offerings down

offerings are down cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

I kid you not: this is a weekly anxiety for many pastors. When you have the building, staff and expenses of all kinds, the amount of weekly offerings is crucial. It can mean life or death. Every every every pastor wants to know what the “take” is every Sunday as soon as it is counted. I’ve heard of some pastors wanting to know via a sign at the back so that if they were lower than needed he could preach up more money. I was at one service where the offering plate was passed around 5 times. I kid you not! And each time because God told them to.

It is a dilemma. If you do have a congregation and a church building and salaries and other expenses, you do need the reliable cash flow. Which turns “give as unto the Lord” a whole new meaning. It gets very very complicated.

Code Red!

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  • AL

    I was in ‘leadership’ at the church I left. We would have the leadership about ‘pray for an increase in giving’ and ‘we are really low on meeting the projected goal for the building fund’. The we would get a sermon about “We are doing fine on money, God doesn’t need your money. But it will bless you the more that you give.” Arghhhh… Boy did you bring back memories!!!

  • In The Methodist Church of Great Britain, the ordained have no idea what any individual is giving. That is a matter for the lay leadership. Yes, we did bring it up in Church Council meetings. Yes, we did pin the gas bill and the electric bill on the bulletin board so folk could see them and so we could, hopefully ,pay our bills. But I can assure you that I never once preached “give more” anything nor did I ever have an assistant holding up collection amounts to wring money out of the elderly congregation.

    it’s certainly naive to think that all preachers are angels. It’s equally cynical think they are all extortion artists.

  • Jake Enns

    Not quite accurate David. I pastored for 10 years as the lead or sole pastor and I never asked how much came in. I never knew how much anybody put in the pot. And we never sent the plate around a second time.
    Still, I don’t doubt that those kinds of pastors exist. I just don’t think it is standard operating procedure as your post seems to suggest.
    Still, code red is right. There is much that many church leaders do in the realm of finances that are very questionable or outright rotten.

  • Beth

    What I think is wrong is for televangelists to lead people to believe that if they give to THEM, God will bless the giver. What kind of racket is that – you give to the TV guy and he buys a BMW and has no accountability to you because the contract is, you give to the TV evangelist and GOD is responsible for your increase. What a racket. Leaves the TV guy completly off the hook if you don’t get anything in return. And these televangelists can drain local churches of subsistence budgets while living high off the backs of the people they con.

    I know very responsible and accountable ministers, but I’ve also been told that a church we were part of may not survive if we didn’t bring in more tithing units – so bring your friends! Tithing units. Gee thanks.

  • Matt

    There is alot of truth in David’s statement. As a pastor myself, I have heard of churches where the elders would pressure the pastor to call up certain members that left their assembly to get them to come back. The pastor agreed but mentioned other names of people who left which the elders didn’t mention. The difference was: the names that were mentioned had money and the ones that weren’t mentioned had little. A sad reality of ministry motives.

  • lol. ya, i suppose “every every every” was a bit of overkill.

  • “It can mean life or death.” But it doesn’t. Lose the buildings, the heat, the staff – it really isn’t life or death.

    I think it’s mostly the evangelical churches where the pastors are money-obsessed. In more mainstream denominations, money obsession is the council’s responsibility, and they can be even better at it. Been to one of those, too.

    Though I new one church, once, that met in homes and mentioned collection only semi-annually, if that. No regular expenses, and just a box, mostly unnoticed, for donations.

    But the pressure to change is high. To be like others. To measure success in a way that you can compare yourself to others. Get a building. Get more staff.

    It’s all a distraction. None of that has anything to do with what we’re called to with our money. Feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, caring for those who are alone. A fancy sanctuary and dedicated staff never did that. I long learned, seeing money wasted on churches, totally unaccountable, that where my donations really belonged was with the charitable organizations doing the ministry most of the church has forgotten – they compete with each other to see how low their overhead can go, to see how much they can deliver straight to those in need. Rather than the church, giving its scraps once the institution’s needs are met.

    But that is where the internet has given us reason to hope. Physically, one can hardly gather a dozen people without overhead and the need for institution, its lure, and all the baggage that comes with it.

    But in cyberspace, the world can gather and connect for free – unrestrained by geography, without the need for morter and plumbing. All over the internet, people are finding their fellow congregants – not by the building they attend, but by their beliefs. And through that unbridled sharing, beliefs are changing – with more exposure to differing views than ever before – which someday will save the faith from the pyramid scheme it’s become. 

    I believe it will liberate us, because that dangerous lure of money and institution can be separated, here, from our hopes, dreams, beliefs, desires and intentions. It’s here we can have that unburdened community, if only we recognize the possibility.

  • Gary

    Ya get what ya pay for.

  • I was a pastor, and I can attest to this. I counted the offering every week with a little anxiety.

  • Lorna sykes

    I’m assuming this is tongue in cheek – having a husband who has been a pastor for the past 30 years this description bears no resemblence to real life in my experience. I’m with Jake Enns on this one – good for a laugh tho!!

  • Tell

    I dunno. Very very very few churches I have bounced around from required, demanded, a tithe, that could be connected with an attendee. If not you wouldn’t be considered a “member in good standing.” I have heard this a hundred or more times.

    To get you in most claim there are no expectations or those demands. Then all of a sudden the truth comes out about the requirements to be a “good” Judeo-Christian, or Christian Zionist.

    Sure they would let you drink coffee and eat doughnuts but unlike those that could give a set amount like ten percent, or more, per week or month were not treated the same. Mere offerings of what could be afforded by some were not treated the same. Those with named accounts, or credit card auto pays, were openly greeted into the membership during a church service and told how much they were loved by them and God. This was across the board of all denominations and various beliefs I tried. Very few really meant that there were no demands to be a “member in good standing” or be part of the accepted church community.

    I’ve also been to some of those TV evangelist churches and other mega churches. All of them were the same to me. They were all about drawing crowds, catering to the ultra wealthy, appearances on several levels like handing out shirts to be worn over ours or our T-shirts since the cameras might show us thus embarrassing the suits, and tuxes, and wealthy. Sitting here I can only count two out of the many churches I’ve tried did not ‘require’ anything. But sadly they were in other states and very far away.

    There always seems to be those… high expectations.

  • Tell

    I forgot to click on my comment notification. Sorry!

  • Indeed, Tell, with money or allegience or otherwise (but often money), we must buy our church communities. Why don’t we just bring back indulgences and buy our salvation as well?

  • Gary

    Is there a new Gary here?

  • Not you above, eh, Gary? There are a few doubles here. Another reason you need a blog of your own – so we can tell you’re you by the link (the first reason being that you’re awesome :)).

  • Thomas Monroe

    Perhaps the “every every every pastor” statement is more for effect or literary license but it is indeed unfair. I do not know what our weekly offerings are nor do I have any idea who gives what. Our 8 year old church has NEVER passed the plate and we have never done a “stewardship” emphasis. We believe that if you teach the Biblical principles of walking in the Spirit, He takes care of the giving. Our church has never had a financial issue either.