Should Pastors Know about Giving in the Church?

Should Pastors Know about Giving in the Church? August 4, 2017

Screen Shot 2016-10-15 at 9.10.12 AMBy John Frye

People’s Giving: Should Pastors Know?

[For a solid academic book on what Paul taught about money and charity, see Bruce Longenecker, Remember the Poor.]

I’ve heard it and you’ve heard it: Jesus talked more about money than he talked about heaven and hell combined. The Bible repeatedly addresses money issues. With all that, a good friend known for informed conversation, told me that less than 1% of USAmerican pastors preach about money. Yes, I did my two sermons a year on giving. I cranked out the hackneyed stewardship sermons about the “3 Ts” —time, talent, and treasure. I muddled on about tithing as a baseline amount and that Paul called for proportional giving (1 Corinthians 16:2) and, yes, for generous, hilarious giving (2 Corinthians 9:7). While pastors may say to the congregation—“If you’re not giving generously and cheerfully, don’t give”—those pastors pray to God that the people don’t take them up on it.

Consider tithing. With some arsenal of biblical content, a pastor can call for the folks to give 10% of their income. The story goes like this: “The Bible commands tithing. For some of you that may be a stretch, even a pinch. So, do this. Give what percentage you can, say 6%, yet aim to increase it a percentage point as ‘God blesses you.’ With patience and perseverance you will soon reach the 10% mark.” Meanwhile, the wealthy people sit smiling in the congregation and hilariously give their 10%. “What’s all this about sacrificial giving?” the wealthy wonder.

The old saw was ‘we don’t talk about religion and politics.’ Well, kiss that good-bye. What we don’t talk about is money. You would think that evangelical pastors who admire what Jesus talked about and who seek to imitate his Way, would step up to make clear and simple what Jesus taught. With Jesus standing up for them, pastors with confidence could launch into a series of sermons on money, giving, generosity, the poor, greed, financial injustices. The mute button is on for the money talks.

Let’s up the ante. A celebrity pastor offered a day-long talk on church finances. He promoted an idea I had never heard before; not in Bible school, in seminary, or from any other pastor(s). He began a practice early in his ministry of knowing the names of people in his church and the amount of money they gave. With this knowledge, he would make appointments with people and talk openly about their giving. I experienced ecclesial culture shock. This pastor’s approach was an invasion of financial privacy. Didn’t Jesus himself say “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” when you give to the needy (Matthew 6:3)? Why, then, should the pastor know? Didn’t Jesus give “the right to privacy” clause within all that the Bible teaches about money?

Wait. Didn’t Peter know details about Ananias’ and Sapphira’s giving in Acts 5? Aren’t there some serious discipleship realities connected to that story? At least one person in the church knows what we give—the financial secretary. We do want that year-end tax deductible amount report. Why shouldn’t the pastor know as well? Question: Should a pastor know what the people in the church give? Let’s hear from you.

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Evangelical
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • When we planted our church I was the chief bottle washer preacher everything and one of the things that we had to do was count up the money. However after counting money for a year I realize that there are sometimes when I could not separate what people don’t give to how they talk in church and I found myself being frustrated sometimes. So I gave up counting money. I find other things that help me decern about their spiritual walk and to know where people are. I find myself not being frustrated by those issues as much as I do by the money issue so I gave it up. Due to the fact that we preach through the books of the Bible, we preach on money whenever it comes up in the scripture so that’s quite often. I don’t shy away from preaching strong messages about money, so it’s kind of like a balance between the two for me.

  • John W. Frye

    Pastor Jeff, thanks for this peek into your life as a pastor. You raise a real dilemma. A similar tension I’ve heard is from those who do counseling in the church, i.e., having a hard time watching and hearing people in church who are abusive in their homes.

  • ZZ

    No.
    I don’t hold to 10% being a tithe either.
    I don’t think a tithe is only monetary. It could be giving my time, things, etc.
    I think, in many cases, we’re led to give more than the 10%.
    I also know, from living in third world countries, that a 10% monetary “tithe” could cause starvation in a family.
    It’s a heart issue. Not a finance issue and it’s between me and God.

  • Brian Ladd

    This. You cannot convince me that knowing what a parishoner gives/doesn’t give won’t have any bias/bearing on how you treat them and others.

  • Fred Zabala

    No mention of purpose or intent for the money given. Should givers have a voice in how the money is spent? Who decides how “God’s” resources are utilized once its handed over to the financial staff? Too many “skull sized kingdoms” are constructed with the guilt and shame of this issue. Its like taxes-how much is enough? Just a little bit more.

