Tithing is defined as returning ten percent of your first fruits (earnings) to God through His storehouse, which in modern-day understanding is the church. Offering is considered giving additional contribution, apart from tithes, characterized as an act of love and generosity.
Tithes are used to directly support the mission and ministry of God. Ellen G. White states that “the payment of the tithe was but a part of God’s plan for the support of His service” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 336). While the concept of tithes and offerings has not changed over time, the process has evolved based on the specific religious organization. The structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a worldwide denomination, is distinctly designed in a way that allows each church to be connected and supported through its headquarters, the General Conference. Thus, tithes returned at the local church primarily support the ministry of the local conference and local church (through the conference) as well as mission around the world. Alternatively, offerings contributed remain exclusively at the local church to fund the local ministry, unless specifically identified otherwise.
Understanding the tithing system and the support it renders to God’s mission is valuable. What follows is a simplistic example of how $1.00 of tithe is distributed:
$0.77 – Retained at the local Conference – Conference expenditures include but are not limited to: Conference and local church evangelism, educational institutions (up to 30 percent), employees’ salaries and benefits (including retirement funding), Conference office operating expenses, and Conference-supported events and initiatives.
$0.09 – Distributed to the assigned Union Conference – Union expenditures include but are not limited to: appropriations and grants to local Conferences, Union and local Conference-supported events and initiatives, and Union office operating expenses.
$0.14 – Distributed to the North American Division (NAD) and General Conference (GC) – NAD and GC expenditures include but are not limited to: funding domestic and global mission programs, evangelism, institutional (educational, healthcare, media, etc.) and office operating expenses.
At the end of 2021, it was reported that in the NAD, a combined total of $1.2 billion was returned to God’s storehouse. Through faithfulness in tithing, God’s mission was carried out around the Division and worldwide as tens of thousands were baptized, thousands of students received education through the Adventist school system, healthcare was provided to employees, and so much more.
“When all are faithful in giving back to God His own in tithes and offerings, the way will be opened for the world to hear the messages for this time. There would be no lack of funds for home or foreign missions. Our resources would be multiplied.” (Ellen G. White, Counsels for the Church, p. 275)
Jermaine Jackson is Stewardship director and associate treasurer of the Lake Union Conference.