Since our church launched — less than 7 years ago — we have given away over $429,698 to individuals and organizations that could use a helping hand. Here is the story….
As we were dreaming about planting a church, we felt God calling us to “tithe” on what was given to it. In other words, the first portion given to The Eastside Vineyard would go outside our walls.
Why? Because our mission is “Joining God in His work to make His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This mission is all about advancing the Kingdom of God on earth. And that task is much bigger than our church! So we felt we ought to strategically give to what God is doing outside of our church as well as inside of it.
This became known as the “tithe on our tithe.” On Day 1, our church committed to giving away the first 10% of every dollar given to us. Since our launch in 2010 we have been increasing this amount – a little bit each year – so we currently give away 23%! This page has been written to help you understand where this money goes and what it is used for, as well as answering some frequently asked questions. As you click the links below you’ll read an overview of the issues and organizations our Advisory Board has felt led by God to give toward. We hope what you read blesses you and stirs something in your spirit.
There are many issues in this world that break God’s heart — things He calls His church to do something about: clean water in Kenya, orphans in India, AIDS in South Africa, poverty in America… the list goes on. The question we wrestled with was this: where is God calling our church to make an impact?
We felt like the primary social cause our church needed to focus on is what is known as “human trafficking.” This is another way of saying “sex slavery.” While this happens in places on the other side of the world, it’s also happening in the United States at an alarming rate. 11% of our budget goes to organizations that are on the front lines in the fight against human trafficking. This percentage is divided between Love 146, ESTHER’s Children, and 70×7. Here’s a snapshot of each:
ESTHER is an acronym for End Sex Trafficking for HER. Founded in Clarkston, Michigan, their dream is to be like Esther in the Bible, that God would use them as His vessel to rescue children in Recife, Brazil for His glory. Official reports estimate there are half a million children in Brazil that have fallen victim to child prostitution, second only to Thailand. Girls are forced into a life of prostitution, often by family members, at ages as young as 8. For these families, prostitution is a lifestyle being passed down from one generation to another. Their goal is to break this cycle through community development and family intervention. At their Quiet Strength Community Center, the staff of ESTHER’s Children educates the girls about the problem, and teaches them a different way of life, and how to re- write their own future as an independent girl in a dignified way. For more info, please go to: estherschildren.org
70×7 is an Abide branch ministry of friendship and prayer primarily focused within the community of people involved in at-risk activities in Detroit, Michigan. Over several years, Donna McCauley has developed friendships with men and women on the streets of Detroit and families who need encouragement in their faith. Donna, along with her 70×7 team of friends who have a long term commitment to encouraging others, spend time with these individuals and families on a weekly basis. Encouragement is given in the form of friendship, dignity, bible study, prayer and the meeting of a few basic needs. For more information, please go to: www.abide.community
6% of our budget goes to “help those who need help” right here in our community, whether it’s people who attend our church or people who come across our path. Here is a small sampling of the ways this money has been used:
- we have given grocery gift cards to several individuals and families that were struggling to make ends meet due to various circumstances.
- we purchased paint, drywall, fencing, and other supplies to help transform an abandoned house in Pontiac into a home for a family coming out of a difficult time.
- we paid for a hotel stay for a person who lost his apartment, to keep him from being homeless while he was figuring out a permanent place to live.
- we helped a family that was affected by cancer with medical bills.
- we bought 30 uniforms for kids at a school where many of them only own one set of clothes they wore all week long.
Since we are The Eastside VINEYARD Church, 3% of our budget goes to Vineyard USA. 1/3 of this money goes toward planting new Vineyard churches. 1/3 goes to supporting overseas missions in The Vineyard. 1/3 goes toward their “inward” expenses (e.g., the national office). For a frame of reference, churches belonging to other denominations/associations have reported their “dues” equate to 6%, 10%, or more of their budget, and the bulk of these funds are used inwardly. Because our church is part of The Vineyard, our lead pastor has received ongoing coaching and mentoring from various Vineyard pastors on a 1-on-1 and group basis which has helped him in significant ways. This is just one of the benefits our church receives because we are Vineyard. For more information, go to vineyardusa.org or vineyard.org (for a worldwide perspective)
When it comes to tithing on our tithe, here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
What is the biblical basis for doing this?
The biblical basis for “tithing on our tithe” comes from four verses in the book of Numbers: The Lord said to Aaron… “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting” (Numbers 18:20,21). So the people of Israel gave these priests 10% of their income. But before the Levites used this money to live off of, they were required to give a portion away: The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering” (Numbers 18:25-26). In other words, these priests were called to “tithe” on the “tithe” they received. As our leadership team read these verses, we felt God calling us to do the same.
Why not stop at 10%?
We believe God calls Christians to be radically generous. In other words, while giving away 10% is a wonderful thing to do, as followers of Jesus we should always be pushing ourselves to be more generous. To be more openhanded. That’s why our church began by giving away 10% but we have incrementally raised this amount so that we are currently giving away 22% of our 2016 budget.
How much has the church given away?
Since we launched in October 2010, our church has given away over $429,698 to the people and organizations outlined in the links above.
Why is everything black-and-white?
One of our values is to be inwardly frugal so we can be outwardly generous. That’s why things like the weekly program you receive at church, The Eastsider newsletter, and this pamphlet are black- and-white and printed on plain paper. Printing them this way costs us just 2 1/2 cents per sheet. It may not be fancy, but it gets the job done. This is just one of the intentional choices we made that enables us to give 20% of our budget away.
Why not spend this money “inwardly”?
As you read that we gave away over $429,698, some of you may have felt a bit conflicted. On the one hand you may think it is great that so much money has been given to families in need and to causes like the fight against child sex slavery. But on the other hand, you may feel like the church should spend this money inwardly so we can purchase a building faster or hire more staff. Here are three thoughts we’d like you to consider:
“In the black” with our budget
One of the most common problems a new church encounters is lack of financial resources. Unfortunately the majority of new churches close their doors within the first few years because they can’t make ends meet. Our church has defied these odds. In fact, in our first three years we have ended each year “in the black” with our budget. One fun statistic… in 2012 we ended the year giving away 15% of our budget through “tithing on our tithe” and we ended the year receiving 15% more than we budgeted for. That’s a 30% swing! We like to call this “God Math”!
People assume that if we didn’t give away $429,698 over the past few years, we’d have been able to use this money toward our building fund or have been able to hire a few more staff. We don’t agree with that logic. That line of thinking is based on the assumption that we would have received the same amount each year whether or not we gave a penny away. While we can’t prove this, we believe if we chose to be “close handed” with our budget and given away 0% or just a small portion, we would have ended each year “in the red” (behind budget). We feel like God is prompting people to be radically generous in giving to our church because our church is radically generous in what we give away.
The principle of tithing
Sometimes people ask, “Why not start tithing on your tithe in a few years, after you get more established as a church?” If we did that, we’d probably never get around to tithing, because there are always things you can spend more money on inwardly. In addition, this violates the principle of the tithe. A “tithe” is defined as giving God the first fruits of your harvest, not giving Him the leftovers.