A recent Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class attendee asked me if Dave recommends suspending tithing. Here is my response.
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class is concluded with the final lesson “The Great Misunderstanding.” In this lesson he highlights the importance of giving and faith. However, it seems as if some people interpret Dave as advocating delaying giving. In fact he even teaches the following 7 Baby Steps:
- Save $1,000 emergency fund
- Eliminate non-mortgage debt
- Save 3 – 6 months income for emergencies
- Invest 15% income
- Fund college
- Pay off home early
- Build wealth & give
It is not surprising that some people think they need to get out of debt and save a lot of money before giving or tithing; in fact some churches that host the class experience a reduction in giving by people that attend. In actuality though, Dave doesn’t teach this. He advocates giving and saving as part of one’s budget from the beginning and not waiting until after accomplishing a particular baby step. The previous version of the course doesn’t perhaps convey this message loud enough, but the newest release of the material for Fall 2012 classes does a better job of making sure that people who take the course understand that they are not to stop giving.
Most churches teach tithing as a principle, not so much as law, but as an act of faith and worship. I posted an article about it at this blog site recently. Whether people choose to tithe is a matter of their own interpretation of scripture, conscience and faith. If people believe in tithing the full 10%, but they are going through financial difficulty, they may wonder if it makes sense for them to do so in light of what they are learning. I feel this depends upon various factors such as the severity of debt, their faith, counsel from wise counselors and prayer. However at the end of the day, I think it is a great idea to always give something, and a regular amount. Doing so helps us walk in faith through difficulty and it is always good to be a blessing to others. It helps us turn the focus away from our own temporary bad predicament, amongst other things. The cool part about Dave’s emphasis on giving while we are doing well and accumulating wealth is that we are in a position to give well above the traditional tithe amount.