I get asked a lot about tithes and offerings, as there are far too many differences in points of view from both the secular and church-going believers. Some say the tithe is Old Testament legalism that no longer applies to the New Testament church, while others spend half their service sounding like a debt-collector for Jesus, making ungodly claims that amount to nothing more than "buy-a-blessing."
In my years of ministry, I have witnessed just about everything when it comes to the subject of tithes and offerings, and I'm here to tell you that most churches don't get it! They misuse and abuse their parishioners with threats of displeasing God if they don't tithe or give the church their hard-earned money.
Here is the fact about tithing:
All of heaven and earth and all the contents of heaven and earth belong to God. This includes money and resources. Even the air we breathe belongs to God.
Granted tithing is an Old Testament requirement of the Law, in which God's chosen people, the Jews, were to give 10% of the first fruits of their labor. If one was a rancher, he would be required to bring a 10th of his best livestock to the temple as a tithe, for example. In the New Testament, tithing is never mentioned, despite what the majority of Christians think.
Giving, however, is mentioned throughout the New Testament. But a specific amount is not designated. Yet, the majority of churches have automatically adopted the minimum 10% tithe designated in the Old Testament.
Nonetheless, I do believe strongly in giving a minimum of 10% in tithing because it is sacrificial and beneficial to the body of Christ overall. Most importantly, giving is an act of worship that should be in accordance with 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, as follows:
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
You can never out-give God. And your intention for giving shouldn't be to score points or boast about the difference you are making in the kingdom! Rather, it should be an act of worship and gratitude - paying it forward, if you will.
Out of the bounty that God gives you, you should give to help others in need, showing them how they, too, should be givers.
Where then should you tithe?
Be careful! Not all churches are good fields in which to sow your seed. Nor are all charities. Pay close attention to where and how they spend their money. Are they being good stewards of the funds donated?
Here is a good example:
Most major national charities have highly paid CEOs making over $500,000 per year. Some mega churches have senior pastors making well over six figures, solely from the church, also.
Albeit many do great works and provide resources to the people in need, their overhead is quite extensive and donor dollars may only be 40-50%, meaning only half of your actual donation or tithe actually benefits the people in need directly. The rest is consumed in overhead, salaries, etc.
There is nothing wrong with a pastor having a decent income and nice house. However, if he wants to make the big bucks and drive a fancy car, that money should come from outside sources or other work he is performing and earning - not the parishioners' pockets.
Check the financials (often found online) to determine if an organization is good ground for God's money.
Most importantly, pray about where God would have you give. After all, if you are doing it to worship and honor Him, then why not ask Him where He wants His money to go! He's the owner, you are the merely the manager of His resources. That's it!
I highly recommend giving to a local church that feeds the people in your community and then providing offerings above your tithe to other charities. However, if you don't have a local church worthy of such, then find a great charity.
Here is a great church I know first-hand and they are not only excellent managers of God's resources, but they are overwhelmingly generous to His people in need: Meadowbrook Church in Ocala, Florida.
Donate online, and I know for a fact every last penny will go to help not just people in their community, but around the world. Visit their website to see what great works they are doing to help with international hurricane relief efforts, for example.