When I was a District Superintendent, I met with the Pastor Parish Relations Committee of a congregation in my district whose pastor was retiring. Asked about the gifts the congregation was seeking in their next pastor, the chair of the committee insisted the main quality they wanted was a “Bible-preaching pastor.”
Our bishop and cabinet took this request seriously and appointed a young pastor fresh out of seminary who was a devoted follower of Jesus and a great student of the Bible.
Three months later, I received an angry phone call from the chair of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee, upset with the sermon the pastor had preached that Sunday morning.
I asked what the sermon was about. His answer: tithing, and he didn’t like it.
I reminded him he had wanted a “Bible-preaching pastor” and that tithing is in the Bible. “I don’t want him preaching that part of the Bible,” he said and hung up the phone.
I suspect many of us are a bit uncomfortable when it comes to talking about tithing our income or even giving generously to support God’s work in our world.
I did not grow up in a family that tithed, but in my meditations on Scripture and through the influence of my wife, I came to experience the joy that comes through giving at least 10% of our gross income each year to support the work of the Kingdom.
God spoke to me through Malachi, who wrote: “Bring the full tithe into storehouse…and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of Hosts: see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing” (Malachi 3:10).
We don’t tithe or give generously in order to be blessed, but, when we take God seriously and give God at least 10% of our resources, we discover that we experience blessings we had not anticipated.
Cheri and I have given $5,000 so far to United’s Second Mile Campaign and have committed up to $3,000 more for remodeling one of the Intentional Community homes for seminary students near the DaytonView campus. My wife, a savvy DIY remodeler and decorater, warns me this might not be enough!
We are especially grateful to our lead donors: Rick and Vicki James of Fort Wayne, IN, who have committed $500,000; Jim and Beverly Tharp of Cincinnati, OH, who have committed $150,000; an anonymous United Trustee who has given $25,000; Jim and Jan Heinrich of St. Marys, OH, who have given $6,000; Ruth Daugherty of Lancaster, PA, who has committed $5,000; and David and Doris Ponitz of Dayton, OH, who have given $5,000 in honor of United Trustee Tom Lasley.
Just this past week, we received a check for $10,000 from the congregation of Ginghamsburg UMC in Tipp City, OH, given in honor of their pastor Dr. Mike Slaughter, a “Bible-preaching pastor” who received his Doctor of Ministry degree at United and is an adjunct faculty member as well. Dr. Slaughter’s most recent book, The Christian Wallet, gives guidance on spending, giving and living with a Christian conscience.
We thank God for every conscientious gift and commitment that enables our students to fulfill their calling to serve God through Christian ministries in the church and beyond.
St. Paul says each of us should “give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
As of today, $733,000 has been committed to the Second Mile Campaign, which means we are 61% of the way toward our $1.2 million goal. If you can make your commitment before April 15, it will be an encouragement to our Association of Theological Schools team as they give their assessment of our financial situation.
May the Risen Christ fill you full to overflowing with his love, grace and peace at Easter this year.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Kent Millard
United Theological Seminary