3 Reasons Pastors Have Access to Their Church Members’ Giving Records

Many pastors want to avoid knowing their church members’ giving recordings. There are a few reasons for their avoidance. They don’t want to be perceived as showing favoritism, desiring to spend more time on other ministerial duties, and receiving advice from their peers who recommend avoiding it.

But some pastors have a different view. While they understand the reasons why pastors avoid giving records, they feel that reasons to access the records outweigh the reasons for avoiding them.

Here are three reasons pastors have access to their church members’ giving records:

  1. They view access as critical to discipleship. Jesus spoke on money more than any other topic while on earth. Why? Money is not just a bank account issue but a heart issue. Money management reflects heart management. The way one manages their money reveals their life’s priorities. And one of the main outcomes of a heart that is aligned with God’s design for a person and their money is generosity.
  2. They view access as critical to leadership placement. Pastors want to ensure that their church leaders, whether volunteer or paid, are giving to the church. There are two reasons—discipleship and buy-in. The discipleship issue is addressed in prior point. Beyond discipleship, pastors want leaders that are invested in the church, they have skin in the game. Pastors, and most church members, do not want detached leadership. They want oversight and guidance from those who put their money where their mouth is.
  3. They view access as critical to navigating conversations with disgruntled members. Disgruntled members can take up a lot of a pastors’ time. It’s the squeaky wheel effect. Sometimes, the disgruntled member even threatens to discontinue their giving. Knowing the member’s giving record aids the pastor with this conversation, both in content and time allotment. Conversations with disgruntled members who are invested, both with their time and money, should be approached differently than conversations with disgruntled members who have no skin in the game.

Both pastors who avoid giving records and those who view it as critical to their ministry have valid positions. Of course, church culture should be considered as well. Even is a pastor has a strong preference, it is probably not the hill to die on.

What about you? Do you have a preference? And why?

5 Reasons Why Pastors Avoid Church Member Giving Records

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6 thoughts on “3 Reasons Pastors Have Access to Their Church Members’ Giving Records

  1. I’d say the largest danger is knowing how much is being given because the human condition will prioritize their members by dollar amount as opposed to the attitude of a giving heart that Jesus pointed out in the Bible. Our church focuses on participation which can be an indicator of health. It’s a tough thing to measure as it can reveal the condition of the heart and plays into discipleship, but if used for church gain or favoritism, it only leads to great destruction. I’ve experienced both sides so I think the awareness of member giving should be minimal and should be handled with great care.

  2. Read the article. Points made would likely work fine in a church setting where such a type A method might work. Reality is, in the overwhelming vast majority of church settings, such an approach will merely result in one being shown the highway. It’s that simple. The American experience does not breed compliance in everyday life much less in the life of the local church.

    Don’t know that it is a matter of discipleship. Do consider it more of a matter of trust and acceptance of authority. Very few church members trust anyone including a pastor with information that almost anyone would consider strictly private and personal. It is about like expecting someone to talk about their personal health/medical issues. One would be at ease sharing such intimate details with Jesus. But with a pastor or anyone else … extremely unlikely.

    As far as serving in the church, buy-in is not listed in the New Testament as a criteria for any service. No where are we told that those who pay the bills are to call the shots. Certainly such concern would help place financially committed people in critical places of leadership. That is all.

    Disgruntled members will be with us until Gabriel’s trumpet blows. No amount of screening either by finances, etc. will eliminate them, nor should they be eliminated … but listened to and ministered to. That’s how it was done when some complained in Acts 6, etc. As to this being a hill worth dying for … agree … not.

  3. A wise old pastoral mentor years ago told me that in conflict situations giving can be an important key to understanding exactly what’s happening with a disgruntled member. If you have a member that has an issue with some issue in the church, giving can give you some idea about their motive. A “controler” will often use giving as a crowbar. One of the first things they will do (but not always I might add) is lower or even stop their giving. A faithful member who has an honest concern will seldom use giving as a tool. As a pastor for over 37 years, in certain situations, I would ask the treasurer or financial secretary if there had been any change in an individual member’s giving. I was not interested in the amount but interested in change. This was a good indicator of motive. I found this dear old pastor’s advice to be very helpful.

  4. So the widows mite would disqualify her from being a part of this team! The love of money like gan green to a Ministry….. sound more like some impastors have invaded the Body of Christ…. Ever heard of the old “Shepherding movement!”
    Kind of sounds like a precurser to me. Do you want your bank statements revealed? Does that qualify you for greater ministry with a bigger check!We have gotten so smart in justifying building our Kingdoms and making our disciples that God rarely shows up at Churches. Oh yea bigger tithes and offerings lead to bigger salaries too! Ichabod!

  5. Art,
    What a “risky” and helpful article. I think it is hilarious to read the comments in other places from people who are adamantly opposed to it. As a pastor whose church determines that a lay person should know and record gifts but the pastors should not, I have often marveled at the inconsistency. It is expected that a pastor could and should know and even help a person to repent of such sins as sexual immorality, marriage problems, and other issues such as chemical dependency, post-abortive counseling, etc. It is not suspected that a pastor would ever treat a sinner differently in these instances; however, if he knew a person were a robber (Malachi 3) the pastor would be somehow overwhelmed with the knowledge and respond sinfully by demonstrating favoritism? He would be expected to do backgrounds on children’s workers to guard against pedophiles, but not see giving records to guard against thieves?

    I don’t have a desire to see what John and Mary give. If I did, I would still serve them and shepherd them…only with more insight into their spiritual maturity. Still, my church has its own views and I am ok living within those boundaries…but seriously people…isn’t the inconsistency of the view almost laughable?