One of our congregation’s practices for many years has been to give away, or “tithe,” 10% of the contributions we receive each month as a way of sharing our gifts with God’s world. Here’s an update on where this practice came from, why, and what we’re doing now.
How the tithe practice originated:
LNPC’s tithing practice started at a time when we were feeling financially insecure, which created anxiety about money and made us act as though money was what gave us security. By choosing to give more of it away, we were reestablishing our trust that this is God’s church and we are here to participate in God’s ministry. It felt scary and big and did what we hoped it would: it put us back into joy instead of fear, and it gave us a couple years of cool connections with outside groups (like Marnita’s Table). A month after we decided to do it is when the first Spanish-speaking congregation approached us about worshiping in our space (“God told me to stop here and ask you if we could worship here”), paying us roughly the same amount we were giving away. It made us remember we belong to God and each other and practice trusting that.
What has changed:
Over time, however, the tithing practice stopped doing what it was meant to, and became a duty. Session had trouble keeping up, thinking of places to give each month, and communicating all this with the congregation. In recent years, session has directed six months of tithes to various local nonprofit organizations and six months of tithes toward building maintenance, in recognition of the role our space plays in supporting and connecting with our neighbors. But particularly as our building use has changed (and paused during the pandemic), the practice of “tithing” to the building has also started to feel out of sync with how we want to stay connected to God’s broader work in the world.
Our new giving approach:
After several months of discussion, session has voted to formally end this previous tithing practice, shifting our giving instead to a few core areas where we see God at work in the world and where we feel called to remember our belonging to God and to each other.
Each year, we will direct six $1,000 gifts to organizations that focus on:
- food/housing insecurity
- financial justice
- community-based programming in South Minneapolis
- racial justice
- climate action
In 2023 these partners include EveryMeal, TRUST, Exodus Lending, Simpson Food shelf, ClimateGen, and East Phillips Neighborhood Institute.