Tithing is not always a popular topic. The practice of giving the first 10 percent of one’s income to God and the local Christian community may not be something many people want to be reminded of — given the disciplined financial sacrifice that’s required.
For anyone raised in the church, the importance of tithing is far from unfamiliar. Yet when only 5 percent or so of churchgoing adults in the United States tithe right now, it might as well be foreign.
“What seemed like a continued sacrifice, in the midst of loans, bills, and life has turned into a life-giving discipline,” said one worshiper.
American churchgoers are tithing less and less. And for the young in church who already feel lost or left behind in the aftermath of a recession, good reasons to tithe seem hard to come by.
In 2011, the Barna Group reported that while there is a rising trend of giving to charities (a total of 13 percent of church attendees donate to charities of their choice), tithing has dropped down well below that. That’s not surprising, given that many see tithing as a petty church requirement, a legalistic expectation, or simply redundant.
But clearly it is a personal choice. Brad Hewitt, author of “The New Money Mindset,” put it this way: “Tithing is important because it reframes our financial worldview from a scarcity mentality of relying on money for our security, to an abundance mentality of relying on God. When we do this, we actually feel more financially secure.”
We know tithing is important. We know it’s biblical. Yet for many who are young, the question with tithing is where or when to start — and even why start.
The act of blessing the Lord with the “first portion” of our income is repeatedly addressed in the Bible as a key influence in our faith and our relationship with Christ (Proverbs 3:9-10), not to mention our financial health. The younger people start this practice, the sooner they start gaining wisdom in handling their finances and putting greater trust in the provision of the Lord.
“The habit of tithing is not something that gets easier as someone gets older,” said one husband and father.
If you’re a young adult in 2016, struggling to make $30,000 a year and caught up in a constant battle to acquire more material possessions, tithing presents painful constraints. Some people assume that when they have more, they’ll easily give away more. The opposite is often true.
Many young people do tithe — and confirm the struggles.
“The habit of tithing is not something that gets easier as someone gets older. Forming this habit while we’re young is helpful to future faith because the essential habit of giving will become ‘second nature,'” explained Rick Bloomquist, a 30-year-old husband and new father in Lakeland, Florida.
“Such a proficiency in giving, we think, is similar to what Jesus was talking about when He said that when we give, ‘we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing,'” said Bloomquist. “We won’t even have to think about giving at that point. Obedience, in that particular expression, would become easy.”
A young working mom from Cincinnati, Ohio, Hillary Demeo, said: “What seemed like a continued sacrifice, in the midst of loans, bills, and life, has become a ‘centering’ to what matters first. The sacrifice has turned into a life-giving discipline.”
Studies find that those who consistently tithe are more financially stable and remain more loyal in their faith — and 60 percent of tithers first began to engage in the practice when in their 20s or even younger.
Young tithers find clarity in how best to invest their income earlier — and most importantly, they gain a steady peace and trust in the Lord’s provision early in life, when they need it a great deal.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine,” says Proverbs (3:9-10).
Tithing isn’t just another budget plan; it is a step of faith and obedience for scores of people who aim to live according to biblical principles. For these faithful, it is something they cannot afford not to do.