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What is a tithe? How should a tithe be conducted during a service?
Thank you for your questions regarding tithing.
Tithing within a Christian context traces its roots back to the Old Testament Covenant between God and the people of Israel. It was intended to have a twofold purpose: first, to acknowledge that all material good came from God (i.e., food, homes, wealth) through returning a proportion of what God had given for His direct use.
The second function was to enable the maintenance of the intercessory ministry of the Priesthood, and their supporting helpers the Levites. The tribe of Levi had no inheritance with the other tribes descended from Jacob/Israel, but were given the function of interceding for and representing Israel to God, and more importantly, God to Israel. As such they didn't have time to cultivate land, etc., and so the other tribes "tithed" - that is provided 10% of their annual harvest, life stock, etc. for the maintenance of the Levites and priests, and as an acknowledgement of the complete sovereignty of God in their lives. They would also have to give sacrifices and other things which probably meant their 'tithe' was closer to 20% of their income.
In the New Testament era (i.e. the present age of God's dealing with men) we still need to acknowledge God's sovereignty in our lives.
Jesus said: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money". (Matthew 6:24).
However, there is no clear teaching on the amount to be given in the New Testament. There is no percentage given. Instead we hear teaching like:
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
The New Testament teaches that giving should be sacrificial, but never compelled; the amount you give is to be determined personally through careful assessment of your means and needs (you also need to be clear on luxuries!), and then given willingly and gladly. You may choose to tithe and it is entirely a matter for your own conscience through the wisdom of God. You may choose to give more or less than 10%, or vary it each month. Regardless, trust God in your finances.
With regard to how it should be collected, there is no definite instruction in the New Testament for Christian churches. Some people believe every church service should include a collection as an expression of giving ourselves to God and as a reminder of the need to give, but there is no mention of doing this in every service. How you give is probably best left to the local church leadership.
There are different ways tithing might be done with modern banking, unlike in ancient societies when the only way was to present money or other gifts. For example, some people in the UK give by a direct debit payment each month, outside of the service, and that helps the Church. I would encourage you to pray about it and make the best decision for your Church.
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