Making the Case for Pastors Knowing Giving Trends

Making the Case for Pastors Knowing Giving Trends

Should pastors of the church know how much each family/individual tithes? That was a question @AdamPage85 asked on Twitter the other day. This unofficial poll had 1,183 votes when I weighed in with my answer. 90.2% said no, with only 9.8% saying yes. I was one of that 9.8%.

I’m going to share with you why I said yes in this edition of the Coach entitled Making the Case for Pastors Knowing Giving Trends.

In my last edition of the Coach, I shared how I have been moving churches beyond capital campaigns towards a Legacy Team approach to raising funds. Behind this strategy lies this question, Should pastors know what members give? I believe the answer is yes. However, there are few issues that cause more division and consternation than this issue.

The number one response I get from pastors and staff on the subject of knowing members giving is this statement,

“I don’t want to know what people give because it might affect how I deal with them.”

Most church leaders think the above statement is based upon spiritual principles. Most think it enhances their standing in their congregation. I view the comment above as one of the stupidest statements any pastor or church leader can say. It might be your value not to know but come up with a better line. Why? Because when you say something like this, you are really saying you are too immature to handle the sin in the lives of your people.

Think about it. If you can’t handle if someone is giving or not, how can you handle any sin or issue they might have? If I hear you say the above about giving, then I will never go tell you about any struggle in my life. It might affect how you deal with me moving forward. If you, the spiritual leader of the congregation, cannot handle knowing what people give, is your financial secretary better equipped to deal with that?

Who says a pastor should not know what people give? Stingy people! People with something to hide. For generous people, this is not an issue. And, done correctly, knowing giving trends will help make you a better pastor.

Where does it say that the pastor should not know what people give? Nowhere, at least nowhere, that counts. The Bible is silent on this issue! I can make a much better case for the pastors knowing giving patterns than you can make biblically that the pastor should not know.

The lay response to this topic often is, “It’s none of your business!” When you understand how few give to the church, it’s no wonder they worry that their sin might be found out. As a result, there is incredible pressure from the laity to keep pastors in the dark.

Here are my two major reasons why pastors should know what their members give.

First, they are the spiritual leaders of the congregation, and giving is a spiritual matter. In fact, I would argue that it is often one of the leading indicators of where a person is spiritually. How can you effectively lead a church and not know what your members give?

Would you knowingly allow someone whom you knew was a thief or had a habitual sin problem to hold a leadership position in your church? Of course, the answer is no. Yet, in fact, we do just that by not holding a standard of giving in our churches. You unknowingly are allowing those that do not give, which God says is robbery, to serve in your ministry. By not giving on a regular basis, they are practicing a habitual sin that should disqualify them from leadership. All this is happening right under your nose if you are ignorant of the giving of your members.

Most pastors in America are clueless about who gives and who does not. They “guess” who might be giving and who is not. In my experience, many members of church finance teams don’t give but have a place at the table because it is perceived that, due to their secular position, they are givers. How many problems are created because a pastor lacks information that could lead them to a better decision? This is a major reason I contend a pastor should know the giving patterns of his members.

Secondly, Pastors who know their giving patterns raise more money. George Barna, speaking about pastoral access to giving, stated, “I found that such access is most common in the churches that are most effective in stewardship activity.”He went on to say, “Why should a pastor risk the possibility of leading people unfairly because he is aware of how much money they give to the church? Because the pastor is generally one of the key strategists involved in the stewardship campaign and in the aggregate financial oversight of the church. Having a detailed understanding of the giving patterns within the church facilitates clearer strategic planning. Pastors use giving data as a means of assessing how to broach the topic of financial need within the church and how to conceive fund-raising plans for church-wide implementation. You cannot make good decisions without good information.”1.

A word of caution needs to be given. Please understand that it is easy for me to write this from the safety of my study. You must live with what you decide to do. Some hills simply are not worth dying upon. This could be one. We must always weigh counsel and advice through our situation. The last thing I want is to create problems in your ministry. My point is simply that, as a pastor, you have the right to know, and a need to know, what members give.

Pastors who know what their members give do not violate any Scriptural principle, nor do they show favoritism. They simply have learned how to communicate with all levels of donors, including those that can give larger amounts for ministry purposes.

Too many times in church life, we allow the tail to wag the dog. Stop worrying about the few that might object to your knowledge of your donors. In my experience, those that howl the loudest are those that give the least. It’s high time we reject keeping ministers in the dark for what it truly is, a fear of being discovered as a non-supportive member of the Kingdom.

No Coach on Memorial Day, May 29th! I will see you next on June 5th!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

Missions and Ministry Moment (aka Offering Talk) – This week’s talk can be accessed after you register at:

  1. Barna, George. How to Increase Giving to Your Church. Ventura, CA: Gospel Light: 1997. 147.

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