Tithing Proposal

May 21, 2013

The Rev. Jim Luther, pastor of First UMC Salinas, and a member of the Tithing Task Force, discusses the Tithe Proposal being brought to the 2013 Annual Conference Session.

Watch the video here (or copy and paste URL into your browser: http://www.ourchurchvideos.com/95691/cnumcv3/play.php?vid=330):


Why recommend the tithe to replace apportionments?

  1. It is a Biblical pattern that can be a model for talking stewardship in our congregations. A church budget can be a model for how individuals can budget personally, with 10% set aside for the church. We hope to create a culture of tithing at all levels of the church.
  2. The simplicity will assist every local church who previously had struggled to understand the various "formulae."
  3. It makes the local congregation the center of the giving structure, building trust for how it is instituted.
  4. Every church will use the same calculation (10% of operating income) rather than a complex structure that can feel unjust even if it’s not.
Why do we need to change the apportionment formula again?
For those who don't appreciate frequent tweaking of the apportionment formula, this is the best solution: a single, simple, endurable principle in sync with Christian traditions for giving.
Will this disproportionately affect smaller, newer, or historically ethnic churches?
Whenever we change the apportionment formula, it seems about a third of the churches have a lower apportionment, a third have about the same apportioned, and a third see an increase. This is true also for the tithe. The tithe proposal is based on operating income whereas the current formula is based on operating expenses. In theory, there shouldn't be a great difference. In reality, however, a few churches do show a significant difference between their operating income and operating expense. This could be a reporting error, but it could be the reality for some churches.
How will this affect the conference's budget?
The tithe proposal will create a cap on the total apportionment: 10% of total church operating income. The Council on Finance and Administration has already been capping the budget proposals at that figure in recent years, but this would codify it.
How would the tithe be calculated?
Every United Methodist church fills out year-end reports each January. One of these reports, "Table 3" is where churches report the income for the previous calendar year. The tithe will be based on line 67 of this report, "total income for annual budget/spending plan." The instructions for the report specifically exclude from line 67 all grant income and income "designated for specific benevolent/charitable causes and forwarded by the local church."
What about income toward building projects, rental income, and rental income from church-owned parsonages used to pay a pastor's housing allowance?
Line 67 does not include income for capital campaigns, memorials, endowments, bequests, Special Sundays, and Advance Specials. Line 67 does include any income allocated to the church budget including rental income if it is used for church operating expenses like the pastor's housing allowance.