Question: “My church won’t let me serve unless I tithe. Is this Biblical?”
Answer: In some churches today, congregants are required to practice monetary ‘tithing’ in order to serve in ministry. This presents a problem for poor believers and for believers who know that monetary-tithing isn’t Biblical. They find themselves banned from serving, and in some cases, removed from a position, and even removed from the church, once it is discovered that they don’t practice or believe in monetary-tithing.
Although seemingly ‘noble’ reasons are given for requiring believers to give 10% of their paycheck in order to participate in ministry — this “pay to play” requirement contradicts the word of God on the subjects of tithing, New Covenant giving, and the priesthood of all believers.During the Old Covenant, the priesthood was limited to the male descendants of Aaron. But in the New Covenant, God has anointed and gifted the entire body of Christ as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9, 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:6-8). The New Testament shows that the apostles expected Believers to exercise their gifts accordingly and fulfill their ministry.
In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul wrote that the purpose of leadership is to equip the rest of the saints to do the works of ministry. The apostles welcomed the active participation of believers in ministry. Nowhere in their writings or the entire New Testament does it teach that one’s participation in the priesthood of all believers is contingent upon practicing monetary-tithing.
The requirement to tithe money in order to serve is unheard of in the Old and New Testament. It undermines the priesthood of all believers, quenches the Holy Spirit, shows partiality (favoritism) to certain believers, and brings sorrow to those who are stirred up to do good works and want to serve.
If this monetary-tithing requirement existed in Biblical times, our Savior would not have been qualified to serve — because He did not tithe during His earthly ministry. Jesus was not required nor able to tithe because He was too poor, and He did not own any crops, herds, and flocks to tithe from (the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head).
Peter the apostle would not have been qualified to serve either, because he was poor. On one occasion, Peter didn’t even have any money to give to a crippled beggar — but he did have the power of the Holy Spirit and the Good News. “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)
The practice of monetary-tithing is a man-made tradition. It contradicts both the tithing laws and New Covenant giving. It is preposterous for a religious organization to require believers to practice an unbiblical tradition in order to serve in ministry. In fact, it is hypocritical.
Jesus spoke against the observance of false traditions in the Gospels. The apostles also spoke against placing God’s people in a yoke of bondage to Old Covenant ordinances (Acts 15, Galatians). Requiring believers to tithe their income in order to serve is no different than requiring them to keep the law of physical circumcision, the dietary laws, or the sabbath laws in order to serve.
I pray that believers in such organizations find healthy Biblical New Covenant fellowships, where the priesthood of all believers is encouraged (not just verbally or in a statement of faith) but also lived out. . . where serving in ministry is not contingent upon keeping false traditions of men mixed with the law of Moses, but based upon knowing Christ and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.