by Jac La Tour

I recently ran across an article in Leadership Journal that posed this question: Should pastors know what people give? I wanted to hear more on the subject, so I did a little research of my own.

My first call was to Doug Roller, associate pastor at Grace Church of Orange, CA. He told me that who gives what is never brought to the pastors’ attention—it is strictly between the giver and God. “However,” says Roller, “we are very intentional about teaching what the Bible says about giving and fostering a culture of generosity within the church.”

Brian Kluth, former senior pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Colorado Springs, CO, writes that pastors should not be completely in the dark about giving patterns. He suggests that perhaps a more appropriate question is, “What should a pastor know about people’s giving?” Kluth builds a strong case for certain instances when it is wise for the pastor to be notified about an individual’s giving habits, like a sharp decrease in giving or when being considered for a leadership position within the church.

Others have taken a similar middle-of-the-road approach. Joe Ward of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church in Mansfield, TX (featured in the Leadership Journal article), encourages churches to periodically evaluate giving practices and notify senior leadership when appropriate. “While consulting for a church a few years ago…a giving analysis showed that 80 percent of the church’s income was given by two individuals in their mid-70s… [The church] was two funerals away from losing their cash flow. This information allowed the pastor to see the need to develop leadership, do more on stewardship, and challenge people with a vision.”

And some believe that, without a doubt, pastors should have full visibility of giving practices. They see it as an opportunity to know their sheep and “provide specific counsel and spiritual development tied to members’ tithing,” according to the Leadership Journal article.

Whatever your church’s policy, Leadership Journal recommends disclosing it to your congregation because donors need to have a realistic expectation of privacy. 

So, what’s your ministry’s policy? Post a comment and share your thoughts.

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  1. Our church has always had an informal policy that only the administrator knows who gives and what amount. At our Elder board meetings, we discuss trends in giving and patterns that we might want to address with the church body as a whole, but no one ever discusses how much or who is giving.

  2. The take away from the article for me is the question, “What should a pastor know about people’s giving?” The role of the shepherd is impacted in a negative way when the shepherd knows nothing at all about sources of church income. As long as it is done with discretion, pastors should know some info about members’ giving. Pastors at times have used the “I don’t know what anybody gives” positon to avoid potentially uncomfortable, but critically important, discipleship opportunities.

  3. While I was a pastor for 22 years, I practiced a strict rule of never knowing who gave what. Now as a consultant for churches I see that what the leaders do not know could be very damaging to the church and could open the church to real financial risks. Also, I have come to believe that Jesus’ statement that “where your treasure is there your heart will be” indicates that giving is a key indicator of spiritual maturity and loyalty. I now believe that key leaders should have access to certain types of financial records so that they can be better shepherds of the individual sheep and the flock as a whole.

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