that Jesus promised it would be soon be destroyed.  So, it's doubtful that they ever brought very much money there knowing such a thing.

No matter.  Such still won't keep very many pastors from trying to come up with clever ways to link the Old Testament practice of tithing to the New Testament, and induce you to give to them as a result.

As some pastors told me in Bible college and Seminary, whether tithing is required today doesn't matter, they were still going to preach it anyway, because without doing so, many of them were convinced that their doors on their church would close tomorrow, and they would be without a job.

(That was a true story by the way.)   

In case you are not aware:

The "storehouse" of the Old Testament to which people brought their tithes was something akin to a barn and used to store food. When people tithed, they brought livestock and other food stuff there.  It was like a giant community food pantry. They didn't bring money. If they had money, it was to be used to purchase food, and that food was subsequently stored and eaten.

Tithing was primarily a practical means by which God made sure the Levitical priesthood and their families, in exchange for their full-time service in the temple, could have something to eat. For the priesthood and their family were engaged in the service of the temple all day long, and they simply didn't have time to milk cows and plant a garden.

Additionally, because they didn't inherit any land in Israel, they literally had little to no land from which they could cultivate, farm, and support themselves with. All they received from Moses when he divided the land were a couple cities that were designated for the Levites to live in. Without the tithe, they would have literally starved, and they would have been forced to abandon their priestly duties in the temple.

This isn't a problem anymore today, because...

We have no more Levitical priesthood to support anymore.

With the giving of the New Covenant, all of God's people are now priests, and all are called to minister in some fashion. And while it is true that pastors and others have the right to be compensated for their service to God's people, if you read the New Testament carefully, you'll find that folks like the apostle Paul rarely accepted financial assistance in compensation for their ministry.

Instead, the apostle Paul worked, and was self-employed in the leather trade. And he specifically encouraged others to follow his example, as he thought it was the wisest thing to do.  He didn't want people to question his motives for preaching the Gospel, and create a stumbling block for others in the process.  Additionally, he wanted the money that might have normally gone to him, had he demanded it, to go towards the meeting of other more pressing needs than his own.

If you actually study all of the passages that talk about giving in the New Testament (and there are quite a few!), you'll discover that the early church primarily gave their money to feed the hungry, take care of the poor, and to support widows. Very little money seems to have ever been given or received for the purpose of helping pay preachers for their labor.

And NONE of it was ever given to help build auditoriums or cathedrals.

And the church still grew like wildfire in spite of not funding the things we typically spend a lot of money on, and did so for several centuries.  Which leads me to ask...

What would happen if we followed the teaching and pattern of giving practiced in the New Testament by the early church?

Just imagine all the places we live and how our cities and nations would be transformed overnight, if instead of "giving to God," we simply made it an intentional point to be radical in our giving, and looked to give our money directly to the people who actually need it the most.  And in the process, share the Gospel with them.

Can you imagine the witness this would bear for Christ in the community? Can you imagine the platform the church would gain in order to proclaim the Gospel if it had little overhead, and majored in giving?

Let's think outside the box for another moment.

I go to Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. As of December 2013, we received over 25 million dollars in offerings last year according to this audited online financial report from the church.  The church, which is very generous, gave back 12% of that money to the surrounding community.  Not too shabby compared to most other churches.

But, imagine a scenario, that, if instead of using the money we received to support the hundreds of pastors and staff who work at Elevation, and to pay for all the overhead associated with this ministry, that we simply decided as a church to pool all of our money together to end homelessness in Charlotte.

We could do so every year, starting this year!

Impossible you say? Check this out...

According to this report at the Charlotte Observer, as of December 2013, there were 2,418 homeless people in Charlotte. If we took the same 25 million dollars we received last year, and used it to help each of these homeless people obtain an apartment, that means we could give each person every year $10,339.12 (or $861.58 per month), to go towards paying for rent somewhere. For those not from this area, at $861.58 a month, you could easily find a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment to live at in the greater Charlotte area, and possibly have some money left over.

Now, imagine if my church did that. And then imagine if they partnered with other large churches in the area, like Calvary Church, Mecklenburg Community Church, Central Church of God, Forest Hill, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and the dozens of other very large mega churches in our community.

Each of these large churches bring in millions upon millions of dollars every year in tithes and offerings. Collectively, I would speculate that all of the mega churches in Charlotte probably bring in well over 100 million dollars annually.

Just think of all the good works the church could engage in across our community if we collectively partnered together to meet real and pressing needs.

Think of the opportunity it would create for all of us to openly share our faith with people who have been made ready by God to hear what we have to say.

Instead, the trend these days is for us to operate under the assumption that God has called our church to be a big church, with as many venues in as many cities and states as possible, so people can gather together and hear 1 or 2 people dynamic people preach for a couple hours a week, listen to some music, watch some theatrics, and then go home.

And as more and more churches expand their sphere of influence by opening multiple satellite locations, we are literally spending millions of dollars on buildings that just allow people to watch somebody preach the gospel over a jumbo sized TV screen that simply has a live internet feed attached to it.  Truth is, the people could do the same at home in their pajamas at just about any time of the day, and the church could spend a lot less money on overhead in the process.  Last I checked, putting up video's on YouTube was free.

That's not exactly a visionary way to reach people. That's probably just bad stewardship.

There are better ways of reaching out to people and changing the world for Jesus. What is needed is not for a church to pump and prime God's people to tithe and give more and more, so that we can build more and more buildings.  God's people give plenty already.  We already have plenty of buildings.

What is needed is for us to adjust our vision, and to be aware of the opportunity that is all around us. We need to redirect where we give our money.