  • Inquirer

    First, the jarring truth:

    “I cranked out the hackneyed stewardship sermons about the “3 Ts” —time, talent, and treasure.”
    “While pastors may say to the congregation—’If you’re not giving generously and cheerfully, don’t give’—those pastors pray to God that the people don’t take them up on it.
    “’What’s all this about sacrificial giving?’ the wealthy wonder.”
    “A celebrity pastor…………”

    The financially-sophisticated 501(c)3’s to which my wife and I give are able to report in their new appeal how much we gave in response to the last campaign. Those to which we gave what to them was a significant amount put us on the Executive Director’s contact list. Sometimes we receive invitations to participate in special events. We accept each of these as a necessary part of the effort to meet budget.

    The problem is that 501(c)3’s call themselves “church,” when in fact the church of the New Testament – the church that Jesus said He would (and is) building – cannot be made an organization run by people. The two are mutually exclusive.
    As long as “church” and “501(c)3” are understood as identities, agreement to an answer to your question cannot be reached.

    When it is finally realized and understood that the 501(c)3 which is called “church” is really only a parachurch organization, with all of the organizational characteristics of any other parachurch organization, then all of the fund-raising methods which currently exist in the parachurch world will be accepted in the 501(c) three “church” world of today.

  • Wes

    Yes, I think so. I don’t see any inherent right to privilege or confidentiality in what you give. Matthew 6:3 appears to be a check on the giver’s pride, not a privacy right. And because giving concerns the giver’s spiritual health, I think the details about what a member gives are rightly a pastor’s concern.

    Of course, for Matthew 6:3 purposes, giving shouldn’t be made public to all. But for discipleship purposes, someone in the ministry should at least be able to see what someone gives, if necessary.

    That’s my two mites, FWIW.

  • John W. Frye

    Wes, you’re a rare pastor unless the celebrity man I heard has developed a following. I know my use of the right hand/ left hand reflects popular thinking not good interpretation. Thanks for commenting .

  • John W. Frye

    Inquirer, you’ve brought up the sticky wicket in ecclesial giving–the role of church as a tax deductible organization. I’m not prepared to untangle the knot you’ve exposed. Thanks for interacting.

  • John W. Frye

    Fred Zabala, no doubt dishonorable stewardship by church leadership has blighted givers’ views about this whole topic. I like your thought about the role of the congregation in how God’s money is used. Thanks.

  • John W. Frye

    ZZ, while I sympathize with your comments and I agree the state of the heart while giving is crucial, I don’t think the finance issue is just between you and God. On a powerful subject like money we need a loving community to help us manage our commitments regarding the use of finances. Also, I know a solid Christian leader/missionary to people in poor villages in India who taught the poorest new believers to tithe…even if it meant sectioning off some rice grains to give. This brought a sense of dignified participation in the life of the church. Thanks for commenting.

  • RobS

    Another issue that could certainly be debated or discussed in “what does the pastor know” question might be the one of the value.

    Does the pastor need to know the specific value given by the Wilson family (for example)? Maybe he doesn’t need to know the specific amount given — but maybe just knowing that the Wilson family *is* giving could be one thing.

    I’ve heard some churches that reach out with a ‘Thank you’ letter once someone new starts giving. The indicator they focus on is not the $ amount, but the fact that the new giver has potentially reached a stage where their spiritual growth is getting to the level where they can give (or perhaps their finances are such so that they feel like they can participate in the work of the church through their finances as well).

    The goal being more around the spiritual maturity of the giver — not as much the specific $ amount being given.

    I find many sermons on “time, talent, and treasure” often leave people with excuses to clamor for participation (& validation) in the first two areas while ignoring the third area quite dramatically. Americans tend to be bad at budgets and money management, but in general, we are a blessed lot.

  • Steven Small

    The Pastor should absolutely know what his or her people give. How else does one get committed people to serve in important roles? You don’t want to invite the $1.00 a week giver to lead….well …anything. Knowing what people gives tells us where people’s hearts are because their treasure follows. I have always known even when I had to hold the paper statements left in see through envelopes at the back of the sanctuary up to the light. Now (in a different church) I get a list from the Financial Secretary. It is also a pastoral opportunity to see if someone is in financial trouble or if there is some issue with the church that needs pastoral attention. We’re in a new age and “new occasions teach new duties”. Secrecy encourages poor giving.

  • Wes

    Not a pastor, just a blog reader! I would agree, though, that your celebrity pastor’s approach may take things too far. But I don’t think taking a peak at who gives what is entirely uncommon. I’ve attended churches that looked at giving history when considering deacon nominations–not to show favor or grant titles to the biggest givers, but to make sure potential leaders in the church are being faithful stewards with what God has given them.

    I also appreciate a senior pastor’s hesitation to know who gives what, for fear of showing bias. But at the same time, it doesn’t make sense to me that this matter of the heart is uniquely exempt from accountability.

  • Inquirer

    Thanks for your positive response, John. I am hoping that there will be those who choose engage in untangling that knot, as I believe that knot is at the core of what is damaging to Jesus’ church as it is commonly structured.

  • John W. Frye

    Steven Small, I think this the first time I’ve read about the benefits of pastors knowing people’s giving. What push back have you had about this knowledge?

