I wrote an article a while ago called Tithing in the New Testament and in light of the post I put up yesterday about tithing while in debt, I just had to share something I found. I am not sure how I haven’t heard of this until now, but apparently, “LifeChurch.tv, a multi-site, media-intensive church out of Oklahoma City, encourages testing God. They not only advocate such testing, they back it up with an unorthodox guarantee.” They have been running this program for 11 years!
Test me now in this…
The article I found was called The Tithing Challenge over at ChristianityToday.com. In it you find that this unconventional church puts their money where their mouth is – or more appropriately – God’s mouth 😉 . They challenge the congregation to tithe for three months and if at the end of the 3 months the participants are not convinced of God’s faithfulness, they can get a full refund of every dollar they have given, no questions asked.
It is, of course, based off of the Malachi 3:10 verse that (as far as anyone has found) is the only Biblical encouragement to “test God.”
Malachi 3:10-12 (NIV)
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “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. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
While I have seen God’s faithfulness as I have tithed, I would figure that some people would look at God’s provision as luck or coincidence. To my surprise the amount of people who requested a refund was surprisingly low… “From the recent big push, five participants out of the 550 who signed up requested their tithe be returned.”
Five people out of 550. That is less than 1% of people who took the challenge!
I honestly think the tithing challenge idea is a pretty good one. Before I started tithing, the main reason that I didn’t was because I didn’t think I could give up 10% of my income and still meet all my needs. If I would have been offered something like this I probably would have jumped on it.
But as I think about it, the whole challenge is kind of a faith-transfer. The pastor is so convinced that what Malachi says is true that he is stepping out in faith for his congregation. While I admire him for doing it, I am not sure if that is ultimately a good thing for the congregation, since it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). But, on the other hand, if it gets people to see that God is faithful, that is good isn’t it?
I can see both sides of this one – what do you think?