Should One Ministry Tithe to Another Ministry?
The basic principle of New Testament giving is presented by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9. These chapters deal with the overall subject of the “grace” God has given us in giving our finances to the Lord. Paul calls it a “grace” (used 5 times in this passage) because God provides us with “bread (our needs) for eating”, and the “seed (our giving) for sowing”. Then, God multiplies what we “sow” so that we can increase.
2 Corinthians 9:10–11 - Now He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for eating, may He supply and multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your righteousness
11 [and] you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which works out thanksgiving to God through us.
Notice, it is the seed which is sown that is multiplied. This “seed” produces for God’s Kingdom. Then, as we are increased, we are able to give to every good work.
This is the essence of New Testament giving: God gives to us—we give to the work of the Lord (Churches, ministries, and the poor, in His Name)—God causes our gift to multiply back to us—we are increased—we give more. This is further described in 2 Cor. 9:10-15. That’s Grace!
The Grace of Giving
What I want to establish, first of all, is the “grace of giving” taught in the New Testament. We are living in the “dispensation of Grace” the “Church Age”. The work of the “Cross of Jesus Christ” has brought to mankind a “New Covenant”. This covenant is sealed with the blood of God’s Son, and has eliminated man from approaching God on the basis of his own works—we must approach through the Blood of Jesus Christ—by faith. This is the message of the New Testament. It is most clearly presented in Romans 3 through 8, and in Galatians 3 through 5. It is a message of God’s grace obtained through faith.
Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the Law [the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him, the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him] as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him. (Amplified)
All we obtain from God is a result of God’s grace made available to us by our Faith in Him. The “Law” and all its ordinances, rules, regulations (both written and oral), has been removed by the activity of Christ’s death on the Cross. That’s Good News! Why? We couldn’t perform to His standards. When man failed, and he always did, he had to offer a sacrifice—over, and over, and over. But, Jesus Christ is that “perfect sacrifice” which, once offered, fulfilled all of God’s righteous demands, and removed the “Law” as a barrier to our righteousness.
On that basis, let’s look at the issue that your question raises. The “Law” contained numerous rules and regulations in regard to giving of tithes, offerings, and gifts. There are literally hundreds of individual regulations concerning this subject: when, where, how, how much, the distinctions between each, the blessing of obedience, but, more numerous, the curses for disobedience, etc.
That’s the LAW. Many Christians, and many preachers, still choose from these Old Testament laws to teach on giving. Tithing, of course, is one example. To choose passages from within the Law to teach the methods, blessings, and curses of tithing is to teach “the Law” in the Dispensation of Grace. That does not mean we should not “tithe”, for the “principle of the tithe” existed before the Law. But, we cannot pick and choose from the elements of the Law which ones we will apply and which we will ignore. Some of those “laws and statutes” regulated the where, and how the Priests were to give, and to whom they “paid” their tithes.
Again, Paul says, “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do all the Law, you who are justified by Law are deprived of all effect from Christ; you fell from grace. (Gal 5:3-4)”.
His point here is that if you choose any part of the Law to establish as a regulation determining your standing, blessing, or righteousness, you have made Christ’s death on the cross a meaningless thing. The purpose of the Law was to frustrate man in his effort to live a self-righteous life before God—it was a schoolmaster leading us to Jesus Christ so that we might be made righteous by faith (Gal. 5:23–25).
To try to apply the laws / regulations governing tithing and giving in the Law, we are setting aside the work of Grace. Your question has direct application to the Old Testament Law. The “tithe” under the Law became a type of “religious tax”.
Under Abraham, it was a free-will gift of gratitude for the Lord’s goodness and blessing. There were no rules, regulations or curses—only blessing for those who participated.
In Genesis 14: 17–24, Abraham gave because he realized how good God was in blessing him (God blessed him first). Isaac gave because he saw the benefit of giving to the God who had blessed him. Jacob pledged to give his tithe to God when he had had been prospered.
Free-will; Gratitude; Response to God’s Blessings—these are the principles that establish the Abrahamic pattern of giving the tithe.