  • Bob

    I give a dollar a week in the envelope so I can look normal in
    front of the deacons and others that see me when the plate is passed. I have no problem making giving public then
    the pastor can woo the biggest givers.
    Pastors make an insane amount of money compared to the rest of the
    congregation. I gave most of my money to nonprofits where the staff takes a
    small portion of the gross. Churches–
    after the staff has been paid there is little left over for ministry. The whole church structure needs to collapse
    then pastors will have to be poor and live out what they say.

  • John W. Frye

    RobS, what hesitation do you have about knowing what amount the “Wilson family” give? Thanks for entering this discussion.

  • Tucker

    What about church members who give very little to their church but more than 20% to charities that meet high financial standards? This is surely not “sacrificial” giving since we enjoy living very economically. I don’t know where we would find a church that meets our standard of fiscal responsibility.

  • John W. Frye

    Thanks, again, Wes, for contributing to this interesting discussion.

  • mcrick

    “Pastors make an insane amount of money compared to the rest of the Congregation” ???? Seriously! I think a fact check of pastor salaries in your average church might change your thinking. Most struggle to make ends meet like so many they minister to. A huge number also have no church sponsored retirement plan either.

  • RobS

    Great question. If there’s a chance that it might cause the pastor to view people in a different way. The pastor doesn’t want to put himself in a position where he’s considering the Wilson family is giving a certain amount and the Smith family a different amount. If the Wilsons don’t give much but drive a Mercedes, what conclusion does the pastor draw? Does he think less of the Wilsons?

    I’m not saying he would, but as a person who works with finances and sees some very high income earners, it’s a little depressing when I see their taxes and see if they give absolutely nothing to any charity at all. Some are amazing givers, but others are not. We all need to learn how to give and recognize God as the original giver of the gift.

    Knowing some of your church’s top givers though (even if specific $ figures are not known) could be useful for a pastor who is stepping into a capital campaign. To understand those that have a heart for giving and be able to thank them for their spiritual leadership might be an advantage.

    Your original question is a good one, it’s tough!

  • jerisman

    ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’ve seen situations where the pastor knew, and would (perhaps unconciously) water down his sermons so as not to upset the rich givers who were living careless lives. I’d totally walk out of a church if this were the case.

  • Bob

    Very few companies have retirement plans, maybe the medical and educational fields….that’s what IRAs are for

  • NathanMichael

    As a pastor I do check what people are giving. If the words of Jesus have anything to say about it, giving / generousity is a significant indicator of spiritual health. That is my *only* concern when I check –> are people healthy? As pastors, should we not be concerned about the spiritual health of those we shepherd? A lack of generosity is indicative of a spiritual problem. A lack of contributing to the community from which people also extract many resources is indicative of a spiritual problem. I have people who divide their giving up between the church and other para-church organizations, charities that help the poor, etc. I’m fine with that. But when there’s a lack of generosity, that’s a problem. It almost always exposes some sort of idolatry or selfishness.

  • Ulf Turkewitsch

    Tithing ten percent of your income is not in the New Testament It is of course binding on Israel. We are not Israel. We are now in the age of grace. As such we should follow the Holy Spirit in our giving. It is now up to us, not “The Law” as to what to give. I think that where your heart is, there your resources will flow. We are not under the Law any more. Whether the pastor should know who or what people in his congregation are giving is therefore up to him and the congregation.

  • John W. Frye

    “Whether the pastor should know who or what people in his congregation are giving is therefore up to him and the congregation.” So, Ulf, there’s no binding teaching for all churches? I’ve read that the total requirement for OT giving was over 30% annually. Have you heard or read that?

  • John W. Frye

    Good observations, NathanielMichael. Thank you for commenting.

  • John W. Frye

    Jerisman, does your emphasized comment have all pastors in mind? For example, see Nathaniel Michael’s comment above. Would he be in danger of watering down his sermons? Thanks for entering the conversation.

  • Bill Scudder

    pastors should not know what an individual gives. They are human and they will favor those that give the most.

  • John W. Frye

    In my environment, Tucker, it was emphasized, and I’m not saying this is right, that your local church was to be first in your giving, then you give to other missions/charities/parachurch endeavors. Fiscal responsibility should be maintained with integrity and high standards both by givers and church leaders.

  • John W. Frye

    Bob, I may be reading you wrong, but your comment comes across very prickly. I’m sorry if you’ve been burned by financially irresponsible church leaders or appalled by TV charlatans. As a semi retired pastor I can tell you that most pastors do not go into ministry to make big money.

  • John W. Frye

    Thanks, Rob, for tackling the question. I appreciate your thoughts on this topic.

  • William AndAnn Akers

    Shouldn’t the people know about the pastors giving and salary?In most of the mega churches these facts are hidden from the members. This is wrong and personally I would not attend a church that kept these numbers from the members.

  • William AndAnn Akers

    Do the people know about your giving and salary?

