COMMITMENT

Trusted Stewards

As a church administrator I am asked many questions. One of my least favorite is, “How has my tithe been used?” The dilemma I face is whether I should first correct the question, and in doing so, be seen to avoid answering the question.



A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.”

Leviticus 27:30

Is it is correct to

refer to “my tithe” and imply an ongoing ownership interest in tithe? The Bible

says that tithe is holy. Leviticus 27:30 says, “ ‘A tithe of everything from

the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the

LORD; it is holy to the LORD.”

Should we be so bold as to claim an ongoing ownership right over what is

God's holy property and call it “my tithe”?



It is important

that church members and administrators alike remember that tithe is holy.

Malachi 3:101 is probably the most quoted portion of Scripture in

the Seventh-day Adventist Church with regards to tithe. We emphasize

faithfulness by church members to return tithe. It is then assumed that church

administrators will remember that tithe is holy and won’t need any ongoing

reminder of that.



Indeed, church

administrators must not forget that tithe is holy and that they have a

stewardship responsibility that goes beyond the offering plate. It is not just

another source of income to balance the budget or with which to do whatever the

organization sees fit. Tithe must be administered as a sacred fund and only

used for approved purposes. It is not intended as something that will bring

members or leaders personal benefit either directly or indirectly. Experience

shows that members will occasionally seek a special personal benefit from the

church with the justification that they pay tithe. They threaten that if they

don’t get what they are asking for then they will withhold their tithe. Tithe

is not a bargaining chip because it not ours to bargain with. Tithe is also not

meant to be used to make life more comfortable for church administrators either

personally or by directing tithe resources in a way that makes problems just

‘go away,’ making administration

easier or more popular.



Tithe should primarily be used to support individuals paid by the Church and directly engaged in pastoral and evangelistic soul-winning activities.”

General Conference policy (V14 05)

I have found a

personal stewardship wakeup call based on what was said of leadership in

Ezekiel’s times. Ezekiel 34: 32 and 33: 63 are sobering.

They say that as an administrator I could be held accountable for the things I

have not done or that I should have attended to. Ezekiel 34:104 says that God is against leaders who

look after themselves with church resources and neglect the gospel commission

to make disciples.



What should

therefore be the focus when administering tithe when there are seemingly

unlimited and competing needs in a budget? General Conference policy (V14 05)

says, “Tithe should primarily be used to support individuals paid by the Church

and directly engaged in pastoral and evangelistic soul-winning activities.”

Policy allows each world division to set the minimum percentage of gross tithe

to be used locally for front line ministry and evangelism, taking into account

the varying circumstances in the division. In the South Pacific Division, a

careful study led to the policy that, by 2016, at least 55 percent of gross

tithe must be used in front line ministry and evangelism. At 55 percent, this

still leaves 45 percent for administration, resourcing, and the sharing of

tithe outside of the local area. Some organisations are already above 55

percent for this use, and for others, it is a challenge to their comfort

zones.



Tithe must be spent

on ministry and it is not meant to be accumulated for investment purposes. If

tithe is not spent in one financial year, it must be tracked in subsequent

years until it is spent on approved expenses. Unspent tithe in one financial

year is not transformed into “non-tithe” in subsequent financial years. In my

experience, tithe is normally used in the same week or within three months of

its receipt, and tracking it long term is usually not a major exercise.



The stewardship responsibility of administering tithe does not vest just in the treasurer but also in every member of the governing board.

As stewards

administering tithe, we must be accountable and able to show that tithe is only

used for expenses that have been approved by the church and outlined in General

Conference policy.The stewardship responsibility of administering tithe does

not vest just in the treasurer but also in every member of the governing board.

To assist with this, financial reports are prepared to show what tithe funds have

been received and how they have been used. In the South Pacific Division these

reports are included as part of the official financial statements and budgets

by organizations that receive tithe. Preparing and using these reports is a

reminder that tithe is holy and not just general income to be used for any

purpose—no matter how good that purpose may be. Conferences should also regularly report to their membership the tithe

income received and how it has been spent.



It is a privilege

to be entrusted with the responsibility of being a steward administering tithe.

Accountability and reporting should be welcomed as it is both an opportunity to

affirm faithfulness and to share the wonderful system that is in place to use

tithe for ministry both locally and by the global church community. When

members can see that church administrators are leading by example and being

faithful stewards, it will build confidence and faithfulness amongst the

membership in the organization.



1. Mal 3:10: "Bring

the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test

me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the

floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room

enough for it."

2. Eze 34:3: "You

eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice

animals, but you do not take care of the flock."

3. Eze 33:6: "But if

the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the

people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be

taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his

blood."

4. Eze 34:10: "This

is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them

accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the

shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their

mouths, and it will no

longer be food for them."



Rod Brady
Rodney Brady is the

treasurer of the South Pacific Division. He has served the church in the South

Pacific Division holding financial positions in institutions, conferences,

union and division. His focus and motivation is assisting the church to use the

resources it has been blessed with to effectively accomplish its mission.

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