There’s an important episode in the ministry of Jesus that should change the way we think about money, especially in these changing times when the definition of money seems to be evolving.
Most churches accept cash, checks, credit cards, even real estate, stocks, bonds, and other assets. So what about cryptocurrency like Bitcoin?
It’s beginning to catch on, but if you’re a pastor or church leader and you’re still unsure if you should take the steps necessary to allow your church community to donate bitcoin, here’s something to think about.
The Gospels record an incident in which the Pharisees and Herodians—groups normally at odds with one another—came together to challenge Jesus. They wanted to trap Him. They asked Him a simple but diabolical question: “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” (Mark 12:14–15).
On the surface, this seems like a pretty bland question, hardly controversial. Taxes are the law—unavoidable like death and, well, taxes. But the issue of Roman taxation was an explosive issue in Jesus’ day.
Some Jewish people believed that paying taxes to Rome was essentially the same thing as pledging their allegiance to the empire—or at least conceding the Roman’s right to rule. They believed God was the true King over Israel and that their specially chosen nation ought to be free. If Jesus said that people should pay the tax, then the crowds, who hated Rome, might turn against Him.
On the other hand, if Jesus said that the people should evade the taxman, His statements would be heard as treasonous, and the Jewish authorities would have a reason to turn Jesus over to Rome for acts of sedition.
There seemed to be no good way for Jesus to get out of this thorny situation. Except He’s God Incarnate; He can’t be so easily trapped. Jesus asked to see a denarius, the Roman coin used for the tax. Then He asked, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” (v. 16).
Well, it was Caesar’s image, of course. Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (v. 17).
Give to God what is God’s
Jesus took a heated issue and made it rather silly: “Oh, Caesar wants these little coins with his face on them? Okay. Go ahead and give them to him. While you’re at it, give to God whatever has His image stamped on it.”
This is the important part. Every faithful Jew in earshot of Jesus would know exactly what He was talking about. When God made human beings, He made us “in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). You and I have been stamped with God’s likeness. We belong to Him.
Jesus was saying that what we give to God is more important than taxes or earthly power, and God won’t settle for anything less than our whole selves. He wants all of us—our time, our talents, our loyalty, our love, and yes, our money.
So what does this have to do with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? The issue when it comes to giving should never be about the currency we choose, but the heart behind our donations. For that reason, churches should be ready and waiting to accept whatever God puts on someone’s heart to give—whether that’s traditional cash, an old-fashioned check, or a whole lot of digital currency.
A bit about Bitcoin
In many ways, Bitcoin is no different than other currencies. It holds value, can be bought and sold, or used as an investment. What makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies special, however, is how it’s used in the real world. In order to own cryptocurrencies, a person must have a digital wallet. Coinbase is the most popular option, but there are others to choose from.
Spending Bitcoin takes an extra step as well. Cryptocurrencies can be sold and exchanged for standard currencies and then simply spent. But increasingly, many merchants and non-profits have begun accepting crypto payments directly.
Tithe.ly recently announced a new strategic partnership with Engiven that will allow churches and organizations to accept Bitcoin and 22 other cryptocurrencies directly. If you’re an existing Tithe.ly customer, here’s all you need to do:
- Head over to https://tithely.engiven.com and sign up. To do so, you’ll need to create an account with Engiven.
- Next, you’ll get a button to add to your church’s website, right next to your Tithe.ly donate button.
- Voila! With that button in place, anyone visiting your church’s website can donate Bitcoin or 21 other cryptocurrency options.
A few things to keep in mind…
First, cryptocurrency donations won’t be included in your Tithe.ly account. Instead, you’ll be able to track and manage them in your new Engiven account.
Second, as a church or non-profit, you’ll probably want to convert any Bitcoin donations you receive into standard currency as soon as you receive them. That way, they won’t be subject to the ups and downs of the cryptocurrency market.
Over to you
God is concerned about our giving, but He’s much more concerned about the heart behind our financial decisions. Is your church on board with cryptocurrencies yet? Let us know if we can help!