  • jerisman

    Yes indeed, I do have all pastors in mind. Including Nathaniel Michael. I’m not suggesting that he personally waters down his sermons. And I do “get” his point that a lack of generosity may indicate a spiritual problem. But if pastors are truly in touch with their congregations, they should be able to discern a spirit of generosity without knowing the amount that goes into the offering plate. Practical example: a young family with several kids who struggle to get by on a household income of (say) $40K/year may indeed be far more generous – in the holistic sense – even if they only contribute a few bucks to the offering, than some rich dude who puts in a couple hundred dollars every week. I maintain that the ONLY one who should know how much an individual gives is the financial secretary. And he/she should be thoroughly vetted in matters of personal integrity, and not given to gossip.

  • NathanMichael

    Yes. I make $67k / year. I give 10% gross income to our church. I give another 2% gross income to Compassion International and other local charities. My wife does the same with her income. We are fine to disclose. We’re happy to model spiritual health to those we lead.

  • NathanMichael

    As a regional overseer I do not find that a major problem within our circles. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen – I’ve seen it. (Especially different groups with different theologies, leading to different behaviours in this regard.) What we do find is that some people with higher incomes who feel a sense of entitlement / control and will use money to manipulate leaders. So the issue of favour is often forced from the other side, rather than always from leaders.

  • Joseph Canner

    I’ve heard that, too, but I’m not sure it’s relevant as OT Israel (at least at first) did not have any other forms of taxation as far as we know. Some of that 30% was supposed to go to the poor, which (for better or for worse) is what (some of) our taxes go for these days.

  • Bob

    you’re right John, I’m been burned a few times. Because I don’t have MD after my name, I’m not coddled. I have a accept that pastors are some of the most dysfunctional of folks.

  • gingoro

    I object to the implicit assumption that one giving to God is to be channeled thru the church. Now that we are old and useless and no longer part of the church assembly most of our money goes to outside agencies, like the nearby homeless shelter.

  • Joseph Canner

    As a church trustee responsible for keeping track of giving, I can say that sometimes I wish I didn’t know what people give, if for no other reason than I am always tempted to estimate people’s salaries and/or evaluate their adherence to the magical 10% figure. Moreover, when I see giving dropping off, there is a strong temptation to suspect that it is connected to dissatisfaction with church leadership, which causes delicate church politics and relationships to get even more so . Conversely, it could be an indication of financial distress, at which point one has to decide whether to approach the person to see if they need help, or whether to refer the matter to the pastors/elders, or whether to ignore it.

    We don’t share giving information with the pastor, but he could find it out if he wanted to (I don’t think he does).

    I don’t think a blanket 10% is an appropriate standard from a NT standpoint, but I will admit that I use that standard for myself because I would probably be tempted to go lower if left to my own devices. It also causes me to be judgmental of others, as noted above.

  • Joseph Canner

    I agree that there may be pastoral reasons to know about giving, especially if giving drops off (see my comment above).

    However, I question whether giving should be used as a criteria for service. If a person has the gifts, skills, and time to serve, I don’t think it’s any of our business how much they give. I think if they are displaying gifts of the Spirit in all other respects, we need to trust that they have a good reason for not giving. That said, I can’t think of any strong Scriptural reasons for that opinion (nor for the opposite).

  • Joseph Canner

    Since I made a point similar to ZZ’s, allow me to jump in here to respond to your pushback. What is your basis for asserting that a church community should keep each other accountable regarding giving? Or any other issues (overeating, sex, drinking, smoking, etc.), for that matter? Where do you draw the line? Churches differ widely on this issue, which has prompted me to wonder if it should really be up to the individual (and the Holy Spirit) to decide if they want to be held accountable. Unless, of course, the person is doing damage to others in the church or the church as a whole. I know this is too big of a topic for this post, but I think it is a question that begs for an answer.

  • jh

    Yeah, it gives interesting insight into fellow congregants. (I was on the finance committee and I usually was there for the counting of the offering.)
    We gave it to our pastor. There was some debate but we liked the pastor.

    The more disturbing part was that I was aware of how important certain people were to the church’s bottom line. I would see the congregation member and sometimes, I saw only their offering amount in blinking numbers over their heads.

    Former christian.

  • jh

    technically, the pastor or any christian who was drummed into the faith would respond with the widows mites. Jesus expects everything.

  • jh

    There is a difference between the mega-televangelists and the usual pastor at a normal church. I’ll tell you this – the biggest concern was that our offering tithes at least could cover the expenses and were on par with previous years. And there was always something that needed to be fixed or maintained and that’s not including the dues that our church had to pay up the hierarchy. The pastor worked for his salary and he needed to make the church financially viable. (After all, no tithing = dying church = out of job.)

    Even as an atheist, I do have some pity for average churches. Just not enough pity to want to subsidize their not for profit status anymore.

