Tithing and/or giving is a delicate subject. It has the power to split churches down the middle.
It is important though.
According to the 4th Annual State of the Plate Survey of 2012 many ministries saw giving increase because of financial/generosity teaching initiatives. Not only that but many other ministries are looking for proactive and positive ways to teach on finances and faithful giving.
How to teach tithing effectively without being labeled a quack takes a certain kind of leader.
Paul described that kind of leader:
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Timothy 2: 24-26 KJV)
So in this passage Paul lays out what it takes to teach tithing and how to do it effectively.
The first characteristic of that leader is that they must be a servant. This teaching should be more for the benefit of the hearers than anything else. That word “servant” is the Greek word “Doulos.” It means “devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests; his will altogether consumed in the will of another.” The person who teaches tithing/radical giving should be doing it out of complete obedience to God. Not self-interest, but God interest.
The second characteristic is that they be gentle. The word “gentle” is also translated “affable.” “Affable” means “being pleasant and at ease in talking to others; characterized by ease and friendliness.” Because this is such sensitive topic it can’t be forced down anyone’s throat. Threats of condemnation may not be the best way to win over someone who’s on the fence. But the servant of the Lord is gentle (not weak), pleasant, and is at ease when talking to people. They knows that kindness has a powerful way of leading people to repentance.
The third characteristic is that they are apt to teach. Again: the topic of radical giving must be taught, not forced. The leader must have the ability to use Scripture to show God’s Heart for giving. Opinions, traditions, and hearsay are not enough. The Word of God must be the final authority. The cool thing here is that you’re on a site with more than enough Scriptures to help you with this:)
Another point, the real purpose of a teacher is to draw out. In fact its the true meaning of all education. The word “education” comes from the Latin word “educare” which means to “draw out.” So a truly educated person is someone who’s able to get out of them everything placed inside of them. The best teachers are those who understand the concept of pulling greatness out of the student. The Bible says,
“Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.” (Proverbs 20:5 NLT)
In other words, everything a person needs to succeed is inside of them but it takes a person of insight, skill, and wisdom to draw it. As it relates to radical giving, its takes a servant (one whose will is swallowed up in the will of God) with insight, skill, and Godly wisdom to draw out the truths hidden in God’s Word.
The fourth characteristic is that they are patient. That word “patient” is “anexikakos” which is derived from two Greek words “anechomai” (to bear) and “kakos” (bad). So it means “someone who bears evil and sorrow; or someone who is patient of ills and wrongs.” Ironically, the word is used only once in the Bible–in this passage.This goes without saying: teaching the truths of God’s Word brings ills and wrongs. It brings controversy and pain. The leader called to teach this and the truths of God’s Word must find the strength to bear those wrongs and be patient in the process.
But thank God…
“for the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:5 NLT)
And with this comfort we can patiently endure the things that must be suffered to bring people to the fullness of Christ.
The fifth characteristic is that they are sensitive. Not sensitive in themselves but sensitive to the Holy Spirit. This leader knows that once they’ve taught all they can do is leave the rest to God. It’s God who gives grace to acknowledge the truth. Sometimes we as teachers put too much responsibility on ourselves. Yes we are to teach in a simple, effective, and powerful way, but the results of our teaching we leave up to God. Knowing that as we do our best He will step in and handle the rest.
I can’t stress this enough: radical giving is a heart issue. And ultimately, God is the one that controls the heart. It’s our job to present the truth and His job to unveil it.
But don’t worry: He does His job well!
The Ultimate Form of Teaching
Great teaching is an art form. We all agree it takes a special skill. But the ultimate form of teaching was witnessed in Christ. Peter said it like this:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”
The word “example” is the Greek word “Hupogrammos.” It means:
- a writing copy, including all the letters of the alphabet, given to beginners as an aid in learning to draw them
- an example set before one
It comes from the custom of tracing letters for scholars to copy. Ironically, the only time this word is used is in this verse.
As it relates to Christ, it simple means that He is our example in word, deed, and thought. But the person teaching on giving, the question is this: are you living what you’re preaching?
The best way to teach radical giving is to be a radical giver.
Unfortunately most ministries/ministers that crave radical giving aren’t themselves radical givers.
Rather than having a mindset for the broader community or the larger world most only have an inward focus: our church and our members, we’ll get to the outside community when we have a chance. In fact according to Tom Rainer , CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, over 95% of money, time, and resources go towards members of the church rather than the outside community.
Teach all you want. Use all the resources you can use. But just remember: people learn more by what you do than by what you say.
Are there any other ways to teach tithing like a rock star? What strategies have you used or seen?