Although it depends on your church and how they breakdown their budget, generally speaking yes, a portion of your tithe does go to the poor… a very small portion.
Because it would be good to establish just how much money we could be giving to the poor through our regular 10% pre-tax giving, let’s start by taking a couple minutes to break down a few stats.
If your income is over $25,000 per year, then you are wealthier than approximately 90% of the world’s population!* I suppose this is not so surprising if you know that of the seven billion people on earth today, more than a third of them live on less than $2 per day.
Further, the total income of American churchgoers is about $6.5 trillion. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work those numbers; a whole lot of poor could be lifted out of poverty if 10% of that $6.5 trillion was being tithed. Sadly, it’s said that only about 5% of American households tithe, and of those, the average giving is just 2.3% of their income; not 10% as instructed in Numbers 18:21-28 and Deuteronomy 26:12-13.
What if only 2.3% from those 5% of tithing American households actually gets to the poor? Again, this is going to vary church to church, but on average, we can safely say that 2% of the 2.3% being tithed is actually going to overseas missions. Another way to look at these numbers is like this – about five ten-thousands of our income is going to the poor, a mere 6 pennies per person, per day!*
Convicting, right, and so disappointing. Personally, I don’t think God allowed for us to be wealthier than 90% of the rest of the world so that we can buy bigger houses, newer cars, take more exotic vacations or be dressed in the latest fashions. My gut says that His intentions were more so along the lines of what we read about in Acts 2:44-45 where “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Or, more pointedly, what is stated in 1 John 3:17, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
What IF we all gave 10% of our incomes instead of 5% of us giving 2.3%? What would happen is there would be an extra $500 billion to spend in funding the work of the Church worldwide!
Now that I’ve opened this sack of sad stats and dropped it onto your lap, what can you do about it? Well, that’s a good question that could be answered a couple of different ways.
- You could start by examining your own tithing patterns. Are you already giving 10% of your income? If not, start! If you are, could you consider giving more?
- You could share this information with others. Informed people make informed decisions. Without coming across as being “holier than thou”, share information like what you learned in this blog to influence others to consider the importance of their tithe.
- In addition to making your regular tithe to your local church, consider giving an extra portion to a trustworthy charity such as Bright Hope, who will make sure your donation goes directly to those who need it the most.
- Pray. Pray that the Lord will stir the hearts of His people to hold what He’s entrusted to them with an open hand. Pray for a reversal of these sad stats – that the nation with the most could become the nation who gives the most!