  • Vetland

    You were able to read this article and type an articulate response, so I’m wondering why you think you are useless to the church assembly?

    I am 37 but one of my favourite people at church is 94. It will be a real loss for us when he goes to be with the Lord. Surely there is a gathering of believers that need you.

    I have no objection to you giving to organisations outside of the church, but I do think that you should talk with God about the fact that you feel useless because I can’t understand how that could be true.

  • William AndAnn Akers

    Your disclosure is probably the exception and not the rule.Your salary is not your total compensation is it?

  • Fergus

    Agreed. I find it interesting that there is no mention of a tithe in Acts 15

  • Fergus

    What justification is given to support this position?

    “that your local church was to be first in your giving”

  • Mr Sir

    To me, that would make me feel that I could never give enough and that would put self doubt and shame in my mind, feeling that my pastor was judging or looking down on me. I have enough problems in my walk with Christ in this world that I wouldn’t want more problems coming from, of all places, my Church.

  • Mr Sir

    So, because I can only afford “$1.00” a week, that means I am useless and unimportant?

  • NathanMichael

    Many of the pastors in my city from many denominations I know are fine to disclose their salary. It’s not hard when your pay is average or lower relative to other professions of equal education / skill / demands. And to answer your question, the only other compensation I get is $100/month payed in to a personal health savings plan (beyond what I contribute) since our church does not have health insurance or benefits. So yes, basically my total compensation. There’s no pension. No RSPs. No allowances.

  • NathanMichael

    Would you want your leaders to leave you in a place of dysfunction and self-destruction if they saw poor health? Or would you want them to say something to help you heal, mature, and flourish? A wise leader can present the issue(s) in a way to help people work past other areas of wounding from which the shame and self-doubt arise and hold them in bondage.

  • William AndAnn Akers

    Good for you and your openness. You will agree though that many mega pastors in effect hide their pay packages from the membership and this is wrong and somewhat dishonest. You know what I am talking about.

  • Mr Sir

    My comment was only based on the statement that (paraphrasing) those who give more are more important than those who give less.

  • NathanMichael

    Some, yes. Others, freely disclose for the sake of accountability and credibility. I’d agree with you, however, that ‘hiddenness’ or ‘secrecy’ is not a good posture to model as a leader and certainly leaves leaders, elders, boards, etc, in an unfortunate vulnerable position from which everyone stands to loose.

  • William AndAnn Akers

    I personally know of no mega pastor(2000or more members) in my area that will disclose personal compensation packages. This is ESP true with SBC pastors.Again I contend that this is dishonest to say the least and I think you agree. It would be easier to get an audience with the Pope than to find out what these guys make. My personal opinion concerning the pastor knowing what the parishioners give is that the pastor should not know. That is between the giver and God and nobody else.

  • Catherine Peters DeVries

    RD: Every tithe in the OT was a tax to the theocracy. But OT giving was voluntary. No “tithe” is directed nor expected in NT giving. The best source in my life has been the book by Dr. John MacArthur, “Giving God’s Way.” I urge everyone to look it up. Base on that book, and contrasted with some other authors, is how I have taught Christian giving. Even a Moody text says “Do not fall into the 10% trap.” When Pastors learn what congregants donate, giving will slow, or stop, or become anonymous.

  • Catherine Peters DeVries

    About 23%. Two tithes each year, plus a third tithe every three years. Theistic taxation.

  • gingoro

    Because I had chemo 3 yrs ago and have never fully recovered and have a bunch of other problems. Fatigue and mind fog are often present. Only make it out to church once a yr at best. We live 10 miles from the church neighbourhood whereas most of the people live nearby and almost all of my friends have died from cancer. We also are not part of the primary ethnic group that composes the church. Early morning is my best time.

  • pam

    “The Pastor should absolutely know what his or her people give. How else does one get committed people to serve in important roles? ”
    ++++++++++++

    sounds to me like opportunities are for sale to the highest bidder in your church.

    i’m astonished you can make such statements with ease.

  • pam

    I don’t see any inherent right to privilege for a pastor to know what a person gives.

  • pam

    it is impossible for such churches not to favor the higher givers. mr. and mrs. smith give 20% of their income to SmileTrain, World Vision, and International Justice Mission. But i suppose they are useless to their church.

    Ridiculous.

  • pam

    Not sure if this tightens the knot, or loosens it by simply talking about it:

    i contacted every local church in town to see if i could hold a piano recital there. all but one said an emphatic no. one church even went so far as to explain that it would put their tax exempt status in jeopardy if they allowed any group other than another 501(c)3 to use their facility.

    i offered to pay them. i offered to bring my own clean-up crew and vowed to leave the place exactly as it was when i found it. No, absolutely not.

    i was floored. the auditorium sits empty and unused 94.6% of the week (i did the math). it could enrich the community in so many ways by sharing its facility — music recitals, plays, after-school tutoring, teaching adults how to read, job skills,…..

    no. nothing must interfere with their tax exempt status. not even the community which subsidizes their share of public services.

