"I have known for some time that the terrible rate of tithing among church members will eventually bring our city to destruction," said Stuart Weems of Collaboration Church. "The Lord's patience can only be tested so long - and now it looks like we will be paying the price unless His people belly up to the pew and pay their tithes."
But the megachurch pastors - many of them who have large financial investments in Jacksonville in their million dollar homes and other real estate investments - believe there is still time to sway God's mind if enough Christians quickly show their willingness to fork over the required 10% tithe.
"God can and will change his mind, if His people will hear His voice and tithe", said a spokesman for Collaboration Church. "Our church will open at 7:00 am Thursday to begin the collection of tithes from recalcitrant, God-robbing Christians from all over the First Coast. These funds will likely be used to help those cities who do end up being battered from Hurricane Irma after the Lord steers her away from our city - or to rebuild our pastors' homes if enough Christians don't respond in time to change God's mind and change Irma's path."
One local pastor said anonymously that "God collects on what he is owed. God collects on it....God says when you are to bring the tithe and you refuse to do it, he will poke holes in your purses and bring calamity on your city". The pastor was quoting out of Haggai chapter 1 in the Old Testament.
There is some precedent of setting a deadline for God's people to get caught up on their tithing to appease an angry God. Former Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd in 2014 famously set a deadline for Christians to get "caught up" on their tithing:
"The key question we [pastors] need to ask [church members] repeatedly: As you review and understand clearly ALL of your sources of income in 2014, have you honored God by giving at least the first one-tenth to your local church? If you have not, then insure you do so before December 31 so that you can know you have walked in complete obedience to God in 2014 in relationship to biblical stewardship.""Last year hurricane Matthew should have been a wake-up call to Christians all over the Jacksonville area", said pastor Tom Fester of Trinity Church. "But giving at our church and other mega churches in this area has actually declined since Hurricane Matthew grazed us last year. Apparently non-tithing Christians have not learned their lesson."
The tithing vigil will begin at 7:00 am on Thursday at Collaboration Church off of the I-295 East Beltway, and will remain open until 7:00 pm to collect tithes. Call the church for more details on how to give by phone or online.