Ten Percent: A Story of Tithing

By Beth Gray


Hear that? It’s the theme from Twilight Zone.

You just awoke in your bed in your house with your family, but something feels strange.  Since you get out of bed wide awake and ready to face the world, you start coffee for your spouse and walk outside for a quick morning jog around the block.  Uh …. What is this?!?!  It is not your neighborhood!  You rub your eyes to wake yourself.  This must be a dream.  You walk back inside to verify and yes, this is your home.  Yes, your spouse is snoozing in your bed and your children are snuggled into their beds. No rush to wake them, this is a long holiday weekend. You shake your head in wonder and stroll back outside.  This. This! THIS is not right!

Instead of a morning jog, you take a slow stroll down unfamiliar streets and stare at an occasional familiar house but most do not belong here, wherever here is.  And just a block away is a factory.  What happened to zoning and the exclusive neighborhood with only seventy-five homes?  You meet a few other early risers who are just as bewildered as you. You’re an organized, social creature so you invite them all to your place in a couple hours.

By twilight, you and your neighbors have ascertained that your homes are exactly as they were when you went to bed.  The factory has supplies and instructions to start production Monday morning, with several orders due out this week.  The has-almost-everything general store is across town from the factory. Undecided if you have landed in a utopia or purgatory, most of you decide to make the best of the situation.  Besides, you’re all going to wake up in the morning and not be here, wherever here is.

But you are all here in the morning – all fifteen families, some multigenerational. Thirty-eight adults and sixty-five people eighteen and younger.  Over the next few days you, mostly peacefully, sort out who will work in the factory and who will run the store and who is the “mayor” of your new “town” – that’s you of course.

A few weeks later most of the group has settled into a routine.  Supplies are delivered to the general store, shipments are made from the factory, and payment received in a timely manner so that workers are paid. The money flow is sufficient.

Several families are missing church services and folks are generally needing spiritual guidance.  As the mayor in this utopian/purgatory town, you have a lot of authority concerning who gets paid how much.  A couple has demonstrated an ability and willingness to lead a church, but how will they be paid?  For each visit to a family?  An admission fee to services?  You ask your trusty local accountant to recommend a fair method of payment.  Three weeks later, after much number crunching, the recommendation is before you.  If each family will donate ten percent of their income, the pastor-family will live with about the same amount of comfort as everyone else and can devote themselves fulltime to ministry.

You call a town meeting the next evening and announce, “Starting Monday, we will have a full-time ministry family.  No one in their household will be required to work in the factory.  They will bring valuable services to our community.  Each family will donate ten percent of your income to support them.”  The crowd cheered and immediately began to hand over their first offerings. In the back of the crowd, an old codger was heard mumbling, “I could have saved that young whipper-snapper three weeks of work.  That idea is old!” 

His friend added, “But it works.”  They chuckled quietly as they, too, gave their offerings.

Not everyone in the new town lived happily ever after, but each family gave of their income, sustaining the ministering family which in turn greatly blessed the community.

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