We need to see the single mom who is having a hard time making ends meet, and give to her.

We need to see the children in our nation who experience hunger on a regular basis, and buy them something to eat.

We need to see neighbor that we know was recently laid off from work, and help him make ends meet for his family.

We need to see the wife, who stays with her abusive husband only because she has nowhere else to go and find safety, and help provide a place of refuge for her to flee too.

We need to see the countless others, whom we often refuse to see, and deliberately make them the recipient of the grace God has given us, so that we can enrich their lives through our joyful and generous giving.

We need to stop being so lazy, and simply dropping our offering in a plate.  We need to reach out of our comfort zones, and really begin to minister as God would have us as the church to minister to those in our community.

We need to give less to God, and more to others.

And in the process, if we find some preachers who are exceptionally gifted and make a regular difference in our life and the lives of others, and help equip a lot of people to do such things, we should consider supporting such men and women. They are worthy of our support... if they will take it.

(Note: I have called out Elevation Church and other churches in the Charlotte area for illustrative purposes only. It's the church I go to. I am not attempting to smear them or otherwise malign them. If you think I'm trying to pick on them, may I kindly advise you to think about something else... like puppies, or whatever else makes you smile.)


  1. I like the cut of yer jib there Jimmy. Good article............Frank

  2. I once was a strong supporter of elevation too. Saying how they give large amounts to the community. Then I realized its all for show. They can write a big check for a tax write off. But attendees of their church they will not help. Theres no benevolence ministry. We found ourselves in a situation and asked our campus past for help. They strung us on for two weeks and asked us to bring our financial statements in go over them And then they tell us "well we dont help like that you need to go to crisis assist we dont help with money" after they embaressed us looked over our finances. When they knew all along they wouldnt help. Why didnt they tell us upfront? And we tithed to them and volunteered. And after we lost of rental they didnt care or ever call. Even though we had a job stsrting and showed them this but had gotten behind due to my husband being layed off and new job didnt start in time. Yet we tithed. That church only cares about there own employees and writing big checks in the city. But if you attend regularly and need assistance dont think about it. Imagine a church this large and how they could have a food pantry or buy apts and offer temporary housing or assistance with power bills. Churches much smaller do while struggling but they follow Gods word. Elevation only cares about the rich and what you can do for them.

  3. I'm sorry to hear about what happened to you. Technically, their money is already tax free, so there isn't really anything to write off on taxes. But, I've heard this before from others that there isn't any official benevolence ministry, and that they simply refer people to Crisis Assistance Ministry... which I understand is where they already donate money to. But that shouldn't stop them from still doing what they can to go "the extra mile" and help somebody that has a genuine need. Especially since their 2013 audited financial statement shows that they have $9 million in cash.

    Were you able to go to Crisis Assistance Ministry for help, and have you since gotten back on your feet?

  4. Elevation may give money to crisis assistance but for a family that has a job but looses it and uses all of their resources but then gets back on their feet and has a job starting but not in time there out of luck. As crisis asist cant give money for deposit or back rent as elevation could with proof that someone is working and has a job....

    1. If you have not already read it, you may want to read a blog post I wrote earlier this year entitled "The Dark Side of Tithing Testimonies." Your story sounds so much like the stories, which I know are abundant, of people who although they tithed, went through bad financial situations that resulted in things going worse for them instead of better. Churches that are big on preaching tithing never tell the stories of people who "tested God" only to seemingly have God "fail."

      Check out: http://kingjimmyunauthorized.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-dark-side-of-tithing-testimonies.html

  5. Yes crisis assis helped with basic needs and our friends who are morman loaned us money. Its sad non christians once again helped us out when our own church cared less. If they couldnt get press for it or fame of course they wouldnt. We are getting back on our feet slowly. It makes me sick the work elevation could do if they werent more concerned with all of the staff parties and staff only kids camp. Imagine if they were the true definition of church. If they had food pantries and assistance for true emergencies. But if pastor steven and holly ever went thru a struggle of where their kids would sleep. But there struggles are which hundreds of dollar shoes to wear only once while preaching.

    1. I am glad to hear you were able to get back on your feet and find help. I don't know the entire story, but I think the church should always be willing to help others, especially those who are its members. I speculate that Elevation would say the reason they have no benevolence ministry is because they use organizations that they donate to, like Crisis Assistance Ministry, to take care of such things, and they feel their partnership with them is enough. However, when it comes to such issues, I personally feel that the church should not feel it is off the hook to help just because there are other organizations out there that provide such assistance. Whenever it is within our power to give to those in need, we should always go the extra mile to help. Especially for those who have labored in the church.

  6. This is one of the reasons I started @elevationwatch as this was one of many reasons why I took my family and as many friends as possible and ran from Elevation. They can give Lysa Turkerst $80k for Proverbs 31, who dont need this kind of donation as they do quite well on their own, but can't assist someone who has served and tithe without fail. As the commenter mentions, Steve Furtick doesnt care about he needs of attendees, he just needs them to give, buy his books, and give up as much of their free time as possible, to grow HIS BRAND. When your Pastor and his wife have personal shoppers at Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms you need to ask yourself who are you serving when you attend and tithe at Elevation.

  7. Elevation could also help a lot of people by re-allocating the money they spend on "play" with their staff. If you've ever been to the offices to visit or even do business, you'll see staff always goofing off: indoor tennis tournaments, staff olympics, scooters, tetherball. I'm willing the staff isn't buying all that stuff with their own pay. Or those wack FOURward events, where they have people come in for useless "breakout" sessions such as sneaker culture and fall/winter fashion for vocalists.

  8. Maybe after we eradicate homelessness, we can get pet unicorns for everyone too.