This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
What is the position of the Assemblies of God on tithing?
The Assemblies of God has always been a proponent of tithing (or giving one-tenth of one’s personal income to support the work of God). We believe tithing is a recognition that everything we have comes from God. The practice checks our greed, promotes personal discipline and thrift, testifies to our faith, promotes God’s work in the world, and alleviates human need. While we do not believe tithing to be a condition for salvation, we do believe it is a very important biblical model, one which should set the minimal standard for Christian giving for people in all income ranges.
Though some people believe tithing was an Old Testament practice not intended for New Testament Christians, the Assemblies of God believes and teaches that tithing is still God’s design for supporting the ministry and reaching the world with the gospel. Our bylaws state, "We recognize the duty of tithing and urge all our people to pay tithes to God" (Article IX, Section 7a.) It is true there is no direct commandment in the New Testament saying, "You must tithe to God one-tenth of your income"; but there is also no statement declaring the Old Testament plan as no longer valid.
Some oppose tithing today quoting Matthew 23:23 as proof text. In doing so they actually twist Jesus’ words to teach just the opposite of what Jesus clearly said. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices... But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness." Stopping at that point in the verse might allow some misinterpretation. But Jesus continued, "You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." From here we see that Jesus regarded the Old Testament practice of tithing as continuing into the new covenant under which we now live.
The practice of tithing predates the giving of the Old Testament law. Abraham tithed in response to God’s blessing and faithfulness (Genesis 14:18-20) and was no doubt blessed because of his faithful tithing. Under the law, proceeds from the tithes were directed primarily for the support of the Levites and priests who provided religious leadership (Numbers 18:21-29) and for the relief of the needy (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Today’s church still relies on the support of tithers.
Christians can miss out on God’s abundant blessing by looking on the tithe as the entire requirement for giving. The tithe is only one aspect of support for the church and its ministry of spreading the gospel. The Bible also mentions voluntary offerings given by God’s people over and above the required tithe. Of course, the attitude with which both tithes and offerings are given is very important. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). The giving of either tithes or offerings with a grudging spirit loses much of the blessing that can come as we faithfully give out of love rather than obligation.
The Assemblies of God is also concerned about people who withhold tithes when they do not like decisions and directions espoused by spiritual leaders. Christians should fellowship with a local body of believers and bring their whole tithes into that storehouse (Malachi 3:10). Though some of the Israelites may not have liked decisions made by Moses and his successors, they were given no alternatives. While we may designate some of our offerings (beyond the tithes) to ministries outside the local church, the tithes rightfully belong in the church with which the Christian identifies. And if one is not identifying with a local body of believers, he or she disregards God’s instruction that we not forsake assembling together with believers (Hebrews 10:25).
Some Christians do not tithe, claiming they cannot afford to give up 10 percent of their income. Simple arithmetic may suggest that 90 percent will not go as far as 100 percent in satisfying essential family needs. But God has built a multiplication factor into our giving of tithes and offerings. Malachi recorded God’s words, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse... Test me in this... and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (Malachi 3:10). Though we do not give to God in order to get more back, as some suggest we should, God’s promises are still true–if our giving is according to His instruction.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in the General Council Bylaws, Article IX, Section 7a.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.