Tithing and church finances

Some critics allege that Bro. Branham’s teachings on tithing were wrong, and state that Christ does not require New Testament Christians to give to the church. Those who make their accusation do so by taking things Bro. Branham spoke out of context. The best way to interpret his teachings is to see the manner in which he himself collected tithes and received income in the church he pastored, the Branham Tabernacle.

How was tithing conducted at Bro. Branham’s church?

1935 Tabernacle newspaper article. Click to enlarge

At the Branham Tabernacle, tithing was voluntary from the inception of the church. From the earliest days of the church, Bro. Branham did not take up collections. Bro. Branham worked regular jobs until he began his campaign meetings in 1947. Bro. Branham did not take a salary from the church during his time as pastor. In later years, he did draw a salary from the donations to his healing campaigns, as he was unable to work to support his family otherwise during that time.

Tithing is voluntary

Practices around tithing differ between churches in the Branham Movement, but generally tithing is entirely a voluntary giving. Very few churches pass a plate or take up a collection as part of their service, except it be an extraordinary case. The New Testament encourages giving to the church for distribution to the operation of the church and the needy, but it does not define how much should be given. Message Believers are encouraged to tithe a tenth part of their income to the church, in imitation of Abraham who tithed a tenth part of his income to God. Abraham gave his tithe voluntarily, and likewise believers are to give their tithe voluntarily. Therefore most message believers view passing the plate or soliciting a tithe as being somewhat less than voluntary and not in keeping with scripture. In the majority of message churches people are not asked to give.

Because message believers view tithing as a voluntary act, it is more similar in practice to an offering than the historical biblical tithe, which was a requirement. The critics who argue against Bro. Branham’s tithing statements seem to ignore this key difference. The New Testament certainly supports voluntary giving. The tithing practiced by followers of Bro. Branham more closely resemble what other denominations would call “offerings”.

Bro. Branham never taught in detail on tithing as a subject. He was asked questions about tithing on multiple occasions for the very reason that he had not preached on the subject. The questions were related to whether he believed Christians should support their church through tithing, and to what degree they should contribute. It is his brief answers to tithing questions that critics based their complaints against him. He stated he believed in tithing a tenth part, and that it should primarily go the financial support of the ministry.

Management of finances

Most churches have deacons which have been appointed to handle the financial affairs of the church and account for the money. In many countries, it is a legal requirements that such a board of deacons or trustees be in place for this purpose. It is also in keeping with the scripture. Deacons were appointed, in part, to ensure that the use of the funds of the church was done fairly and without partiality. (Acts 6:1-4)

In Old Testament times certain priests were set over the treasury, to maintain an accounting of the money and to ensure it was distributed properly. In New Testament times, the same is true, and deacons perform this function. The deacons, however, do not have exclusive oversight of the church finances, as pastors are also be stewards over the church and its assets. (Titus 1:7-9)

The scripture points to a joint management of the assets of the church, with a pastor serving as a steward of the assets, and the deacons ensuring proper distribution and taking an active role in distributing. God has thus given the church a wise system of checks and balances to ensure the church can avoid any appearance of evil.

What are church funds to be used for?

The tithes and offerings are used to support the church overall. As in the days of Old Testament, all the workers at the temple received pay for their work. So to, the funds of the church are used to compensate everyone who performs work for the church, such as mowing the lawn, cleaning the building, paying for roof repairs, or utility bills.

The church also has an obligation to provide an income to its minsters. Paul explains to Timothy that he is permitted to have part of the income of the church for his personal needs. (1 Timothy 5:18) Jesus likewise instructs the apostles to expect the people who have accepted the gospel to provide for their necessities, including food and board. (Luke 10:7) Paul also states his own right to take an income from the churches he ministered to. (1 Co 9:6–7) Most message ministers also hold a regular job in addition to ministering, like the Apostle Paul did, and do not over burden their churches. (Acts 18:3) However, those involved heavily in missionary work, or pastors with large flocks that need more care, are more likely to be fully supported by the church. This is completely scriptural and we find this all to be supported by the New Testament.

Does the New Testament require tithing?

Critics argue that the New Testament does not have the word tithe, and that giving is not a requirement. However, the scripture is quite clear that giving, and doing so through the church, is an ordinance to be followed.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him

1 Corinthians 16:1-2

Giving to the church is required for meeting the needs of the saints. Whether it be to provide a salary for the minister, to help the widows, or to aid a distant church in need, or to rent a place for fellowship, it is all for the saints, and all an acceptable use of the church’s funds.

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Please, by the teachings of the Bible and the Prophet Branham, is it wrong for a brother to ask for financial assistance from a message brother he knows from another assembly?