Does the Seventh-day Adventist Church Believe in Paying Tithe?

Seventh-day Adventists believe in paying tithe and offerings based on the biblical command and our commitment to being wise stewards of God’s resources. These donations help fund the mission of the Adventist Church by supporting pastors, missionaries, church expenses, and evangelistic projects, among other things.

But giving tithe isn’t only about giving to others. It benefits us too! Through it, we develop greater generosity and learn to put God first and trust Him more.

So where is all of this in the Bible? And how does the system work in the Adventist Church?

Here, we’ll explain:

Keep reading to finally understand this topic.

What does the Bible say about tithe?

Tithe, which means “one-tenth,” is a donation of ten percent of one’s own money to support a religious organization. The Bible uses the word tithe in a similar way to describe setting aside ten percent of one’s earnings for supporting God’s ministry.

The first use of the word tithe is as early as the time of Abraham and Jacob, who offered a ten-percent tithe in the Old Testament (Genesis 28:22; Hebrews 7:4).

Later, the word tithe appears in God’s instruction for the Israelites to offer one-tenth of their income (in the form of herds and crops) to those involved in the work of God’s sanctuary or temple:

“And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord (Leviticus 27:32, NKJV).

“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do” (Deuteronomy 14:28–29, NKJV).

In addition to defining and calling us to give tithe, the Bible explains the details of how and why we should give tithe by giving us the example of Israel.

How the Israelites gave tithe

Since ancient times, God’s followers have given Him a tithe or a ten-percent portion of what they earned. We can see this in the examples of Jacob and Abraham but also in the case of the ancient Israelites.

The Bible explains that God asked the Israelites to give their tithe first, before paying any other expense, by giving God their “first fruits” (Proverbs 3:9).

Now, you might be wondering, What does fruit have to do with tithe?

In Leviticus 27:32 and Deuteronomy 14:28–29, God called the Israelites to tithe their income. But these Bible verses don’t describe their income as cash. It describes it as livestock and crops. The word fruit was simply another word for what they were able to grow and produce.

This makes sense considering that the people of this time lived in agricultural societies. They didn’t earn paychecks—they earned what they grew in their fields and used that to bargain for other necessities.

Thus, they gave the first cash crops they produced as tithe to God.

This tithe went to the tribe of Levi, who had been chosen by God as priests and caretakers of the temple (Numbers 18:20–21). The Levites could eat items like wheat and oil and likely trade for other items (Nehemiah 13:12; 2 Chronicles 31:5).

This way, the priests didn’t have to worry about picking up other jobs. Instead, they could dedicate all their time to working in the temple and ministering to others as God intended.

The fact that the Israelites were called to give the first of their crops to God teaches us to give our tithe to Him first, before using our earnings for anything else. This way, we put God first in all things (Matthew 6:33).

Unfortunately, the Israelites weren’t always faithful in following God’s commandments, and at one point in time, they withheld their tithes from God. While the Bible briefly mentions the other sins they’d committed (Malachi 3:5), it spends a whole section explaining how they’d robbed God by withholding His tithe (Malachi 3:8–9).

This action revealed their hearts.

They prioritized their own needs and desires before God and failed to recognize the purpose of tithe. The act of giving Him their earnings would have been a great act of faith and worship—and they would have seen how God cares for those who trust in Him:

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Malachi 3:10, NKJV).

This verse demonstrates just how important tithe-giving is to God. And as we’ll see, it’s still important today.

Misconceptions about tithe

Many people are uncomfortable with giving tithe. And the reasons are numerous. But often, these reasons come back to common misconceptions about what tithe is and how it’s used.

Let’s address some of them:

Tithe was part of the law of Moses, so Christians are no longer required to pay it

Because the command to tithe was given during the time of the Israelites, many people assume that tithing was only for the Jews.

But the truth is, tithe wasn’t exclusively a part of the mosaic law. In fact, the practice of giving tithe appeared as early as the time of Abraham, who was not a Jew.

