How Much People Give?
In conducting training seminars on church giving
for thousands of pastors and church leaders the most common
question I hear is "Should the Pastor know how much people
give?" From my own experience, I can tell you
that when churches try to
answer this question in order to make a change to their current
practices or policies on this subject, they will have some of the
most emotional debates their leadership will ever experience!
Because of my background in executive leadership of
non-profit ministries (prior to my becoming a local church pastor),
I personally have experienced the importance of the leader of a
ministry knowing the giving practices and patterns of people that
support the ministry. But I have also learned that the church
world is very different from a non-profit organization. Many
churches have a long standing history (or even policies in place)
that never allow the pastor to know anything about people's giving.
But as I've pondered this issue, I think the question about
"Should the Pastor know how much people give?" is probably the WRONG
QUESTION for pastors and church leaders to ask!
I think the RIGHT QUESTION to ask is "WHAT should a pastor know about people's giving?"
In the average church, if you ask the question, "Should the pastor know
about people's giving?", most people envision the pastor getting
computer login codes and passwords and under the cover of darkness
secretly sitting in the church office carefully studying everyone's
detailed giving records and then deciding who he will be nice to
and who he will ignore in the future. Even some pastors admit
that if they knew how much people were "giving" or "not giving" they
might be tempted to treat people differently. We forget that
the Bible clearly identifies that leaders and others knew the giving
habits of some people (see I Chronicles 29, Acts 4:37, Nehemiah 7:70,
Acts 5:1-2, Luke 8:3) and that even Jesus sat and watched how much
people were putting into the offering box (Luke 21:1-4)!
While discussing this question with a leader at my
church who said that if I knew how much people gave, I would
treat them differently. I commented to them that as the pastor I
know many dark secrets about people's lives. I know who has
adultery, who has a drinking problem, who had in abortion in the
past, who has had homosexual encounters or relationships, who is on
drugs, who is seriously in debt, who has tried to
commit suicide, and much, much more. Their response amazed me
- - "but this is different - - we're talking about MONEY!" I
assured the person that regardless of people's dark secrets or their
giving habits, I'm called to love and shepherd all the sheep in our
But, let's get back to the RIGHT QUESTION I
think church leaders should discuss and decide: "WHAT should a
pastor know about people's giving?" Here are six things I
think a pastor should be notified about if he is to effectively
pastor his congregation. In each of the following cases, the
pastor does not necessarily have to know specific amounts to
effectively pastor these individuals.
2) WHEN SOMEONE STOPS GIVING (OR SIGNIFICANTLY
DECREASES THEIR GIVING): This usually happens in someone's
life for two primary reasons. First, the person is
going through personal challenges or a great hardship (sometimes
even unknown to others). Secondly, the person is upset with
the church or someone in the church, and this is the early warning sign
of that type of situation. I read once that someone that is
upset usually stops giving 6 months before they actually leave the
church. Both of these are pastoral issues. If the
pastor is notified that someone's giving suddenly stopped or was
greatly decreased, he can look for an opportunity to talk with them
and find out what's happening in their life. If it is a time
of hardship, the pastor can pray or possibly mobilize ways the family can be
helped. If it is a conflict the person is having with the
church or someone in the church, the pastor can encourage healthy
dialogue and reconciliation.
3) WHEN SOMEONE GIVES A GIFT FOR A SPECIAL
PURPOSE: In every church there are constantly designated funds
coming in and special projects taking place - - missions trips.
funeral memorial gifts, scholarships, renovation projects, special
projects and purchases, and so much more. When a pastor knows
that someone gave a special gift, he can be sensitive to make sure
the person knows their gift was received and appreciated and that it
was being used as intended. Sometimes it will also be
appropriate to send a special report documenting the impact of the
person's gift (e.g. if someone gave a gift to help underwrite a
short-term missions project).
4) WHEN SOMEONE IS BEING CONSIDERED FOR A TOP
LEADERSHIP POSITION: The Bible says in Luke 12:34 "Where a
person's treasure is, there your heart will be also." In
considering people for top leadership positions (elders) in my last
two churches, we would give the list of potential candidates to our
treasurer and ask the question, "Do each of these people show
Christian maturity and generosity in their giving practices?
Yes or No?" Notice, we did not ask the specific amount. It has
been amazing that the treasurer has had to come back and report "No"
on a number of people over the years that "appear" to be
spiritually mature and are very active and respected in the church.
But here's the problem: If they aren't giving faithfully to
your church, their hearts are not with you and their hearts are
actually far from you! These are not the type of people you
want in your key leadership positions. For one reason, any time you
have to face important financial decisions that will impact your
church's future (renovations, ministry expansion, building projects,
etc.) they will naturally be resistant to anything that might cause
them to need to give.
5) WHEN SOMEONE HAS SHOWN THE CAPACITY TO GIVE
GENEROUSLY: While God blesses all people, some people have been
especially spiritually gifted to be very generous givers. Romans
12:8 tells us that some people are given the "gift of giving" and
that they must use this gift well. Normally, this means a
person has been blessed with abilities to make a greater income than
they choose to spend on their lifestyle that they invest in God's
work. If someone is a great singer, we encourage them to
sing. If someone is a great teacher or youth worker, we
encourage them to use their gifts. But if someone is a great
giver, we ignore them! Don't all people need to be encouraged
in their God-given giftedness, including generous givers? If a pastor knows
someone is exhibiting generous giving habits, the pastor can connect with
this person and encourage them to sharpen their gift of giving
through ministries that can encourage and empower them to live and
give even more generously (www.GenerousGiving.org,
and others). Also, in major church projects (building
campaigns, etc.), generous lead gifts and leadership gifts (Nehemiah
2:2-9, I Chronicles 29) that are normally gained through special
meetings with key people that God has given the capacity to give
generously can make the difference between success and failure in a
6) WHAT ARE THE GIVING
PATTERNS AND LEVELS IN YOUR CONGREGATION (AMOUNTS NOT NAMES):
Most pastors and church leaders have no idea about the giving
patterns within their congregation. Yet, in any undertaking it
is important to know your facts and what is happening around you.
A number of years ago I developed a
annual giving worksheet report that can give the pastor and
key leaders and/or the congregation important giving demographics
for the church (without any reference to
people's individual names). This worksheet has often proved to
be very helpful as we realized the need to develop financial
ministries in the church that would train people how to manage their
God-given resources and to give generously.
In my own church that is 112 years old and had an
unwritten policy that the pastor should never know anything about
anyone's giving, I experienced the heat, friction, and tension of
trying to change the policy about "Should the pastor know about
everyone's giving?". I now realize we were asking the wrong
question. The RIGHT QUESTION to ask is "WHAT should a pastor
know about people's giving?" The six items I identified above
will help every pastor know how to shepherd, care for, and lead
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rev. Brian Kluth is a Senior Pastor in
Colorado and is the founder of the
Kluth is the author
of the bestselling
that has been used by hundreds of churches to inspire greater
generosity and increase giving.
He has a
FREE e-newsletter on
church giving that is sent to
15,000 pastors and leaders nationwide and to over 80 countries.
He has conducted half-day "MAXIMUM Generosity Leadership Seminars"
for thousands of pastors and church leaders.