Pastoral Perspectives

You can PayNow if you want to!

Last Sunday, many of you would have heard or read the announcement on the giving of tithe and offering via PayNow. I believe most of you know what PayNow is and many are perhaps glad that the church has finally jumped on the bandwagon of churches utilising this electronic fund transfer service. What about tithe and offering? What is the difference between the two? I guess most would say that tithe is the giving of 10% of our income to the church while offering is on top of or apart from this giving. But some might ask whether this 10% tithing, which is based on OT law, is still relevant and binding for the NT church.

I was asked this question about a decade ago and I wrote a perspective on it. It was published again about a year ago (13 Jan 19) and so I shall not repeat what I had written there other than to say that I believe it remains a biblically sound principle. For the church needs fund in order to function and serve God’s purposes. So believers give their tithes to the local congregation that they are part of in the same way people pay taxes to countries that they are citizens of or membership fees to organisations that they are members of. And surely tithe is a better word to use than tax or membership fee and is still relevant for the people of God today according to the spirit of the OT law but not binding as a law.

Offering, on the other hand, is a general word that can include our tithes, songs of praises or the flowers that we offer up to God. It is used here to refer to other monetary giving apart from tithe. Believers may give offering on top of their tithes to their church, especially for special events, projects or humanitarian purposes. They may also give to churches they visit in the same way that visitors may give to us when they join our service. They are not obliged to give but they choose to do so heartily as a token of love. In the perspective that I had written, I also briefly explained why this church had pledged to give away a percentage of our collection to para-organisations. Some may see this percentage giving as the church’s responsibility to tithe and are thus troubled when the church adopts a new formula for the giving. Others like myself see this as an offering to bless others and the church is merely exercising good stewardship when tweaking the giving in the light of changing circumstances, constraints and opportunities. That’s tithe and offering from a faith point of view.

Nevertheless, some of you might be wondering if it is necessary to indicate whether a giving is for tithe or offering since it all goes to the same general fund. Can’t the church receive all giving in good faith without the need to indicate? It is a valid question indeed and I can confirm that it does not matter from an accounting point of view. The request to indicate is made because of the way collections are counted for each service and reflected as tithes and offerings in the following Sunday’s bulletin. Hence the request to indicate is made for those giving via PayNow so that the giving can be reflected accordingly. But if we were to tweak our counting process and reflect all giving as Sunday collection, then we can perhaps do away with the need to indicate and the need for tithing envelops as well. But I suppose there are pros and cons for either ways and would require careful consideration and deliberation.

Finally, I recall a decision made long time ago not to implement GIRO as a form of giving. The leadership then felt that giving is an act of worship whereby the worshipper participates by putting his or her giving into the bag as it is being passed. GIRO takes this element away. But PayNow allows for it and that is why Pastor Kien Seng encouraged those giving via PayNow to ‘press the button’ when the offering bag is being passed so that they may join the body in the act of giving. But let us also remember that congregational worship is more than just the act of giving or the size of the giving. It begins with the people gathering as one body to prepare for the entry of the Word and ends with the people dispersing after the Benediction and involves all that happens in-between, and in the heart, mind and spirit of each worshipper.

Rev Ronnie Ang

March 1, 2020