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Who should we pay tithes to, the church or the pastor?

The issue of where our giving should go is involved in the doctrine of the local church as it is outlined in the New Testament. The local church is to be governed and led by a group of men called elders or overseers. The term “elder” looks at the dignity of the office and “overseer” at their function. These are really the pastors who are responsible for leading the local body of believers. Among the elders, churches usually have one or two men (sometimes more depending on the size of the church) who are devoted to studying and teaching and equipping others for ministry (see Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Tim. 3:1ff; 5:17f).

As the leaders of the church, they, along with deacons who are the elders helpers, are responsible to oversee the use of the funds for the needs of the church. This would include a livable wage for those giving their time to full- time service.

If there is one person in control of the money, then you have not only an unscriptural situation but one that can lead to fraud. For a biblical illustration of the way the leadership is to work, compare the situation in Acts 6. There the leaders (in this case, the apostles), appointed seven men who took care of the distribution of the funds or food for the needs of the people. In today’s terms, this would be equivalent to the function of the elders who appointed deacons to care for such issues.

This begins with the establishment and selection of qualified men as elders to lead the church. For more on this, see A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry and The Measure of a New Testament Church on our web site.

For more on the issue of tithing, see the study called Financial Faithfulness on our web site.

Related Topics: Tithing