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:
1. They don’t want to be perceived as showing favoritism. They don’t want other church member to assume that those who give the most money to the church get special treatment. If this perception is prevalent, it may hurt their ability to lead those of lesser means.
2. 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 do not allow them to have access to giving records.
3. 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 their members. While the vast majority of pastors have never done this, they do not want to be grouped with those who do.
4. 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.
5. 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.
There are certainly reasons for and against knowing member giving records. Pastors are tasked with shepherding the church God has given them. Ultimately, it is their and their church’s decision on whether or not such knowledge helps or hurts their ability to lead their church well.