Ask Alex

Do I have to tithe to a physical local church?


There is definitely a strong principle of tithing in God’s Word, and that idea of giving God the first and best of what you receive is directly tied to specific promises of blessing. That being said, God doesn’t need our money, but our hearts need to yield it to Him. You might find it beneficial to watch our video about tithing.

While giving to physical local churches is a healthy and biblical practice, you may be surprised to know that the Bible doesn’t actually teach directly that New Testament believers should tithe to their local churches. Early believers did give willingly and sacrificially to their local church gatherings as seen in both the first church in Jerusalem in Acts and in Gentile churches in Paul’s letters, but we only see their example, not direct commands with rules about where our money should go. The early church in Jerusalem gave to everyone who had need (cf. Acts 2:45, 4:35), and Paul called upon churches to give to other far away churches when those churches were in dire straights, such as in days of famine that struck in the first century. Paul also spoke to church members about providing for needy widows and to those who labor in preaching and teaching among them (1 Timothy 5:16-18). With that in mind, you might consider it biblically honorable to give to whomever you receive preaching and teaching from regularly. You might also consider supporting widow ministry.

All of these types of giving, however, are definitely expressed best in the context of the local church, and if you are not part of one, it would be honorable to the Lord if you found one, as we all need to be able to gather physically with other believers to express life as the Body of Christ, which is what we are. Parts of the body can’t live by themselves. We recommend downloading our free resource about finding the right church.

Alex McFarland

Alex has preached in over 2,200 churches throughout North America and numerous more internationally. He also speaks at Christian events, conferences, debates, and other venues to teach biblical truths and preach the gospel.

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