Lesson 18: Lorenzo Snow: Financing God’s Kingdom

"Lesson 18: Lorenzo Snow: Financing God’s Kingdom," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Objective

Class members will desire to serve their fellowman by contributing financially to build up the kingdom of God on earth.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    See that each class member has a copy of the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.

  2. 2.

    Display the pictures of Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and Heber J. Grant in the color section.

  3. 3.

    If it is available, prepare to show The Windows of Heaven on the videocassette Moments in Church History (53145).

  4. 4.

    Photocopy or hand copy the prophets’ statements on tithing and assign four class members in advance to read them.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Example

Introduce The Windows of Heaven by telling the following:

President Snow had earlier devoted much time to financial matters in the Church and was very well qualified to handle them. When he became President of the Church in 1898, the greatest burden resting upon the Saints was the problem of financing the Church. The people were not paying their tithing as they should. “Years of persecution, unjust legislation by critics and enemies, expensive [court costs] had caused such severe financial pressures that the Church was facing financial bankruptcy. Turning to the Lord in prayer, President Snow was told to make a trip to St. George, visiting the principal settlements on the return trip. [The trip was made in 1899; St. George is three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City.] Though the purpose of the visit was not clear in light of the plea for assistance in the financial crisis, Lorenzo and selected brethren left for the southern Utah settlement” (Heidi S. Swinton, “Lorenzo Snow,” in Leonard J. Arrington, ed., The Presidents of the Church [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], p. 174).

Videocassette and reading

Show the videocassette, part 6, The Windows of Heaven. If it is not available, read the following:

At St. George, President Snow received a marvelous revelation. He was told that if the Saints would live the existing law of tithing, the Church as a whole and the Saints individually would be blessed and their financial problems would be less. Said President Snow:

“The time has now come for every Latter-day Saint, who calculates to be prepared for the future and to hold his feet strong upon a proper foundation, to do the will of the Lord and to pay his tithing in full. That is the word of the Lord to you, and it will be the word of the Lord to every settlement throughout the land of Zion. After I leave you [the people in St. George] and you get to thinking about this, you will see yourselves that the time has come when every man should stand up and pay his tithing in full. The Lord has blessed us and has had mercy upon us in the past; but there are times coming when the Lord requires us to stand up and do that which He has commanded and not leave it any longer. What I say to you in this stake of Zion I will say to every stake of Zion that has been organized. There is no man or woman that now hears what I am saying who will feel satisfied if he or she fails to pay a full tithing (18 May 1899, MS, 61:533.)” (Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Clyde J. Williams, comp. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984], p. 155).

President Snow then promised the Saints in St. George that the Lord would send them rain. They had been suffering from a terrible drought.

Discussion

  • What existing principle did the Lord stress to President Snow to solve the financial problems of the Church? (Tithing; it should be strictly observed.)

  • What did President Snow promise the Saints in St. George if they would pay an honest tithe? (They would receive rain.)

The Scriptures and the Latter-day Prophets Teach Us about the Importance of Tithing

Scripture discussion

Have the class read and mark Doctrine and Covenants 119:4.

In this scripture the Lord declared a tithe to be “one-tenth of all their interest annually”: interest is understood to mean income.

Quotations and pictures

Have the assigned class members read the following statements. If you wish, display a picture of each of the prophets as their statement is read.

Discussion and chalkboard

List on the chalkboard some things that these Presidents of the Church have told us about the law of tithing. (Tithing is for our exaltation; it is for spiritual blessings, not just financial blessings; paying part of a tithing is not obeying the law of the tithe; the law of tithing is a test; those who pay tithing are able to use their money more wisely than those who do not.)

How Are Church Contributions Used?

Contributions to the Church are and have been used in many of the following ways to build up the kingdom of God:

Chalkboard and discussion

Draw the following diagram on the chalkboard before class time:

Financing God’s Kingdom

Answers added after discussion

From tithing

Other offerings

Use the diagram to explain the following:

Tithing is the major contribution we make to the Church. It pays for the overall operations of the Church, such as buildings (meetinghouses and temples), missionary programs, educational facilities and programs (colleges and seminaries), family history expenses, and administrative costs (development of this manual, for instance). However, tithing is not the only Church contribution made by members.

Discussion

  • What are some of the other contributions you and your family make to the Church? (List answers, which will vary, on the individual lines of the diagram. The answers should include fast offering and missionary fund. See above diagram.) Emphasize that labor and donations in kind are as valuable as cash contributions.

In addition to the blessings from giving, we enjoy the services, facilities, and opportunities that these contributions make available to each of us as members of God’s kingdom.

Heavenly Father Blesses Those Who Give to Build the Kingdom

Experience and discussion

Scriptures and chalkboard

On the chalkboard, write the scripture reference Malachi 3:10 and then write Doctrine and Covenants 82:10. Have one of the class members read them aloud.

Discussion

Elder Abrea expected the Lord to bless Jose if he kept the law of tithing.

  • Has the Lord ever given us such a promise? (Yes, he will pour out blessings on those who pay their tithing.)

Testimony and Challenge

Complete the lesson by bearing your testimony that the Lord keeps his promises. If we keep the commandment of tithing, we shall be blessed. Encourage the class members to share personal experiences regarding the blessings and joys received from having paid tithing and other obligations. Challenge the class to contribute to the building of the kingdom of God.