Church and Money
By The Rev. Glen Holmquist
It was a small-group session for congregations in the district. This
one was called "Making Stewardship Alive and Vital in Your Congregation."
I was the teacher. I developed a presentation that centered on
leadership and tithing.
After 25 years of being in touch with the drama of corporate and
personal stewardship, it continues to be the "toughest teach" I have
encountered. It is a narrow band of stewardship - on two slim strands. One
strand is the church and the other is money.
Money and the church - now that should be a happy marriage without
complication. The church asks the people for some of their money and then
uses it wisely to teach and tell the good news of Jesus Christ! That
process ought to produce a happy scene of joy and helpful service. I am
convinced that it could and should be so. The solution is simple. The
application and implementation is the roadblock. I believe it to be a "faithblock."
Here and there I have witnessed evidence of breakthroughs and acceptance
of the solution. But they are few and far between.
The solution is for individuals to tithe from the top of their incomes
and for congregations to write their mission check first every week.
Pastors need to give strong leadership to promote both actions to the
flock they shepherd. Lay persons of dedicated commitment need to be
tithers. They must come to see the wisdom of doing their mission duty as a
key to congregational growth and strength.
I have long believed that when the issue of "ownership" and "owership"
gets settled properly, the churches and believers have a good chance to
Back to the meeting. As it was winding down, a well-meaning layman
arose to speak. "I have worked in stewardship in our church for seven
years. We feel the tithe is unrealistic for us. We work the time and
talent side of stewardship. We believe the money will follow when people
It was a statement I had heard hundreds of times before. I have never
agreed with it. I call it the path of least resistance. It does not build
Certainly we need to encourage the giving of time and talent, but when
service becomes a substitute for the tithe, then we are doing a disservice
to people who need victory in their lives. Begin to tithe and the
committed involvement will follow.
Pray for the courage to begin to tithe. Give it first - from the top of
your income. Keep praying for the power to persist in the adventure. The
Lord will bless you. His promises are irrevocable. You will be blessed to
be a blessing. Hang on to Malachi 3:10 -- "Bring the full tithe into the
storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the
test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven
for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing."
Helen Keller said this: "Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing."
Tithing is a daring adventure. And the Lord guarantees you will emerge
The Rev. Glen Holmquist
retired after serving
for 12 years as Assistant to the Bishop, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
Synod of the Lutheran Church in America, and 10 years on the regional stewardship staff of the LCA.
He wrote this for
Faith in Action.