I know that the Mormon church requires members to tithe regularly. Otherwise, their membership may be restricted, until they tithe. My question is, do members have to tithe in money? Are they allowed to tithe in food items? Maybe a Mormon has a garden of orange trees in his or her backyard, and decides to tithe 10% of the yield to the church. Would the church put a minimum requirement on the quality of the oranges, or is the mere existence of the orange sufficient? Maybe a Mormon is very good at cooking and prepares a wonderful dish of casserole for the church. Are prepared foods allowed? Can they serve as a replacement for tithing in money?
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As in the Bible, tithes in the LDS Church were once commonly paid in-kind, that is in livestock, crops, land, etc.
Nowadays, tithing is usually paid with money because (1) that is what most people earn (2) it is easiest to account for and (3) financial contributions are easiest to process/use. (You can't build a church out of oranges.)
That said, the LDS church does accept donations in kind.
LDS Church Donations-in-Kind Office
Most often, though, these these will be stocks, bonds, or real estate.
If someone wants to make a local donation (e.g. oranges):
As far as quality/quantity, it's the same as in the Bible: give God the best of what you have.
Also, it's worth mentioning that the LDS Church has very little to say about the details of tithing (before or after taxes, personal business, etc), other than it is "10% of increase/income." No further statement or clarification has been made.
Today, it is generally and officially declared that tithing is ten percent of one's income, and has nothing to do with one's current posessions. In particular, this means that as long as your income is an amount of money, your tithing will also be an amount of money. I believe this is universal at least in the US (where you pay tithing by filling out a slip, and the slip allows only cash or check). The doctrine is of course open for interpretation, and it is possible the situation is different in poorer countries.
Historically and I believe biblically, tithing was much more based on property. In 1837 (1) tithing was 2 percent of your net worth, including property, and the Law of consecration was a more extreme, almost communistic law (which didn't work out too well) requiring members to give all their money and property, and have returned to them what they needed (2). The Law of consecration was discontinued but is still considered the highest law; in other words, if the membership of the church was perfect, they would follow the law of consecration.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I am also a bee-keeper.
Each fall, I harvest honey from my hives. I extract the honey from the comb, filter it, and bottle it (in 60lb pales, 5lb jugs, and 12oz honey bears).
I then sell the honey. From the money I collect from the sales, I pay ten percent to the Bishop.
A few years ago, I had a 'bumper-crop'. I produced way more honey that I had time to sell. I ended up giving away lots of honey to family & friends.
I thought and prayed about the most appropriate way to pay tithing on all this honey. For example, I considered just using the market value of wholesale honey, and paying tithe on that.
However, the answer to my prayers was to take a different route.
The LDS Church operates a massive welfare operation. Food, clothing, and may other essentials for life, are prepared all over the world. Members are periodically asked to volunteer in these Welfare Centers to perform various activities, such as canning peaches, applesauce, meat products, etc. When I was a teen, I often volunteered to help harvest honey as part of the Church welfare program.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints blesses the lives of both LDS members and non-members alike. Bishops throughout the world may draw upon the assets of the Church Welfare program to help those who are unable to provide for themselves.
My mother and father divorced when I was very young. My mother took the children (myself and three siblings) back to live with her parents. My mother got a job in an IC chip manufacturing plant, inspecting circuit boards. From this, she was able to rent a home across the street from my grandparents. Although she was doing everything she could to support her small family, she was not able to make ends meet. My grandparents helped where they could, but it was not quite enough ether. My mother presented her problem to the Bishop, who arranged for her to go to The Bishop's Storehouse (the providing side of the Church Welfare program) to obtain additional food and household items as needed. Eventually, my mother got a raise, and no longer needed the supplemental help from the Bishop.
I have since seen how this program has blessed many in need. I spoke to my bishop about my honey situation. The result was a donation of several hundred honey bears to the local Bishop's Storehouse.
Of course, honey bears have a great shelf-life; and are easy to distribute in appropriate quantities. If I had (instead) donated 60lb pales of honey, that would have been very difficult for the Bishop's Storehouse to dole out. Likewise, it would probably be inappropriate for a a dairy farmer and wanted to donate a large quantity of milk; given its perishable nature. Nevertheless, there are Church Welfare operations that deal with milk products; and I wouldn't be surprised to discover that dairy farmers have made donations of milk to such operations.
Generally, the Church Welfare program goes about blessing lives without fan-fair or publicity. It is a sacred work to help the needy.
All my donations to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are paid directly to my Bishop. The Church accepts many types of donations, including:
The Bishop sends this money to the Church where it is allocated by the General Bishopric of the Church for such things as chapel and temple construction and maintenance.
This donation becomes part of the Church Welfare program. The Bishop can allocate these funds locally as needed. Some is also sent on to Church headquarters to help others around the world.
To come clean, my honey donation was not classified as Tithing. Rather, it fell under the category of Fast Offering.
I continue to experience the Lord's promise to open the windows of heaven. I have no doubt that these blessings are connected to paying tithes and other offerings. The Lord continues to bless me, and my family, with far more than I have room to receive.
And for the curious... While all my donations are paid to my Bishop, he does not allocate any of these funds to himself. He has an occupation which supports himself and his family. This is true of all Bishops in the Church. All service in the Church is voluntary (without pay).
God the Father is truly Our Father in Heaven. We are his children, and he loves us unconditionally. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer; and the only way given to Eternal Life and Exaltation. He lives!