Do you tithe to your local church? If not, will you please tithe to mine? Last month, the preschool that had used much of our education building for more than a decade moved out, taking about 25 percent of our income with them. The giving of the congregation will catch up eventually and replace that loss, but, because so many of our members are newly returned to church, that will take a while. In the meantime, what do we do?
The truth is churches around the country are asking very similar questions for different reasons. Oh, some congregations are endowed, and the faithfulness and generosity of previous generations are now sustaining them. That is a fairly small percentage, however. It isn’t just churches that are struggling. My activist friends in smaller nonprofits face incredible challenges, having to choose between spending their time raising money and trying to do the work that is so vital.
I wrote recently about the fact that all that is needed for evil to flourish is the silence of good women and men. Well, according to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling at least, money is speech, and the silence of progressive people is deafening. While we might resent, and vigorously disagree with, how the National Rifle Association spends its money, lobbying against common sense gun legislation and even education, our feelings don’t seem to motivate us to give as generously as their members do.
At the recent general synod for the United Church of Christ, I had a long conversation with a colleague about how fundamentalists and conservatives give more consistently and generously to their churches and causes in which they believe. We tried to determine why that is. Perhaps they agree with the conservatives on the Supreme Court who said that money is speech. Too often we progressives talk a lot in person and online about what we believe and what we support, but it seems we aren’t nearly as prone to “put our money where our mouth is.”
So, you say you love Jesus; you want a more peace-filled and just world; you want to make a difference. Does your giving say the same thing, or does it tell an uncomfortable truth about what you really value? Well, if you don’t have a church to tithe to, you are welcome to give to this ministry.
Rev. Michael Piazza