The Penn Speaks: The Controversy of Money in the Church. Where Do Those Funds Really Go?


There was a person I knew — Sally Sue for our purposes — going through a legal dispute which required an attorney, and Ms. Sue reported to me that her attorney heckled her about the amount of money she gave to the church. That amount being her tithes, Ms. Sue explained to her attorney that 10% of one’s income is what God asks His followers to give to the church. Unsatisfied with that answer, the attorney spit back, “And you’d rather give that money to the church than give it to me,” implying that legal services are worth more than the church and any command God could ever give. This brings us to our key text coming out of Deuteronomy 26:11 –13 (KJV). The word of the Lord reads:

11 And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. 12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; 13 Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.

Other Biblical passages discussing tithes

Many people feel the same way as Ms. Sue’s attorney — that pouring money into the church is a total waste. However, that could not be farther from the case. First and foremost as stated in God’s word, our giving represents our rejoicing gratitude to God for blessing us with everything we need and even some things we want.  Tithes say to God, “I’m so grateful that you provide for me an my family that I want to take a portion of what You gave me, and use it to be a blessing to others.” The latter portion brings us to the next point. God asks His followers to give 10% of their income to the church and the mission(s) thereof in order to help those in need. We should not be selfish and hoard all of God’s blessings to ourselves. We should be using our blessings to be a blessing to others.

The common argument against the latter — maintained by non-believer AND believers alike — is that pastors spend money from the congregation on fine cars and suits rather than on the needy. Whereas we hear about some of these unfortunate cases in the news, we must not make the mistake of generalization. Just because some pastors do that, it does not by any means indicate that all pastors function in such a manner. In fact, many churches offer different categories to which one can give, so people can know what ministries their money is going to. There is the general category of “tithes and offering” where such funds are used for the purposes indicated in the passage above — giving to the less fortunate. There is the “love offering” category that represents funds used to help support the pastor and his family. During seasonal times, there may also be a category called “the building fund” that people can give to in order to help pay for a much needed new sanctuary.

The other thing people need to keep in mind is that God holds individuals accountable for their actions. That said, if God requires of us 10% of our income, we’d better give it. Make sure you are in good standing with God, because He is the One we answer to. It is then up to the church leaders to handle the funds properly. If they misappropriate funds, THEY answer to God. With this in mind, Ms. Sue was right to give her tithes to the church and not listen to the attorney. Please also note that Ms. Sue did indeed pay for the legal services she received. All in all, let us not be greedy and neglect to give to the Lord what He asks of us. We have 90% to do with whatever we please. Ten percent is the least we can allocate to help those in need. Have a blessed day!


Ayvaunn Penn is an award-winning writer and the author of Ephemeral Moments, a book of poetry and short stories from the Christian perspective, available on in the fall of 2013. She is also the founder of Your Black Poets. To receive Ayvaunn’s daily Bible devotionals by email, click here. Click to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


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