It’s not that giving to your local church isn’t important—it is, leaders told the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).
But 76 percent say it’s fine if you want to give part of your tithe to a different ministry.
“Many evangelical leaders do not believe there’s a biblical requirement to give exactly 10 percent to the local church,” NAE president Leith Anderson said. “Giving generously out of what God has done for us is the main message.”
Some leaders referenced the “storehouse” principle found in Malachi 3:10, which says to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” But they were split on what that meant; some said the local church is the storehouse, others that the storehouse isn’t a New Testament teaching.
“I have been taught—without reference to any biblical mandate—that any amount given outside of the local church should be done over and above the tithe,” author and speaker Deborah Pegues, who gives all of her tithe to her local church, told the NAE. “Nevertheless, I believe that everyone should be fully persuaded in his own mind as to the distribution of his tithe.”
Wheaton College president Philip Ryken agrees with that principle. “The church would have a much greater impact on America and in the world if in addition to tithing 10 percent to their local congregations, evangelical Christians gave an equivalent amount—or more—to other ministries,” he told the NAE.