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Ask Dave

Church Pushback

Michael and his wife go to a small church where they tithe, but they are continuously asked to contribute to other charities and causes. What should they do? Dave tells him a couple of things to watch out for.

QUESTION: Michael in Georgia and his wife go to a small church where they tithe, but they are continuously asked to contribute to other charities and causes. They don’t have the money to do all of them while sticking to their budget, and they get aggressive pushback when they say no. What should they do? Dave tells him a couple of things to watch out for.

ANSWER: What would be the reaction if you said, “Gosh, that sounds like a really good program, and someday we’ll be able to participate in that kind of a program. Right now, our tithe is all we’re committed to because we’re trying to clean up our own household first, which is scriptural. So I’m sure you guys understand we just can’t do any more than the tithe right now.”

I wouldn’t go well with pushback, I’m afraid. I would be nice a few times. Then after that I would say, “Well, you need to mind your own business.” Honestly, what they’re saying then is, “I need your money.” It’s really over the top. When somebody becomes that manipulative and that pushy to where they come back at you with “You just need to dig deep. You just don’t have enough faith,” after you’ve given them a firm but kind no . . .

“Well, I’ve got plenty of faith and I’m actually following a scriptural plan here to get myself out of debt. I’m sorry you feel that way, but we won’t be giving to that.” And after you do that two or three times, they’ll probably leave you alone. You’ve just got to be kind.

The other thing that you need to dig into and you need to think about is if every time they have an impulse they turn it into buy something because they didn’t plan for it in their annual budget at the church, if every time they have an impulse and they call that the Holy Spirit or every time they have an impulse, their answer to that is, “You need to fund this impulse and that’s called faith,” I’m going to start to have a problem with leadership at that point because they’re not leading well. They’re leading with an immaturity because they’re not doing good planning, which is scriptural—do good planning, the Bible says. Don’t build a tower without first counting the cost. You ought to have an annual budget.

That’s not to say God can’t move on that, and it’s not to say that sometimes the Holy Spirit, but basically, some of these churches—they lay out a general game plan and then they jump from impulse to impulse then. And I don’t know if that’s what’s going on here, but at some point you need to probably push back on leadership as to their style of financial management and how scriptural it is. But you do that very gently and very calmly.

Your first goal is just to protect your house and just say, “I can’t do this right now.” By the way, you’re scriptural in doing that. Take care of your own household first. The offering is in a different category than the tithe is. Around Christianity, we always say tithes and offerings, tithes and offerings almost like it’s one word, and it’s not one word. It’s not one concept. They’re two very different concepts. Offerings are from surplus, meaning that you have your family doing well first, which is take care of your own household first or you’re worse than an unbeliever. You’ve got to do that first before you do offerings, but tithes are off the top—first fruits are off the top. It’s a different category from a Bible study perspective there.

Hopefully, this is something you can solve with these folks and it doesn’t become some kind of a deal breaker where they’re just put out with you all the time because you won’t want to go to church if they’re put out with you. That would take the fun out of the whole thing. I’d have to look for another place if all that kind of stuff started happening.