Does Your Pastor Check Your Giving Record?

by Rocket Finance

One of my favorite blogs is Free Money Finance. I am always careful to check out FMF’s Sunday posts that almost always have to do with tithing or some aspect of the Bible and finances. I recently heard an interesting statement on the topic of giving and tithing. In the church I attend and in most churches with whom I have been acquainted, tithing and giving are very private matters. Givers who donate money in the form of a check, always put it in an envelope so that no one except for the treasurer will know who gave the money. Traditionally, the pastor is kept insulated from knowing anything about “who gives how much” and giving records are handled very discreetly.

In fact, in the culture of the northern midwest, the subject of finance is considered intensely private. I never knew how much money my father made – even though I have a rough idea now as an adult. My financial upbringing is certainly reflected in the Financial Blogger’s piece about Why Personal Finance Should Not be Personal.

This cultural paradigm was recently shaken when I heard a pastor say that when his church members are nominated for positions of leadership like deacon, trustee or elder - he checks their giving records. If they are not faithful givers, he asks them to withdraw their name from consideration. I think that it makes sense that those who are in leadership of a particular organization also be those who are also financially supportive, but the thought of a pastor checking giving records is unsettling to our usual way of doing things. This is the first time that I have ever heard a pastor admit publicly to checking the giving records of his church members.

Would those of you who are church members mind if your pastor was looking over your giving statements?

  1. 20 Responses to “Does Your Pastor Check Your Giving Record?”

  2. By FMF on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    I’ll be highlighting this post in a couple Sundays. Good discussion starter.

  3. By rocketc on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Thanks for stopping by. I’ll look forward to it.

  4. By plonkee on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    I think that it’s only likely to be appropriate if the congregation already has access to the pastor’s giving records.

    And how do you judge who is giving enough? Unless they’re going to ask for your tax return as well.

    I think that this could work, but is also open to abuse. I’d say that I wouldn’t do it, but then I’m unlikely to want a position of leadership within a church ;)

  5. By rocketc on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    I think your response was somewhat predictable, but I am glad you left it.

    I think that faithfulness should be the standard for giving enough – not amount. Remember the story of the widow’s “mite”.

    An open records stipulation on the part of the pastor – at least with those in leadership would certainly be reasonable. Now that you mention it – and I probably should have included it in the post – this particular pastor hands out a copy of his giving record to his deacons.

  6. By plonkee on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    I imagined that any decent person requiring that level of disclosure would. I think that’s my point though, that it would be fine if the pastor involved was a reasonable person, and could be awful if they weren’t.

    Faithfulness seems a reasonable standard to me. I’m all in favour of regular giving.

  7. By Steward on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    I feel that if a person’s character needs to be accredited in order to obtain a leadership position, then checking the financial giving records is OK. I would say that once is possibly enough though. That’s not an absolute statement. I know that the pastor not only has a responsibility to make sure his staff is accountable, but he also has a responsibility that his staff’s finances are still between him and God. If the pastor checks the finances regularly then there is a jeopardy that the staff member will exalt pride like the pharisee, as well as the opportunity for pastors to give respect of persons.

    I’d say that if pastors don’t check regularly then there better be another good accountability program in place. If the pastors do check regularly then there be better be methods in place that keep the staff clear from prideful pitfalls.

  8. By The Financial Blogger on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Thx for the mention!

    And this thing pastor story is quite crazy! What about people that give their time instead of money? Does he have a predetermined hourly rate for those? ;-)

  9. By rocketc on Nov 20, 2007 | Reply

    Financial Blogger,
    I think you make a good point.

    One possible question/response: The heart of one who gives a great deal of money, but neglects to give of his time may not truly support the ministry – in the same way, one who gives a great deal of time, but refuses to donate money is also out of balance.

  10. By Tim on Nov 29, 2007 | Reply

    Church I attended once gave me a notice about giving every Sunday. It sort of irritated me because I had given tithe for the entire quarter weeks earlier. I agree with you rocketc.

  11. By Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net on Dec 2, 2007 | Reply

    I don’t believe our pastors look at the giving records. The deacons take care of organizing the tithes and offerings and getting them to the church bookkeeper.

    The pastor at the church we attended before we moved never looked at the giving records. His reasoning is that as a pastor, he never wanted to be tempted to judge a member of the congregation based on what they gave or didn’t give. I think that’s pretty sound reasoning.

    It’s the pastor’s job to instruct people in the word of God. It’s God’s job to work in the hearts of people. That’s what’s going to determine if people give or not.

  12. By Peter Thompson on Dec 2, 2007 | Reply

    I was on the church council at my small church for several years, and the pastor does not check the giving records. At the same time he did know who the bigger hitters in the congregation were, even if he didn’t know the specific amounts they gave. When ever there was a capital project or special need, the pastor was a big part of the plan as to who to approach and how to approach them.

  13. By Mrs. Micah on Jan 18, 2008 | Reply

    I would feel awkward if it was used for elder selection. Suppose, for instance, that a candidate was deeply in debt. Maybe he believes that God really wants him to settle his debt as soon as possible.

    So perhaps he spends a lot of time volunteering at the church and elsewhere as his form of a tithe. Hence he’s nominated for the position. But because he doesn’t give in terms of cash, he’s ruled out.

    That would suck.

  14. By Cameron Schaefer on Jan 26, 2008 | Reply

    I think it is fine as long as the church gets to see what the pastor and staff make/give and a detailed report of where the tithe and offering money goes. Financial accountability works both ways.

    I’ve been in churches where this kind of transparency is considered taboo and it has always led to problems. On the other hand, I was in a church for several years that sent out detailed financial statements to all their members laying out exactly where all the money went including the salaries of the each member of the staff…the result, money was never a source of conflict in the church…there were no secrets!

  15. By rocketc on Jan 26, 2008 | Reply

    Cameron, this is basically how our church is run. The only caveat is that if a church staff member’s salary needs to be discussed at a public business meeting, typically the discussion takes place without that staff member present.

  16. By shaleh8 on Feb 29, 2008 | Reply

    It doesn’t matter to me should the pastorate checks my tithe records; I tithe because the Bible for me is the final authority in all matters regarding my personal relationship with God; and besides He owns it all anyway, I am just a steward that is called to manage what God has given to me. I am thankful that I earn the money that I earn to tithe.

  17. By Damsel on Mar 18, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting concept. Our church is very open about the salaries of the church staff. I seriously doubt that our pastor checks – I’ve heard him say during our Financial Peace class that he didn’t want to know because that was an issue between the individual and God.

    I wonder if there is a question that is asked of the elder/deacon candidate (along the lines of “Do you give regularly to the church?”) before the pastor checks? Maybe it’s just a verification of the candidate’s answer?

  18. By Jerry on Mar 28, 2008 | Reply

    This is one good reason for lay ministry, in my opinion, since money often leads to muck up the works in things spiritual. However, in this situation I think it is prudent either to take the example of Lynnae, where the pastor stays away from the finances on purpose, or else keep everything financial out in the open, per Cameron’s post. That way you have some insurance that everything is consistently on the up-and-up. Very interesting topic, indeed!
    Jerry

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