April 14, 2011
CNN: Is Tithing Optional?
NAE survey shows majority of leaders think so.
Results of a survey given by the National Association of Evangelicals to its 100-member board of directors show a minority--42 percent--believe the Bible requires tithing, while the rest do not. Leith Anderson, pastor of Wooddale Church and president of the NAE, said in a prepared statement he was "a little surprised" by the results. In the same statement, David Neff, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today (our sister publication), added, "Anything less [than 10 percent] seems like an ungenerous response to God.”
Not surprisingly, secular media outlets have picked up on the story, ranging from metropolitan newspapers, such as The Denver Post and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to national news networks, such as CNN.
Dan Gilgoff, CNN's religion editor, wrote a short piece detailing the background of tithing and interviewed Dan Olson, who studies tithing as a sociology professor at Purdue University:
[Olson] says the new survey doesn’t mean Christian leaders think those in the pews shouldn’t give.
“Most of those leaders would probably say, ‘you really ought to tithe, but the term ‘requires’ gets at a theological point,” he said.
“Most Christians would say the laws of the Old Testament are not what save you – you’re supposed to be giving out of a spirit of freedom, not because you’re bound to laws,” he said.
On Sunday, CNN hosted Anderson and Pastor Brian Kluth (whose Maximum Generosity founded the annual "State of the Plate" giving survey, which Christianity Today International co-sponsors with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) on "Faces of Faith." The segment was built around this question: Is tithing optional for churches?
How is this question answered at your church? (Based on the comments from "When Tithe Doesn't Mean Tenth," we expect a variety of responses.) With 43 percent of churches reporting increased giving in 2010 (and 39 percent reporting decreased giving), is it a question worthy of discussion between church leaders and congregants?