Last Sunday we had our third Membership Meeting as we prepare for our Annual General Meeting. We covered many topics including have a personal relationship with Jesus, how to deal with conflict, how to leave a church and finances. On the topics of giving one gentleman raised a question that many people wonder about but never ask, “Does the Pastoral Staff know how much each person gives?”
The answer was “no” and I think the majority of Pastors would have answered the same way. There are many reasons why Pastors shy away from knowing what each member gives but let me give you 2 of the big ones.
2 Reason Why Pastors Should Not Know What A Person Gives
1) Money is a personal issue
I remember listening to a Bishop one time and he said, “When you open yourself up to people you open yourself up to their madness.” and after almost 25 years of ministry I can say “amen” to that one. 🙂 In general, people will share with you their deepest secrets but if you asked them how much they made they would be insulted. For many people when it comes to giving their attitude is “What I give is between me and the Lord and that’s it.”
2) Knowing what a person gives may cause favoritism by the Pastor.
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)
This is a legitimate concern but the ground is level at the foot of the cross and we all deserve the same treatment whether we give or not. Can you imagine? “This morning we are introducing a new church policy, all hospital visits will be based on giving. If you tithe and have a heart attack we guarantee to be there for prayer within an hour. If you don’t tithe we will get to you once we finish our sandwich. The choice is up to you!!!” While it may not be actually stated my guess is there are many pastors who by their example live this everyday.
What Should a Pastor Know About People’s Giving?
As I was thinking and reading for this post I came across an article by Brian Kluth in which he says the right question to ask when it comes to the financial contributions of a member is, “What should a Pastor know about people’s giving?” He states 6 items that I agree with wholeheartedly.
1) When someone starts giving regularly.
This is a great opportunity to send a note of encouragement saying we are glad you are partnering with us financially. I remember doing this and the next week the person came up and said of all her years in church she had never received such a note. She was so impressed she even told her dad about it.
2) When someone stops or significantly decreases this giving.
A change in giving my indicate job loss, or a backing away of ministry and at times it indicates that the person is upset with the Pastor or the church. “I’m withholding my tithe until things change around here.”
3) When someone gives a gift for a special purpose.
We acknowledge when people go above and beyond in volunteering why not recognize those that do so financially. Once again a quick note can be a great encouragement.
4) When someone is being considered for a top leadership position.
My experience has been that some of those who cause the greatest noise are the ones who give little or nothing financially to the church. To me it’s simple if you are not a financial giver to the church you forfeit your ability to lead.
5) When someone has shown the capacity to give generously.
As believers, we all have at least one Spiritual Gift and those with the gift of giving should be encouraged just as we would someone with the gift of teaching.
6) What are the giving patterns and levels in your congregation. (Amounts not names.)
We have gone through this exercise and are continuing to crunch numbers. What we have found is that like most churches the financial load of the church is carried by fewer people than is healthy. That is why we are in a 12 month plan to educate, encourage and challenge our people when it comes to overall finances in their lives.
After reading the above suggestions you may still be nervous but remember all of these can be carried out without needing to know actual financial details.
The whole issue of money is a difficult one at best. However, as a leader we have the responsibility to first lead ourselves financially and then lead our people in Biblical generosity. If we don’t lead them who will?
Why not take the first step and talk with your leadership team about Brain Kluth’s article and then go from there? Seeing rocky waters doesn’t mean the boat is headed in the wrong direction.