“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” 3 Nephi 24:10
Today, we answer the question, “How is tithing money used?”
In recent years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ use of tithing funds has been both criticized and exonerated.
While the majority of church funds come through member-paid tithing, the Church receives some funds through its for-profit arm. These holdings include “Agricultural holdings now operated as for-profit enterprises [which] can be converted into welfare farms in the event of a global food crisis. Companies such as KSL Television and the Deseret News provide strategically valuable communication tools.”
Having funds available through non-tithing sources helps meet Church needs in a number of ways. For instance, General Authorities are paid a living stipend. “This practice allows for far more church members on a worldwide basis to be considered for a calling to serve as a General Authority, rather than limiting considerations to only those who may be financially independent.”
It is important to note that “None of the funds for this living allowance come from the tithing of Church members, but instead from proceeds of the Church’s financial investments.”
Tithing, on the other hand, has finite and specific uses. The Church has listed the ways tithing may be used as the following:
- Constructing and maintaining temples, churches, and other Church-owned buildings
- Operating Church-education programs, including Brigham Young University and other schools in the Church Education System
- Printing scriptures and other materials
- Doing family history research
- Providing welfare and humanitarian efforts
- Doing missionary work
- Providing Church activities for fellowshipping among ward or branch members
That may not seem like a long list, but consider the expenses (initial and ongoing) that are incurred by these endeavors. Temples are extremely expensive to construct, but they are “built using Church funds set aside for that purpose and that the Church pays for the costs without a mortgage or other financing.” They are fully funded before groundbreaking begins—and President Nelson has announced 118 temples since being president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But once construction is complete, tithing funds are still needed to pay for the ongoing maintenance of these buildings. This might include heating and air conditioning, utilities, art and art replacements, office supplies, cleaning supplies, clothing, towels, renovation projects, and so much more. A temple is a massive financial undertaking, but unlike large corporate real estate investments, a temple will always continue to cost money and will never produce money.
Additionally, the Church’s global missionary effort “requires significant financial support from the Church beyond the missionaries’ personal or family contributions.” In addition to food, transportation, printed materials, etc., missions also require “mission homes, apartments, offices and automobiles.” These needs are met through the combination of missionary/family efforts and tithing funds.
The Church donates large sums of money to meet humanitarian needs around the globe. In a single donation, the Church donated $32 million to the World Food Programme to fight hunger.
There have been efforts in the past to discredit the Church’s use of funds, but they have fallen flat. “The Church follows the same sound financial principles it teaches its membership. It avoids debt, lives within its budget and prepares for the future.” The sacred use of tithing funds is carefully guarded to accomplish the work of the Lord on the earth today.
As you head to tithing declaration this year, take heart knowing you are not only building personal faith and conversion as you give your ten percent, but you are also supporting “the greatest cause, and the greatest work on the earth today.”
For more questions regarding the Church’s finances, see the Presiding Bishopric discuss tithing here.
And for a long financial Q&A list, check here.
Leave your answer in the comments below.