I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home where I watched my dad sit down at his desk every Sunday morning and write out our family’s tithe check to Biscoe Baptist Church. I did not get saved until I was 25, but his leadership stuck with me, so after I was saved, I started tithing on my and Angie’s net. Then, at age 30, Angie and I started tithing on our gross.
As an adjunct professor of preaching and pastoral ministries classes for Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, I am asked, “Should I tithe off the net or the gross?”
I always respond, “It depends on which one you want God to bless, the net or the gross.”
I teach and preach tithing at Central Baptist Church on a regular basis. Jesus says in Matt. 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The love of money is a heart issue. I share with people publicly from the pulpit that Angie and I tithe off our gross, that we give over and above our tithe to missions and that we give over and above our tithe to Central Baptist construction projects. As a leader, I never ask our people to do something that Angie and I are not willing to do ourselves; tithing is one of those things.
I remember one time early on in my ministry at Central Baptist while preaching on tithing I said, “There are a lot of stolen vehicles sitting in the parking lot at Central today … because many of you are robbing God of the tithe.” You could have heard a pin drop, and I thought to myself, “Well, … that didn’t go very well.”
We challenge people at Central to take the 90-Day Challenge, which means to tithe for 90 days. After that, we tell them if they are not satisfied with their obedience to God and His blessing to come see us and we will give their tithe back to them. The first time we challenged folks, we had 50 new families that accepted the challenge and started tithing. So far, we have never had one person ask for their 90 days of tithing back. We have a required membership class where we explain to all the folks on the front end that they are joining us, rather than us joining them; therefore, as one of our doctrines, we teach and preach tithing from the pulpit, so don’t send me any unsigned letters in the mail.
Most Christians give less than 3 percent of their income to the Lord’s local Church; the tithe is 10 percent. Through the years as a leader of the church, I have learned that everybody likes to spend God’s money on ministry and building new buildings, but not everybody tithes and not everybody gives over and above the tithe to build buildings. I challenge pastors, associate pastors, deacons and lay folks to tithe, and to preach tithing. In most cases, the people who oppose tithing are not tithing. They are living in disobedience. I have never met a person who holds the theological view that tithing is unbiblical who actually gives 10 percent or more of his gross income to the Lord. I am sure there are some, but remember, it takes money to do ministry locally and around the world.
We have missionaries whom the International Mission Board cannot send to the field because of funding, because most people in the local Church do not tithe. God has established a system of giving that funds the sharing of the gospel locally and around the world; we just need to be obedient. I pray that you preachers stand in the pulpit this coming Sunday and “preach the paint off the walls” for His glory!
Archie Mason is president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and senior pastor of Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro. His column appears every month in the print and digital editions of the Arkansas Baptist News. Subscribe here.