The first sales tactic is usually twisting Old Testament scripture (Malachi, Melchizidek, and the doctrine of first fruits and Jericho).
Pastors will then resort to misinterpreting and/or ignoring selected New Testament scriptures regarding stewardship.
Of course some will berate and scare the congregation - the best at this are Ed Young, Jr. and Steve Gaines.
But sometimes pastors will make emotional, seemingly "common sense" appeals to sell their tithing tonic to the peeps - and that is the topic of this post.
Here is how the more basic, common-sense argument usually unfolds - many of the readers here have probably heard something like this recently at YOUR church by your mega church pastor:
- pastors will equate "walking with Jesus" to tithing - that if you're going to walk with Jesus, you have to give 10% of your income to your church, undesignated, off the top, before you pay anyone else. No scripture, but hey, who doesn't want to "walk with Jesus"?
- your mega church pastor will try to tie your devotion to Jesus to devotion to church and tithing, saying something like:
"If you can trust Jesus with your eternal soul, surely you can trust him with your finances."
- your mega church pastor will tell you that HE tithes, that his parents tithed, his dog tithes, and thus you should tithe too. That is great that he gives 10% or more to the church, but that doesn't mean it is a good idea for the others in the congregation.
- pastors will tell you that as a Christian, tithing is one of the greatest disciplines that you can develop in your life and will help you spend the other 90% wisely. What a nutty idea: let me donate more money than I can afford, to put myself under further financial duress to force me to better manage what is left. My new dieting strategy: let me binge tonight, so tomorrow I'll be more motivated than ever to eat less and lose weight.
- pastors will even go so far as to tell you that if you are struggling in your finances, one of the best things you can do to help your situation is learn to trust God and start tithing, that by tithing you demonstrate your faith in Jesus and he will then be able to help you more. They will tell you that the reason you ARE struggling financially is you are not tithing yet! Again, pure fiction, but it helps to increase revenue at the church.
This kind of rhetoric is why it is dangerous to give a man a microphone for 45 minutes - any man: a politician, a lawyer in a courtroom, or a pastor in a pulpit. Dangerous thing for men to have access to your mind to spin their yarns and make their arguments with no rebuttal time or at least a question and answer time. Imagine if the Romney/Obama debates consisted of all the networks giving 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to each candidate.
It even gets worse when your millionaire mega church pastor lectures his congregation on their selfishness in owning too much stuff and being too focused on the material- even yelling that you don't need a raise, or barking that you're being stingy if you think your family needs extra income during these tough times - when they themselves and their family live the life of jet-setting rockstars off of the very money you contribute to the church. It is very, very sad.
If your pastor takes luxury cruises and uses your church to market luxury cruises to other rich people in the church - and brags about how many shoes his wife has in the closet - and then lectures you on being materialistic and selfish, you have a world-class hypocrite in the pulpit, and the people who continue to fork over their income need to lay off the grape-flavored Kool Aid.
Next, we'll take a look at some specific examples of tithing nonsense delivered here in Jacksonville during this fall tithing season. It ain't going to be pretty.