Well, I have finally put more thought into what modern “offerings” should look like.
The main passages about giving in the New Testament surround the fact that the Corinthians and the Macedonians were giving an offering to help the Christians in Jerusalem. It is regarding this that Paul writes the longest sections about offerings in the New Testament. (See 1 Cor. 9:1-18, 16:1-4, 2 Cor. 8:1-9:15)
There are a LOT of interesting things in these passages of Scripture and I encourage you to give these sections a read. For example, Paul uses the Macedonian’s generosity as a spur to urge the Corinthians to give more! (See 2 Cor. 8:7-9)
Ultimately, if I were to boil down what I believe is clear from the New Testament it is this:
- Tithing, which is the Ancient Israelite Tax Code, does not apply to the NC believer.
- NC Ministers should be paid well; Paul was the exception, as he chose not to be paid.
- Apostles can give firm directions about setting aside a portion of your income for ministry purposes.
This third point is the one that probably seems the oddest. But take a look at what Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 16:
“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” – 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
I am against the idea of trying to apply Bible verses about the Ancient Israelite Tax Code to the New Covenant Believer. Yet if a five-fold leader were to direct his flock to set aside a certain portion of their weekly income to give once a week for kingdom ministry purposes, I would find this precedent in the Apostle Paul’s example to us. I would call this “Receiving an offering,” it’s kinda like what happens in churches every Sunday, minus the verses being taken out of context.
Ministers are to be paid in normal circumstances. The Apostle Paul being a tentmaker was actually an exception.
“Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.” – Galatians 6:6
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” – 1 Timothy 5:17-18
“Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 9:7-14
To summarize Paul’s statement: The government pays the soldier, the land feeds the vineyard keeper, the sheep feed the shepherd, the farm feeds the ox, the temple and altar feeds the temple workers. So also the kingdom worker should be fed by those they minister too.
I urge you to examine your finances with the Spirit and to set aside a portion of your income to give weekly to Kingdom ministry. Start with the local five-fold minister that you receive from weekly. Then expand from there. It is good and healthy to do so.
“But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” – 2 Corinthians 8:7