Just as the Israelites gave tithe to their priests, so Abraham gave a tenth of his spoils of war to the priest Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:4). And of course, there’s also the instance of Jacob promising God ten percent of everything He gave him (Genesis 28:22).

Tithe was a common practice even before the mosaic law.

And while the New Testament mostly addresses free-will offerings, Jesus does mention the importance of giving tithe when He tells the Pharisees they should give tithe without neglecting their character (Matthew 23:23). Paul also mentions giving tithe to support those who work in ministry (1 Corinthians 9:13–14).

Giving tithe is salvation by works

Some people feel that their relationship with Jesus Christ shouldn’t hinge on the amount of money they give to the church.

And they’re right. It shouldn’t!

God never meant us to think we are saved by how much we give; salvation is offered to us “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1, NKJV).

But obedience to God is a by-product of His work in our lives. Out of love for Him, we give our tithe and support His work, trusting that the blessing He offers will be even greater than we can imagine.

On another note, tithe isn’t meant to be an opportunity for church members to display wealth; instead, it allows us to honor our Creator (Proverbs 3:9; Matthew 6:4). And when we give, God asks us to give in humility and quietness (Matthew 6:1–4).

If my church doesn’t use my money wisely, my gift will have been for nothing

While it’s true that not every church leader makes the best decisions, this isn’t a valid reason to forego giving tithe.

If we look at this situation from the angle of stewardship, we’ll be reminded that everything we have—including the money we’ve earned—comes from God. Therefore, it’s not up to us what we do with our tithe money. Because God asked us to give ten percent, it is our responsibility to give no matter what.

Jesus had reason to be concerned about the corruption of the temple during His time (Matthew 21:12–13). Yet, He still saw the value of people giving their money to God through the temple system (Luke 21:3–4).1

I can’t pay my bills if I pay tithe

The idea of relying on God can seem scary at times—especially when we’re in a tough spot financially.

The Bible tells us that we don’t ever have to worry about running out of money when we give tithe. God promises to provide, perhaps not for extravagance but most definitely for necessities. He even set up the ten-percent system to ensure everyone would be able to pay based on their wages (Deuteronomy 16:17).

Not only that, but He promises to overfill our lives with blessings when we faithfully give to Him (Malachi 3:10).

What does the Bible say about freewill offerings?

When it comes to giving offerings, Scripture encourages us to give faithfully, generously, and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 8:2–5; 9:6–7). That means there’s no rule about how much we should give, though the Bible encourages Christians to give in proportion to how Christ has blessed them (2 Corinthians 8:12)

And like with tithe, God asks us to give offerings from the “first fruits” of our labor by setting them aside as soon as we receive our paychecks (2 Corinthians 8:5).

One of the most popular stories in the New Testament about offerings is that of a widow who gave all she had—two small coins—in offering to the Lord (Mark 12:41–44).

Even though her gift was small, she gave from the heart.

That doesn’t mean that Jesus expects us to give all our money to the church—He still wants us to support ourselves so we don’t become a burden to others (2 Thessalonians 3:8).

At the same time, He doesn’t want us to be afraid to put all our trust in Him.

Just like tithe, offerings are designed to bring us closer to Him as we step forward in humble faith that He will bless us and use our gifts to bless others.

Why do Adventists give tithe and offerings?

In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we believe that God still asks members to pay tithe and offerings because doing so is an act of stewardship and provides a way to support God’s work.

Of course, we recognize that some things have changed between now and the time of the Israelites. For one, most people don’t make their living through farming. And we no longer have the sanctuary system and priests of the Old Testament.

But rather than throwing out the concept altogether, we can take the principle of tithing and apply it to modern times.

Because most people earn money rather than crops, we give a percentage of our monetary income. Since we no longer have priests, we give our tithe to people and programs that similarly support God’s ministry (like pastors and evangelistic outreach).

Let’s look at the reasons we do so.

To obey God

First and foremost, Adventists pay tithe because God asks us to. And really, the Bible tells us that when we give tithe, we’re not so much donating money to God as we are returning the money that was His all along (Haggai 2:8).

