The Blessing of Returning Tithe

Have you ever wanted tell a friend something, but when you were talking to them, forgot what you were going to say?  Or you get up from your chair, start walking down the hall and then wonder what you intended to do? If you are like most of us, sometimes your memory slips when it comes to the simple day-to-day things in life.  However, what about when it comes to more important things, such as your spiritual practices or church commitments? 

In 2012-13, Robert K. McIver, PhD of Avondale College of Higher Education in Australia, conducted a study of tithing in four continents: in the Northern California Conference (NCC) in the United States, in the South England Conference (SEC) in the United Kingdom, in the São Paulo Conference (SPC) in Brazil, and Central Kenya Conference; this built on a similar study conducted in 2006 in the Western Australia Conference (WAC) in Australia.

The study included a survey of church members, who were asked about their views regarding tithing, including whether they felt the Bible was clear about the requirement to return 10% of income back to the Lord.  More than four out of five respondents (84.5%) of respondents indicated that they felt the Bible is clear on this. Church members in this study overwhelmingly affirmed their commitment to returning a faithful tithe.

The same study revealed that by far the majority of church members in every country surveyed reported returning a 10% tithe on their incomes.

For those church members who reported not tithing regularly, in many cases, the reason was a simple case of forgetting to return tithe.  The next level of analysis showed that age is related to forgetting – but not in the “I’m getting older and am forgetting” sense.  In fact, this “forgetting” trend seems to decrease with age:

  • 46% of respondents ages 20-39 said that they sometimes forgot to tithe;
  • 32% of respondents ages 40-59 said that they sometimes forgot to tithe;
  • 23% of respondents ages 60 and older said that they sometimes forgot to tithe.

Other respondents indicated that they neglected to return tithe because they were not currently in the habit of returning.  One factor that may influence the lack of habitual returing is that in some parts of the world, church members are moving to a cashless economy in which credit and debit cards are used for most, if not all, financial transactions.  This is especially true of younger church members (specifically those in the 20-29, 30-39, and 40-49 age groups).

What does this tell us about tithing trends overall?  While it seems that most Adventists – regardless of age – feel favorably about the practice of returning tithe, younger members tend to be less faithful in consistent returning.  For those who begin to tithe at a young age, the more consistently they will continue to return throughout their life!

Now take some time to consider your own tithe returning.  Do you consistently contribute 10% of your income to the Lord?  If not, what is standing in your way?  If you currently view tithing as an obligation or as a way to receive more blessings from God, you may not view tithing as a high priority.  However, if you were to understand tithing as a way of expressing gratitude to God, this might be the exact thing needed to boost your memory when it comes to giving back.

To learn more, check out the following book, available through Amazon.com:

Tithing Practices Among Seventh-day Adventists: A Study of Tithe Demographics and Motives in Australia, Brazil, England, Kenya and the United States (Cooranbong, NSW; Silver Spring MD: Avondale Academic Press/General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, 2016)