The Tithing Challenge

Why one church offers its members a money-back guarantee.

Testing God is usually discouraged by pastors and churches. After all, there are pretty good reasons for avoiding the practice. In Matthew 4:7 Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy: "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" In the book of Acts, after discovering some questionable donations, the apostle Peter asks a woman named Sapphira, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?" The consequences of her actions were not pleasant.

But, a multi-site, media-intensive church out of Oklahoma City, encourages testing God. They not only advocate such testing, they back it up with an unorthodox guarantee.

Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel refers his congregation to Malachi 3:10, where God challenges His people to bring a tithe—ten percent of their income—to Him. "Test me in this," He tells Israel.

"It's the only place in all of Scripture where we are given permission to test God," says Groeschel. "If you want to test Him, we'll give you the chance." calls it the "Three-Month Tithing Challenge." Participants commit, via the Internet, to tithe to the church for three months. If at the end of the challenge participants are not convinced of God's faithfulness, they can get a full refund of all they have given. According to Groeschel, "If something didn't work out for you, you contact the church, we'll cut you a check for every penny you gave."

Pastor Groeschel initiated the tithe challenge 11 years ago. He is careful to tell his congregations, "I don't ever want anyone to hear the message that you give to get, because that's not why we give. But the bottom line is when you are faithful to God, He blesses you in ways that maybe are financial, or that are much more important than your finances."

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