To check or not to check?
Where do you land on the great “Should the pastor know the congregation’s giving records?” debate?
Few issues in church leadership raise as much passionate dialogue as does this age-old question. In one corner is the perspective that, in order to effectively lead the church, the pastor should know “who is giving what”. In the other corner is the view that such information could skew the pastor’s relationship with his congregants.
Where do I land?
I believe firmly that the pastor must know the giving records. Specifically there are 6 compelling reasons the pastor must have this information.
1. Giving is a spiritual matter, not a financial matter.
2. The senior pastor should express gratitude for large gifts.
3. A dramatic decline in giving could signal financial hardship.
4. The pastor must know the commitment of his staff and board.
5. It is imperative to know whether those attempting to influence church finances have “skin in the game”.
6. Financial giving information must be held at a higher level in the organization than a person on the administrative staff.
Practically speaking, the senior pastor need not, and likely cannot, pour over the giving record each week.
Here’s how we managed this in the large church in Canada where I served as executive pastor.
I met with the director of finance every week, who would report to me any broad brush-stroke issues (eg, overall giving trends, giving as a percentage of budget, etc), as well as information pertinent for me to review with the senior pastor. Typically this would involve only extreme cases reflecting the 6 indicators listed above.
In my meeting with the senior pastor I would then flag any patterns I believed would enable him to best lead the church.
This never resulted in the pastor’s relationship with the members getting “weird”. Rather, it allowed him to lead. And to lead well.
If you don’t yet follow this principle, let me urge you to re-open this discussion with your senior leaders.
When you view this as a matter of spiritual leadership, it could radically change your perspective.
Where do you land on the question, “To check, or not to check?”
I believe Jesus is our example of observing/checking on giving. He knew how much the widow gave (a mite) and why, and because of her pure motive, stated that she gave “more” than all the rest.