You’ve saved diligently and always spent less than you earn. You’ve lived your life on a budget and have a healthy emergency fund.
Then the economic troubles we are all facing start to catch up to you and your family. One person in the two-income situation loses a job. You slowly start to dig into your emergency fund.
Yet you have committed to giving 10% of your income every month, and you support two missionary families currently deployed overseas at $50 per month. These items are keeping you on the brink of financial crisis — some months you can pay all of your bills, others you have to dip into the emergency fund.
You can’t keep this up forever.
Should You Stop Tithing?
This is a controversial topic. (One in which I am not exactly an expert by any means.)
Tithing is a personal decision that you (or you and your spouse) must make on your own. Personally we tithe 10% of everything we earn. So if our earnings were to go down through a spouse being laid off, then our tithing would go down as well.
But what if the loss of income is so great that even the reduction in tithing isn’t able to offset all of the financial stress being placed on your family? Is it okay to stop then?
I would argue that unless you are in the most dire of situations, no. Your tithe is an offering to God of what you have reaped financially. If you are bringing in income then 10% should come off the top immediately and be given to Him. Remember the widow and two coins from Luke 21.
Things get cloudy if you have cut all possible expenses and you’re still in financial trouble. You aren’t hanging on to internet, cable, or cell phone bills. You’ve dropped all of those and are still under water financially.
In this case I would look for guidance from one of our pastors. Obviously praying should guide your decision as well.
Is It Okay to Drop Missionary Support Temporarily?
From what I understand missionaries, unfortunately, have to deal with a decent amount of turnover in their supporters. Tough times at home mean really tough times out in the field for missionaries. I get the feeling that missions may be one of the first things to go simply because you don’t see your missionaries every Sunday at church. There is less guilt involved because you don’t have to look them in the eye as you cut back on your contributions.
I would do everything possible to keep our missionary obligations paid even at the expense of our church tithe. That may seem backwards, but we go to a large, financially healthy church. Our contributions are a small number as a percentage compared to our contributions to missionaries we support.
If we had cut everything to the bone to reduce our expenses and were still in financial trouble I’m not sure what we would do. There would be a lot of praying and talking with our pastors before making a decision. We would e-mail our missionaries as well since calling internationally really isn’t an option.
Again, I’m not a biblical scholar. I’m a human being that makes mistakes. What would you do in this situation?