Thursday, February 23, 2006

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

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I've had this idea kicking around in my head since I preached a message on stewardship with regard to time. Recently, I was encouraged to put it down "on paper" somewhere.

We're all well acquainted with tithing, which for simplicity's sake I'll define as the biblical obligation to give back 10% of your financial income to God via the local church. (I realize that not everybody agrees with all facets of this definition, but let it ride for the moment because this is not a blog entry about financial tithing.)

Now, what about tithing of one's time?

There are 168 hours in the week, a tithe (i.e., tenth) of which would be 16.8.

However, if we allow for sleep time to come right off the top (parallel to a net vs. gross tither, although I'm a gross proponent), then that number would become less. What's a reasonable amount of sleep time? Surely no one would argue they want/need more than 8 hours per night. Amen?

Well that would 56 hours from the 168 which would be 112, a tithe of which would be 11.2.

In other words, for simplicity's sake, a Christian tithing of his/her time would set aside about 11 hours per week for the local church.

Now, what might qualify? Certainly attendance at gatherings where one's presence is needed would (Heb 10:24-25). So, let's say a person was joined the saints at 0930 for donuts & fellowship through about 1230 when it's all said and done. That's 3 hours. Coming back for Sunday night would be another 1.5 hours. If you allow drive time to count, then you're adding some, obviously.

However, it would seem to me that a Christian would/should give more time to the church than that ... even just to meet such a minimum requirement. This could be in the form of preparation if one is a teacher, or even in a class where preparation is expected. This is where involvement in a discipleship program or some ministry of the church helps (e.g., giving a few hours per month to be a part of a church custodial program). What about time spent in accountability and/or fellowship with other church members? Surely that benefits the body. What about time spent during the week specifically praying for the church, its ministries and people in it?

I said all that to say this, these are just thoughts running through my mind. However, just as the question is often asked about what a local church would be able to do ministry-wise if God's people tithed, we might ask just how much a local church would be able to do ministry-wise if God's people tithed of their time as well (i.e., not in lieu of finances).

I realize that God doesn't need our money or our time or us, but those are the vehicles He's chosen to use to accomplish His work in His way for His glory.


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