Recently, I attended a workshop on how to be/create Covenant Discipleship groups.
We broke up into groups, and my group consisted of all the provisional clergy.
For those that are not familiar, Covenant Discipleship groups are small groups that watch over one another in love. We come up with a ‘contract’ and meet weekly to discuss how we are doing in our covenants to better ourselves for the kingdom of God. The four categories are Acts of Compassion, Acts of Justice, Acts of Worship and Acts of Devotion and we come up, as a group, things we can do and hold each other accountable within those four categories.
For acts of Worship, I suggested that we, as clergy, really should practice the discipline of tithing as part of worship, to remind us that everything we have of is God and that it reminds us God is our priority in life.
Everyone seemed to be down with that.
Unfortunately, I had to leave later in the evening to fulfill church obligations. The group met again the next day, and my trusted friend told me the conversation that took place. And I thank God that I was not part of this conversation because I would not have been able to keep quiet nor polite.
Some of the provisional members started to complain that tithing would be too difficult for them. They can’t tithe because of various reasons: no money, too many bills, children’s education…
And we wonder why so many of our church members do not give as generously as they can.
I understand their concerns and they are valid. But we cannot forget that we have everything because of God, and that everything we have is God’s.
Pastors, to encourage generosity as a foundation of faith and thanksgiving, not of requirement and guilt, we as pastors need to lead by example. If you are afraid to tithe, who in your congregation will?
This frustrates me beyond what I can put into words.
Since this was a group consisting of provisional members, is this what we have to look forward to for the future of our conference?
Perhaps this explains why so many of our churches have to make more and more budget cuts. How are we to teach our congregation the importance of generosity and the faithfulness of tithing when we, ourselves are reluctant to do the same?