Think of it this way:

The entire reason we have anything is that God gives us the resources we need to earn a living. Tithing acknowledges the fact that every good thing comes from our Creator.

This concept reflects our fundamental belief in the Christian principle of stewardship, which is all about protecting and caring for the things God has given us.

To support others and God’s work

Both tithes and offerings contribute to the ultimate mission of the church—to make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:16–20).

Our faithful tithe is part of the responsibility God gives each one of us to witness to others.

And what an amazing responsibility that is!

While God could easily find a way to finance His mission on His own, He allows us to have a small role in contributing the money we earn. Through His power, those gifts can transform people’s lives.

We can support ministries to give underdeveloped communities free education and healthcare. We can reach people overseas who’ve never heard about Jesus. We can even use our funds to reach the community around us through food donations, seminars, and community service projects.

To grow spiritually

Tithes and offerings don’t only transform the lives of people impacted by church ministry. They also transform the life of the giver!

For starters, the act of giving can teach us to be more like Christ.

It reminds us to think of other people’s needs before our own. It helps us practice our faith in Him, reminding us that even if we give while we’re struggling to make ends meet, God will provide for us.

It can also be a wonderful opportunity to show Him we love Him.

On other occasions, we give offerings simply as a way of giving honor and thanks to God (2 Corinthians 9:12).

After all, as we already pointed out, everything we have (our money, food, etc.) comes from Him. Even though we work hard to earn what we have, the grace of God enables us to do that work.

Now that you understand a little more about why Adventists give tithes and offerings, you may be wondering how the giving system in our church works.

The giving system of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Adventist Church has a system that allows tithes and offerings to be distributed evenly to churches and ministries across the world. In this way, the money helps support the worldwide efforts of the church, not just the local pastor or evangelistic efforts.

Keep reading to understand this system and how it started.

Distribution and use of tithe

In the Bible, the Israelites collected tithe into a storehouse before distributing it to the priests (2 Chronicles 31:4–9; Malachi 3:10). Likewise, Adventists send their money to their local church where it’s dispersed between different branches of church administration until it reaches the highest level—the General Conference.2

This money is first and foremost used to fund pastors. But it also supports:3

  • Conference administrative staff and Bible workers
  • Evangelism projects
  • Member ministries (like Adventist schools and media)
  • Conference office expenses
  • Camp meeting expenses

The journey of your tithe money might look like this:

Once you submit your tithe (whether into your church’s offering plate or online), it ends up in the office of the church treasurer. Treasurers record how much money they receive and keep it in a safe until they can send the money to the local conference.4

The local conference gives ten percent of the tithe to its union conference. Then, the union conference will take the money it receives and send one-tenth of it to the General Conference.5

By letting the church leaders in the conference allocate the tithe money, we promote an equal distribution of funds to every church.

Without this system, each local church would receive only the donations of its members. This could mean that larger churches would have an excess of funds, while small churches might struggle with paying for basic expenses. There would also be a greater chance of pastors misusing the funds.

Instead, we’re able to make sure every church receives funding according to its needs.

This process was developed over the years as our early pioneers were looking for a solution to provide their pastors with better, more consistent pay.

How the tithing system developed in the Adventist Church

Support for church ministers was such a prominent issue in early Adventist history that it led to our Church’s very first donation system, then referred to as systematic benevolence. This plan encouraged people to give systematically and generously.6

This practice of free-giving was conducted until 1876 when D.M. Canright discovered the concept of the ten-percent tithe during Bible study. As Adventists began giving tithe to support ministers, the Church was able to drastically expand its evangelistic efforts and reach more people than ever.7

Eventually, church leaders decided to expand this payment to conference administrative staff and Bible workers, who were also directly responsible for enabling ministry efforts.

Ellen White, an Adventist pioneer, supported this biblical tithing system, saying:

“You ask if I will accept tithe from you and use it in the cause of God where most needed. In reply I will say that I shall not refuse to do this, but at the same time I will tell you that there is a better way. It is better to put confidence in the ministers of the conference where you live, and in the officers of the church where you worship. Draw nigh to your brethren.”8

Here’s how that process looks today.

