Do I have to give all 10% to my church or can I spread it around?
Invariably, as one commits to following after Jesus and is around others that also follow Jesus, there will come a time when one is asked to financially support another ministry endeavor be it locally or abroad. This “ask” occurs because the local church has not performed all that is expected of her and a need remains. The question is, “What do I do when presented with such a need and yet only have limited resources to give? Should I give 7% to my church and 3% to the missionary or should I give it all all to the church?” This is a weighty question and one that each of you will need to answer personally.
Second Corinthians 9:7 instructs, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind.” Assuming that you are eager to give and genuinely interested in supporting the Lord’s work, know that the Lord will see the intention of your heart. You cannot go wrong when looking to support what He is doing. Having said that (and presuming you are constrained in the amount you give), the question becomes, “How can I best steward what has been entrusted to me?” The answer to that is found in Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
When you give to your local church you benefit from this abundance of counselors, a plurality of leaders seeking God to make wise decisions, and in that find safety. You know that there is a ton of need for kingdom work, but are not sure which to support? Why not share that responsibility with others who will be called on by God to give an account for their actions? There is safety in giving your full tithe to the church because you know it will be directed to where a plurality of elders & leaders believe there is the greatest need.
Further, while ministries external to the church have had to exist because the church has not fulfilled all of her calling, the church will struggle ever more to do so if it does not have financial resources. For example, 200 families in our church could choose to give $25 per month to support a missionary outside of our church. That would mean there are some 200 missionaries or Christian workers having to raise an additional $59,700 in order to begin their work. Should those 200 families in our church give that $25 to our Salem Chapel Network, we would be able to launch a fulltime worker immediately. A worker who we would all know and would give an account to our leadership. We could ensure that they were being good stewards of what has been entrusted to them.
All that to say, in order to maximize your kingdom giving, I think you should bring your full tithe to the church and prayerfully consider supporting external missionaries in addition to your tithe. Practically, this allows you to graciously explain why you are not able to support each and every request that is made of you. Personally, after you have committed your first 10% to your local church you should prayerfully consider each request that comes your way. Certainly, there will be cases where the Lord challenges you to give above and beyond 10% and you should be open and willing to do so. Bottom line, give your church your tithe (the first 10%) and other missionaries your support (gifts over and above your tithe).
Check out answers to other Tithing: What Gives? questions: Do I have to give 10%? and Do I give based on net or gross salary? For more information on biblical stewardship, see our sermon series The Wise Steward or for answers to specific questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.