A Different Mind Bending Concept About Tithing
Being a church member, unfortunately, usually breeds passivity. Sadly, we need only “attend” church services to be looked upon as a Christian in most cultures. Attending Sunday morning worship and one activity listed in the bulletin per week satisfies our stature. We are so dependent on the professional staff to do everything, that they “enable” us by doing their job effectively. No wonder we do not feel part of the life of the local church. Usually churches that are professionally programmed driven usually ask only one major form of activity from their casual members; their financial giving. The offering is a central piece of every Christian program. Sometimes pre-offering speeches can be longer than the sermon, and “tithing” is a quarterly sermon theme.
What would happen if we Americans would tithe from what is most precious to them; their time?
What would the church staff do if each and every member in your church was willing to volunteer 4 hours, 1/10th of their 40 hour work week to the church? The staff would probably generate more programs for them to attend! Really, if you have 100 members in your church each giving four hours, what would they do with 400 hours of volunteered time each week? A 500 member church with 1,000 free hours? Sounds like a cell phone plan!
If I would ask that question during a staff meeting I may get suggestions like: janitorial work, building maintenance, shrubbery trimming and clean up, painting, secretarial work, running off bulletins, up dating data base of members for email, newsletters, and mailings, etc., all institutional chores, but what happened to feeding and clothing the poor, caring for the widows in the congregation, hospital and jail visits, etc. Most staff hired by churches are program related where they are highly visible, but who does the invisible tangibles that empower a church? What they would list on a whiteboard as suggestions would show the priorities of that church. With 400 hours a week of volunteering would force a change in priorities.
What would happen if the members spent their volunteer time forming nonprofit businesses in a service sector like a lunch time deli where they would feed and serve their community in a nonchurch financially profitable atmosphere? How about a “Foot Wash”, fancy name for a car wash reflecting the foot washing passion of Jesus to the community, not as a fundraiser for more church activities, but for community benevolence. How about a moving company to help low income families and church families in moving to a new residence? These business would not only produce financial profits, but “help equip the saints for the works of service,” the Ephesians 4 principle as well as produce entry level jobs for young people, the homeless, and those wanting to start a life of financial independence while serving. Actually these acts of service are great evangelistic efforts, touching the secular community, and grafting them and the local church into stronger community bonds.
What impact would volunteered tithing hours have on the elderly if church members did not just visit them for ten minutes on a Sunday afternoon during visiting hours, but instead took them to their doctor and dentist appointments, or helped maintain residential housing that is beyond the physical capabilities of an aging widow, so she can still have the freedom of living in her home instead of being forced into an assisted living situation?
What freedom would it give a parent of a physical or mental handicap child if volunteers would spend time with that child, freeing them to go shopping alone, going to the athletic club for their own health, or just have a badly needed date without the pressures of caregiving 24/7?
These possibilities only scratch the surface; allow your imagination to soar at the possibilities of how “active” how “alive” a local church would be if we tithed from our most sacred resource, our time. I cannot find in the scriptures where Jesus asks for our money, but he does request our time when he says, “Follow me.” “Following Jesus” will always change the way we think of doing church, the way the community sees church, the way the “staff” would have to operate, and the way we would chose church leadership.
What do you think? What impact would “tithing of our time” change the way your church would do “church”? What would “church” then look like? How would the church manage all those volunteers and hours without hiring a “case manager”, another full time professional position? Let’s hear from you!