Last Sunday (17-02-08), Pastor Prince preached his first ever Sunday service message on Tithing. That is, this was the first time in all his years at New Creation that he preached a whole sermon on Tithing in a Sunday service. He told the church this. While I haven’t listened in on every Sunday service Pastor Prince has preached in to verify the truth of what he said, I have no problems believing him. I’ve been to enough services at New Creation to know that money has never been much of a focus there. Sure, there’s talk about God prospering His people materially (and I’ll touch on this another time) and New Creation would identify itself as a Word of Faith church, but it’s not a church where the focus is on money. The preaching and services are extremely different from what one sees on many of America’s tele-evangelistic programs. If they were just a bit similar, I wouldn’t be in New Creation.
Many charismatic churches always have a mini-sermon on tithing and giving before the offering bag is passed around. By a mini-sermon, I mean that someone talks about what the Bible says about giving for about 5 minutes or so in order to motivate the congregation to give more. What is normally said is that God will tremendously bless those who give to Him and you can’t out-give God and all that stuff. I believe that the Bible says that. However, I also believe that a lot of people are sick of hearing that over and over again. It can be done – and is often done – in a way where people think that all the church is after is their money. It’s also often done in a way that makes us feel guilty for not giving more. Furthermore, constantly emphasizing that God will bless us 100 fold or that He will bless us tremendously as we give to Him sacrificially tends to promote greed and self-centeredness. The result is that while people may give sacrificially in such churches, a large part of the motivation for giving is wrong. They give to be blessed in return and that’s become main reason.
One thing I love about New Creation is that they don’t have a mini-sermon before the offering bag goes around. They hardly say much before the offering. And this is in keeping with their philosophy that they don’t want to pressure Christians into doing what they may not want to do. They don’t want to make Christians feel guilty or condemned for not giving more. Sit through any service and you’ll realize how much of a non-event offering time is. They don’t believe in manipulating people and I’ve never felt manipulated into giving when I’ve been there. In fact, once I heard one of the pastors who MC-ed during the offering say something like:
While there’s an element of truth that God will bless us back when we give, let our motivation to give be because of how much God has given us, and not because we want to be blessed!
Let me just state that I totally believe that God desires to bless us materially. And I believe that God blesses us as we give to Him. All this is true, eventhough it can be and has been taken to the extreme by many churches that preach about prosperity. I do believe that if your motivation to give is to be blessed in return, that’s not sinful as there’s a biblical truth to that. But I also believe that this is not the whole truth. I think most of the time we should be giving to God and other people out of love, not out of the desire to be blessed by God.
Something that Pastor Prince said on Sunday that really impressed me was:
I don’t want 100% tithers. I want people to tithe from revelation.
As you can see, he wants the members to have the right motivation, to have a revelation of why we tithe. It’s no use if everyone tithes in the Church but do it from the wrong motive and without understanding why they do so.
Another thing Pastor Prince said was:
If you have to ask whether you should tithe from your gross or net salary, then don’t tithe.
The point here is that if Christians are so picky about how much to give God, then we may as well not give anything because we give it with the wrong motivation. The church wants their members to give cheerfully, to give out of gratitude for all God has done for them. Not to give because of guilt.
The way New Creation doesn’t make a big issue about giving is all the more remarkable when you realize that they still have to raise about S$100 million for their new building. I mean, most Churches have huge fundraising events and plead with their members to give sacrificially when they’re raising money for their new building. But if you go to New Creation, you don’t face that at all. To me, that’s pretty amazing. For that to happen, the leaders must have real faith in God to provide. And I believe they know that the church’s calling is to preach the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that they can leave it up to the people to cheerfully and willingly give to God (without external compulsion from the church) as the church focuses on how much God has given to them in Christ.