Tithing

Testimonial: A Leap of Faith

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Several decades ago, when I was raising my children and growing in involvement at my church, disaster struck the parish budget. Our annual Greek festival, without which our parish could not survive, only broke even because of a weekend of torrential rains and high winds. That’s the year we started talking about making the change—the leap of faith, really—to total stewardship. Eventually we decided to go ahead and do it, no longer holding a festival and asking parishioners for stewardship to cover the operating budget.

I was a part of the fledgling stewardship committee, and the discussions we had in the Board room inevitably led to discussions at our kitchen table. When I suggested that our own family take the same leap of faith the church was taking—that is, that we work toward tithing—my spouse resisted, at first. We were people of modest means, raising a large family, how could we possibly afford to tithe? Read More →

The Publican and the Pharisee

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee: Triodion Begins

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As we enter the three weeks of preparation for Great and Holy Lent, the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee are particularly pertinent to the themes of EveryGoodandPerfectGift.org. In this blog, we strive to bring together resources that will inspire Orthodox Christians to greater giving back, especially of their treasure. However, we would do well to remember the Pharisee who gave tithes of all he had, and yet he was not justified. As Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew concerning almsgiving, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

As we practice the spiritual discipline of giving tithes and offerings, let us learn from the mistake of the Pharisee, who “… in his pride, … has falsified the meaning of true religion and faith. He has reduced these to external observations, measuring his piety by the amount of money he gives.” And, like the Publican, let us humble ourselves before God. “He humbles himself, and his humility justifies him before God. He becomes, in the words of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3), ‘poor in spirit.’ Our preparation for Lent thus begins with a prayer for humility, the beginning of true repentance.”

Quotes taken from the Great Lent resources page, The First Sunday of the Triodion Period: Sunday of The Publican and Pharisee, at goarch.org.

The Gospel of Luke 18:10-14

The Lord said this parable, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

New Study on Orthodox Christian Giving

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The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America recently announced the release a new study, “Exploring Orthodox Generosity: Giving in US Orthodox Parishes.” The 138-page report is accompanied by a brief summary that shares the highlights of the study. The study was prepared by the Assembly’s research coordinator, Alexei Krindatch (find the entire announcement on the Assembly’s website).

Highlights from the study include:

  • In 2014, a typical (median) Orthodox household gave $2000 to its local parish community in regular giving. That is, half of all Orthodox households gave more than $2000 per year and half of them gave less than that to their parishes.
  • The degree of involvement with a parish is a very strong predictor of how much people give to their churches.
  • Personal beliefs and personal theology have a very strong impact on how much a Church member gives to his/her parish. Church members who state that “using the money and material possessions in ways that please God” is part of their spiritual life give on average 2.5 times more to their parish communities than persons who hold the view that “money and material possessions have nothing to do with spiritual and religious issues;”
  • Parishes that encourage members to be more generous because it will enhance church’s mission and create more opportunities for spiritual growth receive MUCH HIGHER contributions from parishioners than the parishes asking members to give because various needs of a parish community should be addressed.
  • [T]he top three methods that an Orthodox parish can employ in order to inspire parishioners to give more are: a) greater social outreach into local community, b) stronger emphasis on mission and evangelism programs, and c) creating joint programs and ministries with other nearby Orthodox parishes.

 

The Multiplying Our Gifts Challenge

A case study of a parish giving program

Fr. P. has done a lot of thinking, reading, and praying on the subject of stewardship. At the small, urban parish to which he had been recently assigned, finances were said to be a constant challenge. The giving paradigm long in place was membership dues with several fundraisers throughout the year to fill in the budget gaps. The overwhelming perception at the parish was that there was never enough money, and no more could be raised in the small community.   Read More →

Testimonial: How Much Should We Give?

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As a newlywed, becoming a steward of an Orthodox church for the first time in my adult life, I first asked the question: “How much should we give?” When I put the question to the church office administrator, she knew from experience that what I really meant was, “What do most people give?” Giving at my new parish was on a stewardship model, so there was no minimum or membership fee. I wanted to know what the right amount was for the privilege of attending services and having the priest available for our needs, something like a membership fee to other organizations in our life. But, to be honest, I also didn’t want to give “too much.”  Read More →

almsgiving challengeWill anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings!  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you! Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. (Malachi 3:8-10)

Testimonial: A Change of Heart

Many years ago, I dug into the concept of tithing to prove a Protestant friend wrong. She tithed, as most in her church seemed to do. Arguing that Old Testament rules didn’t apply to modern-day Christians, I researched tithing from an Orthodox Christian perspective to bolster my side of our pending debate.

A little-known passage in Genesis 14 was one of the things I came upon. In short, the story goes that after Abram returns victorious from battle, the king and priest Melchizedek brings out bread and wine and blesses Abram. After receiving the blessing, the passage ends with these words: “And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20). Read More →

$tewardship or S+ewardship

[W]hen most of us hear or read the word “Stewardship,” we instinctively think of it spelled as “$tewardship,” a code word for giving money to church. It may be politely asked for. It may be clothed in pious language. It may be linked to giving of time and talents. But, in the end, stewardship still means, for most of us: “I must give some of my money so that we can operate the church.”

However, we may have not yet learned to spell this key word as “S+ewardship.” The Bible from beginning to end identifies what we now call stewardship as a way of life centered on God. And for Christians, this means discipleship centered on Jesus Christ as Crucified and Risen Lord. The cross thus dramatically signifies both our identity as disciples of Christ and our calling to a life of sacrificial giving directed toward God, others, and all creation. Read More →

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