Money is a topic that often makes people uncomfortable, including pastors.
The question of whether or not pastors should know their church members’ giving records is frequently discussed. Some pastors consider it wise to have access to members’ giving as it helps guide discipleship and lay leader efforts. For example, they use giving records to help determine whether or not a church member is suitable to lead a finance committee (a group that provides accountability for the management of the church’s financial resources).
While some pastors do have access to giving records, primarily for discipleship and leadership selection, many pastors shy away from viewing church members’ giving records.
Here are a few reasons why:
- They don’t want to be perceived as showing favoritism. They don’t want other church members to assume that those who give the most money to the church get special treatment. If this perception is prevalent, it can hurt their ability to lead those of lesser means.
- They don’t want to actually show favoritism. They know their heart. And they know that they will be tempted to cater to those who give most to the church. So they guard themselves from these temptations by setting up policies that prevent them from accessing giving records.
- They don’t want to be lumped in to a small group of pastors that abuse their influence. There are a few pastors out there who have used their position to manipulate church members. While the vast majority of pastors do not do this, they want to avoid being grouped with those who do.
- They want to focus on other aspects of ministry, like preaching. They feel like a focus on money distracts them from what they deem to be more important.
- They have heard from many peers to avoid it. Their friends in ministry are staying away from giver information and recommending that others do the same. So they do.
What about you? If you are a pastor, what is your preference and why? And if you are a layperson, what is your preference and why?