  • pam

    Vetland, i think your perspective is a it simplistic. Being able to read and type an articulate response does not mean a church will welcome someone’s offers of usefulness.

    In my most recent church I observed the relative handful left of the older generation (who had paid for the church) being constantly overlooked. I observed them wanting to be involved, trying to reach out, trying to make a difference. The leaders weren’t interested. The younger generations weren’t interested.

    The older generation seemed very sad and bewildered, seemed to feel like they were spinning their wheels. but trying to be chipper, of course.

  • Steven Small

    It you make $10.00 a week, and give #1.00 sure, we’ll make you Moderator. You’re not useless, you’re teachable, maybe and you don’t get to be in leadership unless that really is your “widow’s mite’,

  • Steven Small

    “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” Do you really want leaders who don’t make sacrificial gifts?

  • Steven Small

    Giving is a criteria for leadership not service.

  • Steven Small

    No push back whatsoever. When explained, it makes sense. Perhaps that kind of response is why I’ve been in my current church for 24 years.

  • Wes

    Who says it’s a right or privilege? I’m just saying that, on balance, it can be a good practice.

  • DMH

    This question seems to be aimed at the “organized” church and at those who, for tax purposes, want a record of their giving. For those who practice “disorganized :)” church the question strikes me as irrelevant. No building to pay for and no paid pastor and staff (though all the gifts and callings are practiced) so no need for “tithing” (however conceived) and paper trails. Healthy community is being practiced so people are known in significant ways- no need to look at their “giving” to determine their discipleship status. Peoples needs are being met with generosity because it’s your good friend who perhaps needs financial help with a car repair. I’m not trying to paint a utopia (and it’s not), it’s just that there is a simpler way.

    It strikes me though that pastors who want to know what people are giving (for discipleship purposes :/ ) just seem a bit naive about their own propensity toward sin.

  • Joseph Canner

    Thanks for the clarification. Still not sure I agree, but am also not that dogmatic on it. I’m not sure my church has ever faced that dilemma, so I don’t know where I would land in practice. If it works for you…

  • pam

    ‘sacrificial gifts’ can easily be disguised as buying one’s way into power.

    this whole ‘sacrificial giving’ requirement can become a competition for who can out-give everyone else — the winner gets the prize of being awarded power of the leadership position and gets to parade around in the “king of generosity” crown.

    i want a leader who is skilled at leading and comes by it honestly.

    generosity is good and right, of course. but no one can presume to be judge and jury of the point at which someone else’s giving becomes ‘sacrificial’.

    this nit-picky box-checking scrutiny of fellow christians is utterly disturbing and makes me extremely uncomfortable.

  • pam

    i suppose it’s good practice in controlling environments. my point is that you seem to be making a dangerous conjecture:
    saying a christian by necessity gives up their financial privacy and the right to make their own financial decisions. if the pastor doesn’t approve, there will obviously be consequences of some kind.

  • Steven Small

    I don’t know what kind of church you attend or serve, but people aren’t fighting for leadership positions in any mainline church I know of. Sacrifice isn’t about an set amount. Most often those who have an issue with having their giving known are hiding the reality (or embarrassed that they are poor stewards. obviously there are times when for a host of reasons a person is unable to give. We have found that those who make the most negative noise are the worst givers. I served a previous church where an elderly woman was believed to be a big giver and was allowed to rule the church. When her giving came into the light, $15.00 a month, her power over everyone disappeared. By the grace of God, so did she!

  • J. Michael Brooks

    As I read through several of the comments made I was really pleased to see all of the different points of view. If you are a Christian, you should know that in the old testament, 10% was the tithe, and above that ten % was an offering.
    The tithe was meant to “keep the devourer away”. That would be satan! The offering is any amount above the 10% figure and that is what God blesses.
    In reality, you pay your tithes to someone, and satan picks where you just blow that money because he has kept you from giving to the church. When you give to the church, you are giving to God Himself. Even if it is squandered away by the officers of that church, God takes care of your needs because you followed His word.
    In the new testament, Jesus tells talks about money very often because money is so often what we worship, instead of the One who gave us the ability to work by giving us precious health.
    Think of this, the woman with just 2 mites, gave it all, and Jesus saw that and immediately said, “Truly I say unto you that this poor widow has put in more than ALL! For these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood she had.”
    God see’s it all, whether we care of not. Thanks for reading.

  • Mr Sir

    So it’s all about the money…

  • jeffrey jenkins

    One might say that there is no need to measure the amount of moisture in the soil because you can tell if a tree is well watered by the quality of the fruit it produces; but often the effects of a drought are not evident until it is too late and there has been much damage done to the roots.

  • Wes

    Wow, you’re blowing this way out of proportion. I never suggested christians shouldn’t get to make their own financial decisions.

