Q. We unfortunately live in an area where there are mostly liberal and emerging churches which we would have difficulty attending for doctrinal reasons. For many years we attended a steadfast Bible-believing church quite far away from us. We can no longer afford the gas to attend that particular church and have been “orphans” for awhile. We have not yet found another church to attend near us and are certainly uncomfortable with the situation. But we do want to at least resume tithing.
How do we determine appropriate places to give our tithe if we temporarily don’t have a church home or if we end up having to keep worshiping at home? We also have dear elderly parents who are in as difficult a financial condition as we and we are trying to help them with everything we have. Is it alright to use any of our actual tithe money for them for their necessities of life like groceries and utilities? Or is that the wrong use of tithe money? Is tithe money only to be used through an official church organization to keep order and efficiency, or can individual Christians decide, within reason, where their own tithes would best be used?
A. I don’t believe there’s anything in the Bible requiring us to give our tithe solely to recognized church organizations. How we give is up to us. I would caution you against using tithe money to meet obligations that could be viewed as your personal responsibility. In 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul seems to place assistance to family and relatives in that category. If you have any question about the propriety of a gift it’s better to administer it through a recognized third party. Even if you can’t afford the gas to drive to the church of your choice, you can send them your tithe and designate a portion of it as you see fit.