17 April, 2007

Church Experiments with Having Members File "Tithe Returns"

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

For the past 3 years annual giving has steadily declined for Park Hills Church of Christ in Memphis. Although the number of church members has grown slightly, the church's giving has gone down almost 25% since 2004, which has pastor Drew Morgan both confused and concerned.

"I'm not sure what's going on." Stated Morgan. "Our membership has gone up as well as our attendance. I'm not aware of anyone in our congregation having any particular financial struggles. People just haven't been giving like they used to."

Since the beginning of this year, because of the drop in giving, the church has been running into some financial struggles, unable to meet a number of requirements. The church's facilities currently need work in a number of areas, but because of the lack of funds the repairs have not yet been made.

"I started preaching on giving and tithing back in February to try to encourage people to start giving more, but nothing seemed to work." Said Morgan. "No matter what I've said giving keeps declining."

Morgan, as well as the church's deacons, recently agreed that something must change if the church was to continue to function. So in a recent meeting of the deacons board, the deacons and Morgan devised a plan to help "boost" and "encourage" giving.

"This may sound strange, but we got our inspiration from the government." Said deacon Mike Hall. "This is the time of year that everyone is thinking about taxes, filing their returns and such. So we came up with the idea of our members filing 'tithe returns' to see who needs to boost their giving."

"We have lots of people in this church who are taking advantage of goods and services that we provide, but do not contribute." Said Morgan. "They're drinking the church's coffee and eating the church's donuts before Sunday School. They're eating the food on family nights, going on missions trips, and relaxing in free air conditioning, but they're not giving to the work of this church. It's time this stopped. This will encourage them to do their part."

So this year the church will require each member to file a "tithe return." Each active church member will be given a form that he or she must fill out stating his or her gross income, how much tithe he or she paid, and any other gifts or offerings he or she made to the church. If the total number of offerings do not equal at least 10% of the member's adjusted income then he or she may owe the church money. Failure to do so may result in church discipline, loss of membership and possible refusal to transfer membership to another church.

"Once we get these returns then we'll know where the deficit is coming from, and which members aren't doing their part to help." Said Hall. "If they owe, all they have to do is pay by cash or check. And if they don't, well, we'll just have to deal with that. I can guarantee you this though, they won't be drinking our coffee and eating our donuts next Sunday."

The plan was announced this past Sunday after the morning worship service. Members were given the forms, which they hesitantly accepted, as they left the church. All members will have until June 15th to file their tithe returns, unless they file for an extension.

8 comments:

Bewildered Berean said...

Actually not too far from the truth. A local mega-church in my area sent out a letter to it's mailing list asking the attenders to disclose their yearly income. The reasoning was so that the pastor and board could determine if an expansion of the childrens ministry facilities could move forward.

Julia said...

First, I really enjoy this site, thank you! I think another profitable idea would be to borrow from the hugely successful credit card companies - offer cash back rewards! For every dollar that you tithe, the church will repay you back 1%, or extra donut-credits, whichever is more desirable...

maxwasatch said...

in seminary, one of our profs gave us a from very similar to that. a pastor had given it to him to pass out in class, so he did, but we basically made fun of it.

the sad part is that most people do not realize that the OT tithe was really 10% of all possessions, 3x a year, plus another time every few years. basically, it would be about 32% of all possessions every year, not just income. its too bad for us ministry people that the commandment to tithe was not repeated in the NT.

I also know of a (mega)church in my area that requires members to give 10%. they check on income to make sure that you do. if you dont, they will remove your membership. most of those who attend are not members.

jbbaab said...

whatever happened to the concept. don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. What about 2 corinthians 8:8 when paul is talking about giving and he states "not of a commandment"? http://churchtithesandofferings.com

jbbaab said...

whatever happened to the concept. don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. What about 2 corinthians 8:8 when paul is talking about giving and he states "not of a commandment"? http://churchtithesandofferings.com

Tominthebox News Network said...

Hey Jbbaab,

Thanks for taking a moment to read and respond. The verse which you mentioned is completely ignored in the imaginary world of humor and satire.

-Tom

Sewing said...

Ooooh, this one is too uncomfortably close to reality to be funny!

Jim Pemberton said...

This satire is very close to the truth. Most churches I know have this problem. They do pledges and tithing programs, preach sermons on giving, etc. The dirty little secret is that it's not about the money. The church I'm at now doesn't do pledges or preach on giving for the budget. We do fundraising for missions and teach classes on financial responsibility. However, we address the spiritual foundation behind tithing and the tithing as well as a host of other potential issues take care of themselves. The church is growing steadily and giving increases continue to outpace budgetary increases each year. We are truly blessed.