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The Problems in the Pews

The black church is unequivocally the most service-based and philanthropic organization in the black community.1 Since its inception the principle of giving as a means to meet the needs of the least of these has been central to the identity and overall purpose of the black church. This spirit of giving precedes the formation of the black church in America—it extends back to life in the African village where the essence of life included helping one’s neighbor and caring for those who were unable to care for themselves.

In a time of economic crisis and scarcity in the country and certainly in the black community, tithing may be a very challenging concept for many. Though economic progress has been made since the onset of the economic recession in 2008, the reality is that blacks were struggling financially before the recession and continue to struggle. Those in both the lower and middle classes continue to struggle financially as joblessness and layoffs continue to plague our nation and the black community in particular.

The spiritual principle of tithing must be taken very seriously in order for the black church to continue to thrive and function as the cornerstone of caring in the black community. Without the consistent gifts and generosity of the church as a whole, the black community as a whole will fail to thrive and walk in the fullness of freedom, wholeness, and good health which is what God intends. In order to remain consistent and even increase tithing in the black church, there are several strategies that can be adopted:

  • Sermons and Bible study series on giving

  • Launch a major stewardship campaign after you have completed the sermon series and Bible Study on tithing. Make sure that the campaign concerns a great need that the church and/or community has. Perhaps a survey should be done to determine the need. If you do not know how to launch a stewardship campaign, there are good books and websites that will aid you.

  • You can even do a new campaign each year. One campaign may raise funds to help low-income seniors pay their utility bills. Another could help the church provide backpacks and school supplies for low-income elementary school students. Still another could help raise funds so that your church can work collaboratively with another major organization and contribute financially to stemming a community problem such as gun violence or illiteracy. And of course there are the standard stewardship campaigns that provide for church refurbishment and repair.

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