  • Steven Small

    It all about commitment sacrifice and faithfulness for which $ is one sign.

  • Mr Sir

    Exactly! I don’t see how someone’s “commitment sacrifice and faithfulness” can be determined by how rich or poor someone is.

  • Someone definitely needs to untangle this knot.

    The 503(c)3 is an organizational form that improves the mechanics of holding or leasing property and receiving/disbursing funds. The guts of the thing are incorporation (tax-exempt status is its own knot).

    Anything bigger than a house church is going to have a very difficult time surviving in the US. without it. Even to merely rent a small facility on a continuing basis. Forgoing incorporation and entangling personal finances the business of a growing church is a spectacularly bad idea.

    The problem is that we are pretty much insensitive to the effects of organizational forms. Which absolutely why donors should NOT be known to pastors. Or to elders. Or for that matter, to anybody but the bookkeepers.

    Incorporated entities are generally governed by a board of directors. Most churches seem to use elders to fill this role. Directors have fiduciary duties to the corporation, and to the donors. In theory, they also have a duty of loyalty to the mission of the corporation.

    But as a practical matter, if the identities of sources of large, repeat donations are known, organizational priorities will tend to tilt in the direction of the money.

  • Norman

    It’s possibly a manipulative consideration to be overly
    concerned what people chose to give to their local congregation. It smacks of phariseeism
    and legalism; and lest we forget that system was put aside through Christ.
    Israel was a theocracy and that theocratic system was found wanting especially
    because of its abuse of priestly governing and Pharisaical meddling powers (kind
    of reminds me of institutional churches drifting back toward that model today
    which is so enticing). Its very likely the reason we see the idea of
    giving as one is prospered as the NT model which replaced Theocratic Israel and
    its supporting government function. That is until the Romans came along and
    added their own tax as well.

    Let’s see, the general rule is that Americans pay taxes for
    the first 5 months of the year, so if we count every assorted tax then a person
    making 50k a year pays 20K a year in all combined forms of taxes. I think that
    is 40% off the top before any tithing is calculated. It’s debatable whether
    that 50k really belonged to the individual in the first place to have it as the
    basis for 10%, of course the Pharisee would embrace it.

    How about a fresh approach; simply explain to the
    congregation the good works that are endeavored to be accomplished. Build up
    the good that can be done in missions and support of identified homeless and
    poor. Ask people to be generous as they are prospered and encourage them gently
    and graciously without using the cheap 10% stick.

    Reverting to the tithing concept takes us back to all the
    problems that Jesus identified with the corrupt Jewish system of the day and
    the manifold problems with trying to measure up by works. Churches are free
    will offerings and if a church and its members want to operate under the
    tithing rule and preacher dominance then their doors are open. If one thinks
    there is a better model; then those doors are open as well. Just as the Jewish model is still available to
    return to if one desires living under the
    Law.

    Just one other thing, how do you measure the giving
    percentage if say the wife decides to leave the workforce and donate her time
    and effort to Christian counseling for which she receives not a penny for. So,
    they decide to live on less and they don’t have funds now to set aside for
    retirement protection. Are they not
    providing for their own when they neglect to plan for the time when they no
    longer can provide? Especially if one or both becomes seriously ill in later
    life and they have little money set aside or what they do have is eaten up because
    of extreme illness treatment.

    These are all issues that should be left to the couple. Surely
    it doesn’t need a meddlesome preacher coming and counseling them that perhaps
    their spiritual health is not where it should be and he has guidance for them
    on how to rectify and get back into the good graces of God. This is why legalism and Phariseeism was
    killed off by Christ and Holy freedom has dawned.

    Money is a subject that one can make a proof text out of
    going either direction depending upon whether you use the OT or the NT as your
    standard. Do we really understand why the old system was set aside in the first
    place? The Jews recognized early in the Garden that dependence upon arbitrary human
    standards where always going to lead to corruption; it was called the curse.

  • Ulf Turkewitsch

    Why are we focusing on OT laws of tithing? And, no, I do not see any “binding law ” for new testament believers. Do you, and if so could you point me to it please? However the Lord loves a cheerful giver.

  • Veonka Mohedano

    How sad!

  • Veonka Mohedano

    I have spoken this SO MANY TIMES , We’re not under Law, but under Grace. However, Many of people would rather put tape over one’s mouth rather than to hear or believe that which is in God’s Word the Bible by the way! Many people have been so brainwashed by “Get Rich Quick Pastor’s” who have preached that you’re giving it to God. So, when did the pastor become God? I ‘ve seen people give to the pastor but if their neighbors are hungry they wouldn’t feed them! In the New Testament it says that God wants your service to him because he owns ALL there is and God definitely dosent need money! I just pray that many people wake up and see that God is A kind and Just God and God isn’t going to reward you/us for the money we gave but by the works we did and the “#HELP” we gave to others!

  • Veonka Mohedano

    No it doesn’t Nathan Michael, it just exposes how much money goes in your pocket.

