As this parody would indicate, I’m not a huge fan of Church Marketing Sucks and the slogan of their “parent organization” makes me crazy. “Dedicated to helping the church matter” provokes an unprintable response on my part. To borrow from Campolo and McLaren, I think CMS is engaged in an Adventure of Missing the Point – offering a hypermodern marketing response to a post-modern world sick of marketing.
That being said, I do scan their blog posts in Google Reader and this one is too much for me not to respond.
Multi-site, single Pastor, Life Church is offering a money-backed guarantee on tithing.
The word “tithe” is derived from the Hebrew word ma’aser and it literally means a tenth. Ten percent of everything belongs to the Lord. In Malachi 3:10-11, God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house.” The ‘storehouse’ is the Old Testament picture of the New Testament church. So as New Testament believers, we worship the Lord with the tithe; or the ten percent.
But giving away 10% of your income can be a big – and often frightening – commitment! That’s why we created the Three-Month Tithing Challenge: a money-back guarantee of sorts. Essentially, it’s a contract based on the promises of God in Malachi 3:10-11. We commit to you that if you tithe for three months and God doesn’t hold true to His promises of blessings, we will refund 100% of your tithe. No questions asked.
My first response is, “you’re joking, right!?” But they’re not. As seems typical of this type of church, they are caught up in the Tithe Myth. Their exegesis of Malachi is simply wrong. Malachi is speaking to the priests who have been robbing God. (Read the book in context, people.) Tithing is not a New Testament requirement/doctrine/law. (Read this site for a better explanation than I can provide here – and you might find this discussion interesting.) The New Testament states that all of who we are and what we have belongs to God – this ten percent nonsense is just that, nonsense. (Tithe-Myth Pastors will often add to their tithe-demanding teaching with the hundred-fold blessing myth, doing a strange exegesis of Mark 10:29-31 – whilst ignoring Jesus promising persecutions in this passage – and ignoring the reality that Jesus is talking about the growth of the church.)
This gross misunderstanding of tithing reminds me of Johann Tetzel’s selling of indulgences – his actions viewed as one of the sparks that lit the 95 Thesis fire under Martin Luther. Craig Groeschel and his ilk are selling a lie to North Americans who are already blessed beyond our wildest dreams. They are marketing their kingdoms with biblical “proof-texts” that promise more, more, more – if only we give to their church. (It’s interesting that Groeschel’s undergrad is in marketing.) And their now offering money-back guarantees! Give Me a Break!