Following are answers to most-asked questions. If you don't find the information you need here, check into our full doctrine. If you need further answers, please CONTACT US.
1) What do you believe about tithing? Is it legalistic?
In the Old Testament, God's people were required to give a tithe (10%) to the Lord from the first fruits of their increase. This standard, neither enforced nor dismissed in New Testament teaching, remains as a suitable benchmark for believers today.
Whatever the amount we determine in our hearts to give (and give cheerfully), we would do well to practice the discipline and worship of regular giving.
Everything we have comes from God, even the talents, abilities and strength we utilize to gain what we work for. It is all from Him, through Him and to Him. Tithing and giving to the Lord are signs of our faith and trust in God, and He will use our faithful, generous hearts to bless us and others.
In understanding Malachi chapter 3 and its relevance today, there are two important things to note:
A) Jesus became cursed for us to release us from the curse that was upon us for disobeying the law, and to allow us access to God's favor by faith. Do we tithe, then, as an insurance policy against God's wrath or in order to gain His favor? May it never be! Instead, I believe the lesson we need to learn through tithing and giving is that those who fearfully cling to what they have, usually lose it.
B) God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, and His promise to open the windows of heaven on those who invest in His storehouse still remains! Does that mean that we give to get? No way. We tithe as an act of worship, obedience and trust. We give because He first gave to us. Greed and selfishness are not our motive. How wonderful that God in His infinite love towards us outdoes us yet again by rewarding our worship! He rewards us with the spiritual law of sowing and reaping: with the measure you give, it will be measured back to you. This principle is true of our time, love and resources.
Regarding legalism: new covenant Christians can and should live out God's moral and spiritual direction given in the Old Testament. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount that we should do it with a new heart and a greater passion, not as rules to be kept, but as directions from God's heart to ours. Of course you can make God's direction to tithe something that you do legalistically, just as you could make attending church or reading the Bible rules that you keep rather than a lifestyle God directs.
We don't know all of the reasons why God gave us the direction to give 10% so often in the Bible, but we do know that this is a number that is high enough to be a real faith challenge. It's hard to imagine God asking us to give in a way that would not be a challenge and a sacrifice. If we're really worried about 10% being a legalistic requirement, we can just give 20% or 30% and then we'll have erased that concern!
"Just as you excel in everything else... in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness... see that you also excel in the grace of giving." 2 Corinthians 8:7
2) Is tithing between you and the Lord, or you and the church?
The short answer to your question about tithing is this: it's between you and the Lord Jesus. God does direct people in different ways about their giving. Nothing we say should take away the freshness of you talking to the Lord and responding to His loving direction in your life.
With that understood, there are some guidelines in the Bible. We believe that the Bible is very clear about believers giving 10% to the Lord...it is not as clear as to exactly where that 10% should go. One reason is that there was only one place to give in New Testament times...the church. All mission work, benevolence, etc. came through the church. There are a number of reasons that we recommend giving a tithe to the church where you regularly fellowship, and then giving to others above that tithe. Most importantly, it is because we are convinced that the church is God's #1 method for reaching a lost world and growing believers. That local body of believers where we fellowship and minister together is where God is changing the world. Bringing our tithe to our local church enables us as a body not only to maintain our house of worship, but also to meet the spiritual and material needs that arise within our church family and in our community.
3) How do you see and practice communion (the eucharist)?
Communion is a unique time in the presence of God when the elements of bread and grape juice (the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ) are taken in remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12, 36-38; 10:47,48; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:23-26)
We celebrate Holy Communion and believe it is one of the two ordinances Christ gave the church. (Water baptism would be the other). Our identification with Him, as we receive the elements representing His sacrificial love, is a significant and healing time together.