As we search for a church to attend regularly, should we give our tithe to the churches we've been visiting?
God's Word says in Galatians 6:6, "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor." We take that to mean that if you're being ministered to by a church, and if God has provided you with the financial resources, then you should give to that church whether you're a formal member or not. In other words, when you're visiting churches, giving to those churches seems to be the biblical thing to do.
Look at it this way. The tithe is not a kind of "payment" we make to God. It's a way of acknowledging His ownership of everything we are and everything we have. We give our tithes in recognition of His rights of proprietorship. The local church is simply a vehicle for receiving it. Which local church you give it to is not the important point. What matters is that the Lord is given His due.
Followed to its logical conclusion, this line of reasoning suggests that even if you are a member of a particular church, you should still contribute to the support of any other churches you happen to visit while on vacation or traveling on business, if only because it's a good idea to write a check or put some cash in the offering plate every week as part of the act of worship. Giving weekly reminds us that we are merely stewards of God's resources.
What about giving to other Christian organizations? Is it appropriate to donate a portion of your tithe to missionaries, parachurch ministries, evangelical outreaches, and faith-based charities? We're aware that this is a hotly contested issue in some sectors of the Christian community. Some pastors take a pretty hard line on "storehouse giving" (a term derived from Malachi 3:8-10), which is the idea that the entire tithe should come into the "storehouse" of the local church. As a parachurch organization, it's possible that we aren't in a position to comment objectively – you'll have to make up your own mind on that score. Still, if you want our opinion, our perspective is that any giving to evangelical causes should qualify as part of the tithe amount. We'll qualify that by adding that we feel it's important that the needs of your local fellowship are met first.
For additional help and information on this topic, we'd encourage you to consult the resources and referrals highlighted below. Or if you have relationship concerns and challenges associated with this situation, you're welcome to call our Counseling department.
Where Should I Give My Tithe?: Ron Blue examines the question of whether the entire tithe should be given to one's local church.
Money and Finances