Recently I have been asked by a couple of people why a pastor should know what everyone gives. As one person said, “Doesn’t that cause you to play favorites?”
It just so happened that the next day I was asked to read the galleys of J. Clif Christopher’s new book, titled Whose Offering Plate is It? This is a a sequel to his bestseller Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate. As usual, this new book is a gold mine of information and guidance on money issues for the church. One of the chapters is strictly on the question of why a pastor should know what everyone gives. You need to read this book if you have any doubts about this issue.
I’m not going to give away Clif’s insights. But I am going to answer the question from my own experience.
Yes, every pastor or executive pastor ought to know what everyone gives for at least the following two reasons:
- So that no one is in leadership who isn’t adequately giving to the church. For me adequate means 10%.
- So that I know how to approach the person about their spiritual maturity. No one reaches spiritual maturity until they master their money instead of it mastering them.
Two stories should help here.
The first story is about a doctor in my church years ago who came to me for counseling. He wasn’t getting out of his spiritual life what he hoped he would. I knew that he was nowhere close to a tithe. So I told him he never will get out of his spiritual life what he wants as long as he holds back his wallet from God. If I hadn’t known what he was giving, I couldn’t have counseled him biblically. Whatever I would have said would have led him down the wrong road and left him with unreasonable expectations about his faith.
The second story is about a young blue collar couple just getting by who were tithing. The wife came down with some form of cancer and the treatments were eating them alive financially to the point that she stopped going to the doctor. When I heard that I went to them and said, “Stop tithing for now. God will understand. You need your treatments more than God needs your money.” If I had not known what they were giving I could not have intervened. And my intervention helped save her life.
The fact that so many church people are so passionately opposed to their pastor knowing what they give says that there is something positive about the pastor knowing what people give.
Pastor, it’s time you know. There is no defense for you not knowing.
Question: What, in your view, are the pros and cons of a pastor knowing what church members give? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.