Recently I was sitting in a local Nashville institution catching up on some work while my kids were at a birthday party. As I typed, a blank stage stared back at me.
Obviously, in addition to an eatery, it was used as a live music venue during the evening hours. Though there were no performers at the time, the stools, microphones and other equipment remained on stage.
More than anything, one item stood out to me: a red, rusted tip bucket.
My mind automatically switched into business mode: I imagined how many people were grateful to play here, probably not charging any fees, but thankful for the exposure and for whatever tips they earned at the end of the night.
Then I took the audience members perspective and thought about how if I wasn’t being charged to listen to great music, it would only be natural for me to want to give them a tip to show my appreciation.
Of course, if I wasn’t going to the establishment expecting to hear music, or the music was really bad, I definitely wouldn’t be leaving a tip.
Then my mind automatically wandered to our church-going experience.
Too often, we hear about people leaving churches because they “weren’t getting anything out of it”. Personal ownership and responsibility is rarely ever taken into account for what people are actually contributing to the experience, whether it be in time, talent, or even tithe.
Then it dawned on me; perhaps people are treating church like they would a show:
Good music plus good message equals good tip.
Boring atmosphere plus offensive sermon equals no tip.
Biblical accounts outline tithing as giving back 10% of what you take in, but in reality, those of us who are Christians must remember that everything we have belongs to God, so 10% should really be the bare minimum.
It’s been said that only 20% of the church actually makes up 80% percent of tithes and donations received. This fairweather giving, I daresay, has not only contributed to inflated green and self-centeredness we are experiencing as a nation, but to the detriment of many other worthy causes outside of the church.
Our church in Tennessee, Crosspoint, illustrated this extremely effectively a few months ago when they asked every person in attendance to give just one dollar. They asked those of us that do give on a regular basis to give one dollar more and requested that those who wouldn’t normally give would step out of their comfort zone and donate one dollar that day.
That weekend, they collected over $5000 that they then donated to a local church that needed a new roof.
Since then, Crosspoint has created The Dollar Club and we now put it into practice once a month, giving away whatever money is raised to a needy organization or family.
More than anything, this practice should be just that: the practice of giving to something bigger than ourselves on a regular basis, whatever the amount. The habit of giving cultivates not only a culture of generosity, but has proved to often bless the giver even more than the beneficiary.
While it’s important to find a cause you believe in to give your time and money to, it’s even more important just to start and not simply wait until you ‘feel like it’ or until you ‘have enough’ to start giving.
So the question I have for you is this: when you go to church, are you tithing or simply tipping?