Is the SDA tithe problem really a "spiritual" problem as Mr. Maxson suggests when he reports only 30% of the membership tithe? Or is it because church members are learning that they are being scammed out of their money by a non biblical tithe doctrine? Or is it because church members are fed up with how the church misuses the tithe in law-suits and corruption of their church leaders? GC Leaders spent and estimated 5-7 million dollars to keep SDA Treasure David Dennis' case from being heard in court because he blew the whistle on misuse of church money. GC President Jan Paulsen still will not have an independent audit of the Denomination's books, so that the members can see if David was in the right or if he was wrong. The General Conference leaders can use the church member's money any way they choose and they do not have to answer to the church membership, or the IRS. When will the members stop fueling corruption with their money?
plain straight testimony must live in the church, or the curse of
God will rest upon His people as surely as it did upon ancient
had deceived themselves by misinterpreting the words of the Lord through his
prophets, of his eternal favor to his people
'Thus saith the
Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon
and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves
thereof roar the Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from
before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being
a nation before me forever. Thus saith the Lord: If heaven above can be
measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also
cast off all the seed of
These words the Jews applied to themselves. And because God had shown them so great favor and mercy, they flattered themselves that, notwithstanding their sins and iniquities, he would still retain them as his favored people, and shower especial blessings upon them. They misapplied the words of Jeremiah and depended for their salvation upon being called the [chosen] children of Abraham. If they had indeed been worthy o the name of Abraham's children, they would have followed the righteous example of their father Abraham, and would have done the works of Abraham. This has been the danger of the people of God in all ages and especially is this the danger of those living near the close of time. . . .
God would in no wise excuse sin in a people who had been enlightened, even if he had, in their days of faithfulness and purity, loved them, and given them especial promises. These promises and blessings were always upon condition of obedience upon their part. The Lord pronounced, by the mouth of Moses, blessings upon the obedient, and curses upon the disobedient." E. G. White, Review and Herald, Vol. 1, 123.
Less Tithe a "Deeply Spiritual
Problem" Say Church Leaders
Since the 1970s, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has seen its tithe, or members donating 10 percent of their earnings to the church, drop 75 percent, per capita, adjusted for inflation, says Benjamin C. Maxson, stewardship director for the Seventh-day Adventist world church.
Adventist Christians may not be alone in this seeming trend. Barna Research Group, Ltd., an independent Christian research firm in southern California, says the number of American households who give at least 10 percent of their income to their church has dropped by 62 percent in the past year--from 8 percent in 2001 to just 3 percent of adults during 2002.
About 30 percent of
Tithing is related to spirituality, says Maxson, who is not worried so much about a reduction in tithe as of the spirituality of Adventists around the globe. "My concern is for the spirituality of the church. Finances are a byproduct. They will take care of themselves when the spiritual condition is correct," he says.
"All our studies show that a
majority don't have an assurance of salvation and do not have a walk with
God--no daily devotions," he says, citing the Value Genesis study
conducted by the Institute of Church Ministry at
In the 1970s, 70 percent to 80 percent of members attended church regularly and 65 percent tithed. Now 45 percent to 50 percent of members regularly attend church and 30 percent tithe, according to Maxson.
Roy Ryan, an associate treasurer for the
Adventist world church, points out the spiritually dedicated Adventists in
Annually, tithe brings the
He points out that tithe is measured differently across denominations. Some say 10 percent is something to strive for. "We say it's a place to start," he says.
The cure is a "serious discipling program," he says. Another factor he cites is secularization of church culture.
Erika F. Puni,
the church's stewardship director for the South Pacific region, agrees. "I
would concur with Maxson that the real issue behind
the decline in tithe receipt is spirituality or the lack thereof," says Puni, who also serves as personal ministries and
Tithe receipted by the church has been
declining for at least the last 25 years when compared to income, according to Puni, citing research of the church in the North New South
Puni quotes research saying, "'This steady decline can be explained if the tithing behavior of the various age cohorts remained relatively stable. As each of the younger cohorts aged, they made up a larger percentage of wage earners. That they tithed at a lower rate means that over time the rate of total members who tithe decreases.
"'This downward trend appears likely to continue for at least the next 15 years, after which time tithe will still decline relative to attendees' incomes, but at a much lower rate.'"
"It should be noted," says Puni, "that in the last 10 years--particularly in the late 1990s--within this region, political unrest and other related events in Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Fiji had a real impact on our church members' ability to return God's tithe."
A small increase in tithing in Europe may
be due to the increase in currency values--specifically the
Olson says each church region ought to have a full-time stewardship director. "It's a matter of priorities," he says, implying that nowadays technical things tend to take up the finances--IT and Sun Accounts. "There's always money, but it's a matter of where you want it." Olson also serves as the region's treasurer and trust officer.
He encourages pastors to visit members in their homes, a practice he feels he had the most success with himself, and discuss three things: their spiritual walk, educating their children or grandchildren in Adventist schools, and their giving habits and returning the "Lord's tithe."
Tithe figures in Southern Africa are up
slightly, according to Nceku Moses Msimanga, stewardship director for the church's Southern
Africa-Indian Ocean region, based in
"On spirituality, we promote a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus Christ ... We start with the heart." Msimanga says that if the church aims only at pockets, it may amount to robbery.
"Self-support says, I can do it. It promotes self-esteem and removes a dependence syndrome. It trains one to be self-reliant and see the potential in oneself. More and more people have moved from the receiving end to the giving zone," says Msimanga. "There is still room for growth but the arrows are pointing upward."
He says countries in the region are going through a tough economic phase. "Our currencies are softening each day and the cost of living is rising higher and higher."
However, Ryan says "when there's a
link spiritually with the Lord, there are links in other ways too."
Our philosophy of
news comes from Philippians 4:8:
"Whatever is true, whatever is respectable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there be any virtue or of be any praise, think on these things."