  • Veonka Mohedano

    You’re absolutely welcome hun Mr. Sir!

  • Veonka Mohedano

    Nathan Michael, how does giving them your money help them emotionally, mentally, and physically? So you’re saying to me that if they’re not giving you their money it’s something wrong? And you want to see what’s going on with them as to why they’re not giving. Have you ever thought about they could be feeding a neighbor, they could be paying somebody’s electricity bill. It could be they’re not necessarily giving it to you and your church but that doesn’t mean that they’re not giving because they’re not giving it to you!!!!!!! So, I don’t understand your statement because it just seems to me you want to know why they’re not giving because it’s less money going in your pocket plain and simple so, stop trying to use a backdrop to get the money or say you’re concerned when in actuality you really want the money for yourself just come out and say it Be A Man About It! Instead of trying to use your lane psychology!

  • Veonka Mohedano

    Chances are, THEY DON’T!

  • Veonka Mohedano

    No they don’t

  • Veonka Mohedano

    AMEN to that Bill!

  • Veonka Mohedano

    Fergus, NONE! Giving is giving matters not to whom!

  • Veonka Mohedano

    Bob, you’re absolutely correct! I do believe most of them wouldn’t be pastors anymore because the money is what A lot of them are interested in. Big lavish houses, lavish automobiles, lavish clothing, expensive Jets,and planes, trips, exotic vacations, that’s what most of them are interested in not the people hearts or the people well being. However, they say they are interested in their parishioners well-being but if their parishioners wasn’t able to give them money anymore you would really see how many of them would still remain pastors. Now, I do believe that it would be some but not nearly as many as what we have today sodomites in its rarest!

  • Ulf Turkewitsch

    Right on Veonka!!!!! It is very good to see that there are some people who have not been fooled into the “ten percent or more ” rule of tithing. Many pastors and preachers try to transpose the OT directly into our time. They have missed the radical teachings of the NT. One should read all of the new testament to ascertain God’s will here and now. As this cannot be successfully done without the Holy Spirit they make many mistakes that are harmful to the new testament believers. They thus put all kinds of hard laws onto believers. One long standing branch if Christianity has done this to the confusion and harm of many millions of people. This is very sad.

  • Veonka Mohedano

    So do I Ulf, find it sad! There are so many Churches that have people FEELING BAD for not being able to give! Moreover, that’s why so many people aren’t attending Church simply because they feel bad when they don’t have the MONEY to put in the offering. In the Scriptures it states that A leader doesn’t burdensome their congregation. I know that God doesn’t need money and it says in the Bible “by the sweat of A man’s eyebrows shall he eat bread”. When Jesus Christ was on earth doing the work of his Father Jehovah God [Psalms 83:18] Jesus worked and taught, Jesus feed his congregation, because the Pastor is suppose to be the Shepherd one who looks out for the Sheep just as David was a shepherd who attended to the Sheep this is the metaphor thatJehovah God put in place for all of the pastors is that they feed their sheep. When did you ever see that Jesus took money from anybody? Jesus preached and gave the word of his Father Freely so, where are they getting this 10% rule from, I know it’s from the OT but that was a rule when Jesus was on earth and it wasn’t money, it was burned offering to the Father. I know why they have indoctrinated it so much, it’s so that they could line their own Pockets even in the small churches they’re lining their pockets, so they can live somewhat lavishly. On the other hand, the so called “small Churchs” might not do it on a broad-spectrum like the Crest Low Dollars of the world in the T.D.Jakes of the world,the Billy Graham’s of the world, or the Paula White’s Exedra Exedra Exedra… but they’re certainly getting something out of it not to be able to work a secular job and just be a pastor. I think it is all sad because as stated Jesus is and the greatest that ever walk the earth he worked Jesus was a carpenter he worked with his hands and Jesus still went out and about and preached his Father’s Holy Word like it says in Matthew come ALL who is thirsty and burden down come and drink life’s Water FREE!!!!!!!

  • NathanMichael

    We agree on one thing. You don’t understand my statement. And you obviously haven’t read it carefully.

    Furthermore, your false accusations about my motivations and character are offensive. You know absolutely nothing about me. How is it that you can confidently state such things without them being a lie? Since you have zero factual basis with me, on what basis do you believe your harsh judgement of other pastors to be true?

  • Mr Sir

    Wow.

  • SD

    The Pastor needs to know enough about her/ his congregation’s giving. This information is vital for her to teach and challenge her congregation on giving. She also needs to know enough about her congregation’s spending – on themselves as compared with on missions. She must be well-versed with the summary financial statement, trends in giving (percentages help to retain financial privacy; I have seen people write cheques and place it face up on the offering trays) of the congregation as a whole and families/ individuals. It would also help if self-assessments on giving are conducted annually/ biennially. Such self-assessments could gauge the congregation’s knowledge of, attitude to and practice of giving.