How to give tithe

The tithe-giving process can vary from person to person, but typically, we

  • Give ten percent of our income. Most Adventists take this amount off their gross (pre-tax) income as a way of honoring the principle of giving God the “first fruits” of their labor.
  • Give it to the church we’re a member of.9
  • Give tithe regularly, usually as soon as we receive our paychecks.10

There are a couple of different options for doing this.

Most Adventists go the traditional route and submit their tithe at church.

There, you’ll find tithe envelopes in slots on the back of each pew. Simply place your tithe in the envelope and fill out the information, including name, address, and amount. (You can even fill out a separate section if you’re looking to submit an offering along with your tithe.)

Then, this tithe envelope goes in the offering plates passed out by the deacons during the main church service.

If you aren’t able to submit your tithe in person, you also have the option to submit your tithe in other ways. Check with your church treasurer to see what kind of online-giving methods your church offers.

Some of the most common options include:11

  • Using the Church’s official giving app (Adventist Giving)
  • Mailing a check to your conference
  • Using a text-giving service
  • Placing a direct deposit in your local church’s bank account
  • Giving your payment details over the phone

Offerings can be given in much the same way. Next, we’ll look at what happens to them.

Distribution and use of offerings

While tithe is meant for certain people and projects, offerings can be given to any ministry of your choice. Most Adventists send offerings through the local church.

For this reason, we give offerings the same way we give tithe, whether that involves handing in an offering envelope or sending our money online. If you’re filling out your offering envelope, you’ll notice it has blanks where you can record your gift amount next to each category.

These categories include12:

  • Local church expenses
  • Outreach projects
  • Local church and community projects
  • Mission projects
  • Building funds

Adventists also have what they call the 13th Sabbath Offering, a special quarterly collection during Sabbath School for different mission projects. Each quarter (three-month period), they present a new project that members can give to if they feel so inclined.

The 13th Sabbath Offering is especially meaningful because it gives members a chance to support initiatives they’re passionate about.

On other occasions, members give offerings simply as a way of thanking God for the blessings He’s given them (such as when people give birthday offerings to thank God for another year of life).

Some of these offerings collections, such as the 13th Sabbath Offering, occur at Sabbath School.

No matter how you do it, giving offerings in addition to paying regular tithe will bless you and the entire church body!

Why are tithes and offerings so important?

Giving tithe is an expression of our love and obedience to God. And an act of worship that promises to bring so many blessings in return.

When asked why it’s so important that church members give tithe, Joe Bouchelle, former treasurer of the Elkton Seventh-day Adventist Church, said:

“I think that it’s important because it’s God’s commandment. It’s the only time in Scripture He tells us to test Him…[and] the recompense is unbelievable.”

Though you’d think God wouldn’t need our offerings, He makes us the channel to change the lives of people all around the world.

And tithes and offerings aren’t just important because they help the church fulfill its mission.

They also help each of us draw closer to God through faith in His promises.

As we give to God’s storehouse, He’s promised to open His heavenly storehouse and pour out a blessing that we won’t have enough room to receive (Malachi 3:10)!

If you’re interested in learning more about ways we can give back to God, take a look at “What Seventh-day Adventists Believe About Stewardship (and What It Means).”

  1. “Tithe: What the Bible Says,”  []
  2. “The Central Storehouse the Biblical Model,” Stewardship Ministries. []
  3. “Use of Tithe,”  []
  4.  “Treasurer and Assistants,”  []
  5. Tithing Principles and Guidelines (Silver Spring, MD: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists), p. 20. []
  6.  Burt, Merlin, “How Adventists Adopted the Bible Teaching of Tithing,” Stewardship Ministries. []
  7. Ibid. []
  8. “What is the ‘Storehouse’ in Reference to Tithe?” Ellen G. White Estate. []
  9. Tithing Principles and Guidelines, p. 20.  []
  10. Ibid., p. 18. []
  11. “Even When Churches Are Not Available: Giving Options,”[]
  12. “Tithes and Offerings,”[]

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