This week’s bad church sign of the week is a picture from St. Andrew’s which states: “Net income tithing only gets you net abundant blessings.”  I thought I would bring this sign up this week due to all the financial crises going on in America right now.

The concept which is a common question among some people I have talked to is: do you tithe from your gross income (before taxes) or from your net income (after taxes)?

First off, that is a bad question.  Because it already shows someone who is trying to get away with giving God the bare minimum.  What someone is asking is “how little can I give and still get away with it without making God angry?”  That is not a healthy question.  Since God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), and Jesus said it was more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), we shouldn’t try to give as little as possible to get by, but we should see how much we can possibly give to God’s Kingdom.

I don’t disagree with the message of the sign.  I just agree with it being on a sign.  Signs are made for those outside the church, not those inside.  People inside the church can’t read the sign because they are inside the church.  But people driving by, if they actually understand what tithing is, what does this possibly say about this church?

  • They are angry at members for not giving enough
  • They are in financial trouble
  • They have a conditional theology (that’s not totally incorrect, but its dangerous – leads to no grace…)
  • Before you come to our church, you need to know we only accept people who can give at this level

It could mean a whole bunch of things – but its dangerous because churches can confirm the suspicions of a community who thinks its members judge those outside the church.  Be careful not only what you say but how you say it.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.