Time can't be substituted for money
The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt. and 867 Highway 40:
There are many different understandings of the word "tithe." In the church, a tithe refers to giving 10 percent of one's income or accumulated wealth to the work of the church and other service organizations. A lot of people give offerings, but very few actually tithe.
The question implies, however, whether or not we can substitute our time for money. My answer is no. As we look at the teachings of Jesus and how the early church was established, we find no evidence to indicate that time and talents were an acceptable substitute for money.
Jesus talked about money frequently and called his followers to "deny themselves." Many of his parables teach that sacrificial giving is an important aspect of discipleship. Likewise, the Apostle Paul was dependent upon the sacrifices of individual people and churches for the spreading of the gospel.
I can't speak for other churches, but when someone joins our church they make a commitment to "faithfully support the ministries of the church by their prayers, their presence, their gifts and their service." This balanced, faithful support is what has allowed us to serve the Lawrence community for the past 154 years. Could we have done it on service alone with no buildings, no pastors and staff, and with none of the other assets of the church? Not in the way that we have.
All that said, we have an understanding God. God understands that we go through different phases in our lives when we are able to give more in one area over the others. I think the key word is "balance." We need to find balance in the giving of our time, talents and treasures.
- Send e-mail to Tom Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gospels address importance of money
Rob Martin, pastor, Lawrence Vineyard Church, 1141 Mass.:
Money and the church do not have a pleasant history. Unfortunately, some ministries have abused the teaching of giving and the use of the ministry's money to the point that some individuals believe churches are only concerned about money. Having personally grown up in a church like that, I don't blame people for thinking that way.
However, Jesus Christ addresses money issues approximately 40 different times in the Gospels. He even affirmed the giving of the tithe (Luke 11:42). To not talk about money is to ignore something Jesus thought was important.
Why is money important? Money is one of God's curricula. Through money, God teaches us to not hold onto stuff so tightly. Jesus frequently told us to give it away because it holds us back from receiving God's word, pulls our attention away from him, and can corrupt our hearts.
It is how we give, not how much we give, that is the thermostat of the warmth in our heart toward God and others. If we are giving just to fulfill our obligation, then God would rather us not give at all! Instead, when we give out of the abundance of gratitude we have, the question is not how little, but how much.
Service is similar. Jesus was always serving people. Even when he was tired, he would take the time to stop and be with someone. Did he teach one was a substitute for the other? No, he did not. We are to do both.
We should give sacrificially to the work of God. It breaks the hold that materialism has over us. We should also serve God by serving people. This work will humble us and help us keep a proper perspective on what God has done for us.
- Send e-mail to Rob Martin at email@example.com.