“Yes; the Levites are a good example.”
I think this is a personal conviction, as the Jesus did not give any specifics about it other than we are all to be generous. I would say yes, missionaries should tithe, if one considers “missionary” to be his/her occupation. During the ten years we lived in East Asia (and even now as we continue on in missions), we tithed on the regular support that we received. And there were many times the Lord even led us to give a whole lot more than just a tithe.
I think the Levites are a good example of this in the Bible. They received the tithe from the whole of Israel and then were commanded to tithe on their tithe. Most importantly, God is looking at the heart. Tithing is a way to show that we depend on him and are willing to give.
Answer from Brooke who has been involved in missions since 2003 and served in East Asia, Cambodia, and Australia with YWAM and CMM.
“In my experience, yes.”
Some who go short-term do not get a salary and may not have more than just what they need to cover daily expenses. Just as they might not be putting money in retirement during that period, they might not be tithing as they would otherwise. But if you are serving in ministry long-term, you’re going to need a salary and some discretionary funds, and how you handle those funds is not so different than what other people do.
Just because you depend on the giving of others doesn’t excuse you from the opportunity (or, some would say, obligation) of giving to support the work of the Lord, even if what you are able to give is less than it might be if you were in some other line of work.
From the conversations I’ve had with with others workers, I believe most missionaries, like pastors and other Christian workers, DO tithe and/or give offerings both to the churches they are part of (whether “back home” or on the field) and to support other ministries as they are able, e.g., local work or other missionaries.
If you sit down with someone in a mission agency’s HR department to talk about setting up a budget, chances are they will encourage you to consider what you want to budget for tithes and offerings. This also shows up in online sample budgets for missionaries.
Just as waiters and waitresses are likely to be good tippers, missionaries may be more likely to give… they are aware of how much it costs to support Christian work and workers and what life is like when the money does not come in. Missionaries may also be more aware of needs and giving opportunities to give than others might be.
Legally, keep in mind that the money that is given to support a missionary generally belongs to the sending organization… and out of those funds they cover ministry expenses, taxes and benefits, and provide a salary.
A missionary would not have the right to give directly from the organizational funds to give tithes and offerings to another ministry; those funds belong to the organization to which the donors gave them and can usually only be used to support work connected to that organization (e.g., you can raise more than you need and transfer it to help support a co-worker or project). If they give “tithes and offerings,” it will be from their salary.
Answer from Marti, who has served as a mission mobilizer since 1995, including more than ten years with Pioneers.
“All resources belong to the Lord.”
Yes, missionaries should be tithing. It’s their income, and the Lord asks of his people to give tithes and offerings. It doesn’t matter what the source of our resources are, the Lord asks for our first fruits. That means that our top budget line should be “tithe.”
Answer from Carol in Cyprus, who has served with Trans World Radio for more than 30 years.