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Dancing with the Devil?

I was told some time ago that parishioners do not tithe because they are “dancing with the devil”. Upon hearing this, I was intrigued by two things: 1) the devil is a dancer, and 2) the connection between a relationship with the devil and one’s tithing to the church.

This person suggested that if one does not tithe it is because of a proactive relationship with satan. My first thought was what if the person just doesn’t have any money.

And then I had another thought: the reason that some congregants do not give ten percent (the “tithe”) to the church is because of disintermediation. Yep, when I was a pup at Kalamazoo College in the 70’s, Dr. Fred Strobel introduced me to the concept of disintermediation in a macroeconomics course. Back in the day, financial disintermediation was used to describe the behavior of investors who no longer put their money in savings accounts at the local bank. Rather, they invested directly with corporate or government borrowers, bypassing the middleman bank. So, the bank intermediary was “dissed”. Hence, disintermediation (just kidding).

More recently, we have witnessed disintermediation in the retail sector for which the typical supply chain (supplier to manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to customer) is collapsed when the customer purchases directly from the manufacturer. Think of buying a computer online directly from Dell.

So, I posit, without reference to motivation, that parishioners bypass the church intermediary to achieve, for example, social welfare objectives. This, in part, explains the gap between the suggested tithe (10%) and the actual tithe (2%). For example, a church member in Kalamazoo, Michigan might donate directly to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission to satisfy their desire to impact efficiently and effectively poverty and basic life needs in this community. This parishioner might allocate 2% of his or her income to this cause, thereby leaving 8% for the church.

The internet has certainly made donations directly to para-church ministries much easier and more efficient, and the implications to church budgeting is worthy of further discussion. By the way, I am seeing a few churches reintermediate. Stay tuned.

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