This was greatly changed by the Law. It became an intricate, even confusing, system by which Israel was “required” to give God 10% of all their increase. Israel didn’t “give” tithes they “paid” them. It was a debt—not a gift. It was the system that God established to support the Aaronic Priesthood, the Tabernacle / Temple, and the Tribe of the Levites. In addition to the “tithes” were the “firstfruits”, the “firstborn”, sacrifices, offering, special gifts, and the portion of your possession left to the poor. This is to say nothing of all the other commandments and ordinances—of which there were 613, not just 10. All of these were required in order to receive blessing. If you did some, but not all, you would get all of the curses. (See Deuteronomy 28:1 and 15)
Giving to The Lord; To the Poor; Supporting the Ministry
Trying to decipher how those “laws” are to be “re-applied” in the organization called, “The Body of Christ” is futile, to say the least. Our system within the “Church” is vastly different than the Levitical System established under the Law. That is the reason that the Apostle Paul and the other NT writers avoided re-establishing the system of the Law as the principle of New Testament giving and support for the ministry. Instead, they encouraged freewill–voluntary–systematic giving to the Church. Their “giving” was used:
1. To help the poor;
2 Cor. 9:1–15 (read this from a modern translation: NASB; NIV; or even NKJV) Paul is making reference to the offering he was collecting to be taken to the congregation in Jerusalem. This same offering for Jerusalem is mentioned also in Romans 15:26 and 1 Cor. 16:1. This pattern of “collecting offerings for the poor” has always been a responsibility of those blessed with prosperity. Abraham was “blessed” so he could be a “blessing”. Under the Law, the people were instructed to give to the poor, and even a portion of their “tithe” was designated to be given to the needy, the fatherless, widows, and strangers in the Land (Deut. 14:28–29). As these 3 Letters (Romans, and 1 & 2 Corinthians) were written to congregations and not just individuals, it seems that this was an “Apostolic sanctioned” use of the offerings given to the Local Churches.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, so that he may have something to give to him who needs.
2 To further the growth of the Kingdom through “missionary works”
Phil 4:15–19Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as regards giving and receiving, except you alone.
16 For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my necessity.
17 I do not say this because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
18 But I have all and abound. I have been filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things which you sent, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well-pleasing to God.
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Paul is making reference to the abundant support he received from the Church in Philippi during the time he was working with Silas and Timothy to establish the Church in Thessalonica (see also 2Cor 11:8–9). It seems evident from Paul’s example that this was a common custom for the Church. As the Apostles and other ministers went out to evangelize and confirm other churches, they were supported by the congregations that were well established. This allowed them “preach the Gospel free of charge” (1 Cor 9:18) in the mission field. The pattern has been accepted throughout the Church Age.
3. To support the needs of the local Church and ministers;
1 Cor 9:11If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
12. If others share this authority over you, don't we even more? However, we have not used this authority; instead, we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ.
13. Do you not know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the offerings of the altar?
14. In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel.
Paul establishes a principle of support for the ministers based upon sensible practice and the Old Testament pattern of the Temple. Without reinstating the Law, he argues from the basis of the principle. It wasn’t because “God demanded it in the Law”, but because it was the reason behind what God demanded—those who are working “for” you should be supported by you. Paul also declares that he would not “demand” this from the people—it should be something they realize as their own responsibility.
Galatians 6:6 Let him who receives instruction in the Word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support].
Even in this, the earliest of his Letters, Paul calls for the support of the “teachers” who were giving instruction to the congregation. Yet, notice the word, “let”. This indicates that the giving is to be the “voluntary obligation” of the one receiving instruction. It should be done—it is the right thing—but it is not demanded.
1 Timothy 5:17Let the elders who perform the duties of their office well be considered doubly worthy of honor [and of adequate financial support], especially those who labor faithfully in preaching and teaching.
18. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,” and again, “The laborer is worthy of his hire”.
Here again, Paul speaks to the need for the believers to support the official ministers of the congregation. Those who give their time to teaching the flock, and leading the Church are to be treated as worthy of the ‘wages” they are given. Yet, Paul once more puts this in a “voluntary” context, and not as an outright demand.
The tithe of the Priest was part of the Law. God gave special instructions as to who was to give tithes to whom. But, to try to read into that where a minister is to “pay” his tithes is to apply the Law. The basic answer is: they should “give” tithes like all the other members of the congregation—to the Church. Just because some of that offering comes back to them as salary/compensation does not change the fact. Churches and ministers in similar fashion should give freely and generously to other ministries which are doing the work of ministering to the lost, the needy, the oppressed, and building the Kingdom of God. The New Testament pattern of giving was simple: to the ministers; to the Churches; to the poor. There is no New Testament distinction between giving “tithes” and giving offerings. That, again, is Old Testament Law.
Overall, the message to the Church is: Give! Give simply; gratefully; compassionately; liberally; freely. All of this is done with the idea of blessing God’s people: Churches, ministers, the poor. Whether that giving is from and believer, a minister, a ministry, or a local Church, it makes no difference.
And, it is given with the knowledge that your giving is producing for you. It is producing a “harvest of righteousness” for the Kingdom as it allows His work to be accomplished. It is producing further abundance for you, so that you may have to give again—and even more. It is producing an eternal reward for you as you build His Kingdom and influence on earth.
This is how God’s people are to give. And, it is how His Pastors, Ministers, and Teachers are to give. Paul is very clear that the obligation of the “hearer” is to bless his teacher. But, to whom does the Teacher give? He gives to his teacher, to the work of the Gospel, to other ministries, to the poor in our midst. There is no Law! Give freely, simply, liberally.
With all of this in mind, you have an abundance of scripture to “stand on” in giving the tithes of a minister, a ministry, or a Church. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find any regulations regarding “how” a minister is to give. What we find are principles applied to all New Testament believers—and the ministers, the ministries, and the Churches fit into the same mold