Should Churches Monitor Members' Giving?

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Jim's picture

I would like to see churches spell out their policy on this.

 

  • Obviously someone(s) have to know. At the very least the Financial Secretary knows (makes sense to me)
  • Counters have some sense because they see the checks. But I doubt they keep any kind of record that goes beyond the batch count (I suppose if someone drops a check in for $ 5000 ... a counter will make a mental note of it.)
  • If the Pastor or Pastoral staff review giving records (and it may make sense for them to do this), that fact should be spelled out so donors are aware
Dick Dayton's picture

I know of a very fine and Biblical church where the pastor was fully aware of people's giving.  It was their conviction that a person's financial stewardship was a good indicator of their spiritual vitality.  If a person's giving was anemic, this indicated either a financial or a spiritual problem.  In either case, the pastor felt that he should have that information so that he could more effectively minister to his families.

 

During the Cold War era, I knew of East German pastors who wanted this information for the same reason.  If a family was suffering financially, the church wanted to step up and help.  If a family was becoming careless, the pastor needed to challenge them.

 

In my 37 years of ministry, I have chosen not to know the details of people's giving. I am sure that a family's giving is one measure of their spiritual vitality, and I preach on faithful stewardship, but have chosen not to know.  In our present ministry, there are probably some people who meet the pollster's evaluation that evangelicals give about 2 %, but it is my suspicion that most of our people are very faithful.

 

I have challenged our people with this statement : "If your income next year was 10 times your giving this past year, would you get a raise or would you lose your house and be homeless ?" 

 

I agree with Jim that, if a church were to adopt the policy that the pastor know the giving that this must be a policy that is well thought out, well communicated, and well documented.

Dick Dayton

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

How would anyone know if someone giving was 'anemic'? You'd have to know the person's income, wouldn't you?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Dick Dayton wrote:

I know of a very fine and Biblical church where the pastor was fully aware of people's giving.  It was their conviction that a person's financial stewardship was a good indicator of their spiritual vitality.  If a person's giving was anemic, this indicated either a financial or a spiritual problem.  In either case, the pastor felt that he should have that information so that he could more effectively minister to his families.


I think if I were a part of this church (assuming I didn't leave), I would switch my giving to all cash, and give up the tax benefit rather than have my giving monitored.

And as Susan mentioned, would they be asking me for my income?

Does the pastor also provide his giving records and income (though this is already public in many churches) as part of the financial report? If not, I'd advise running away from this at high speed...

Dave Barnhart

BrandonM's picture

We are blessed at our church with a group of elders that do not care and never have asked about offering reports and records.

Our pastor always makes the point that Christians should give, but makes it clear that he doesn't know and doesn't want to know how much people give.

In our church, we make it a point to keep it to as few people as possible. There are at most 3 or 4 people (all on the finance committee) who could know if they wanted to. I have no desire to know, either. That's between that person and the Lord.

Dan Burrell's picture

Why is money the one area of a church member's life that is outside of accountability?  Could this be yet another indication of the pedestal (aka "idolatry") of money in our culture?  If I had a deacon or elder or Bible study leader or youth worker or many other positions who never came to church, who had a drinking problem, who screamed at their wife and kids or abused them physically, who had a gossipping problem, who refused to pray or evangelize ever or many other issues that are matters of spiritual obedience, etc... should I also "turn a blind eye to it" and refuse to know what they are doing?  Why is money so special?

If someone wants to say, "Well, the pastor might show favoritism?"  I would ask several questions?  What else would there be in my character or his character wherein we would immediately assume that if he were privy to that information he would misuse it?  If someone tells him the pastor he's addicted to porn during counseling, maybe the pastor will blackmail him?  I guess no one should get private counsel from a pastor.  Is the pastor really so ignorant that he can't tell who the wealthy people are simply because of the car they drive or where they live or what they do for a living.  Why wouldn't he "prefer" these people also.  And what "favoritism" might he bestow on the rich person?  Preferred seating?  A three-free-sins-a-week coupon?  Maybe a regular "audience" with the pastor?  (I realize I'm being fairly sarcastic, but I prefer to think of it as hyperbole.)

Would any pastor really want to take counsel from deacons or elders who did not give to the church?  What about staff pastors who don't give?  Is that acceptable?  If that's between "them and the Lord" then shouldn't the number of hours they work or their internet viewing habits or church attendance also be part of that?  What if a deacon ONLY attends church on nights when there is a deacons meeting?  Is that between them and the Lord?  What kind of financial credibility would people have to offer if they never gave to the church?

When someone goes out of their way to be a blessing at church through giving a lot of time or opening up their home or serving in a difficult capacity, I have frequently expressed appreciation by way of a card or a phone call or a note or even a small gift.  So are we saying if someone gives generously and liberally that we should NOT express any appreciation for their gifts that have blessed the Body?

Again....I guess my point or question is, "Why is it that we treat money/giving as if it were some special big deal worthy of unusual care and treatment and deference"?  Could it be that we've adopted the World's love of/respect for/fear of money.  Or then again, we could just see it as a gift -- like that of giving time or sharing a talent.  After all....in heaven, all our gold will be good for is.....pavement. Biggrin

FTR....I never requested or received a regular report on what folks gave in any of the churches I've served, but neither have I kept myself blind to it.  I always asked if someone gave before we affirmed their leadership.  I would know when someone did something generous and I'd express my appreciation to them.  I also felt quite free to approach wealthy individuals when I knew of a need and would mention it to them.  Sometimes they helped with it and sometimes they didn't.  THEN it was between them and God.  I've been questioned about a lot of things over my 30 years of ministry.  Showing favoritism over money wasn't one of them.  It was just a non-issue.  Anyone who wants to give anonymously can always pitch cash in the offering plate.

Oh...one last thing.  My experience has confirmed that people who regularly and faithfully gave never had a problem with me knowing.  Others?  Yep...I heard from them.

 

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Would we think a church was blessed to have a group of elders that do not care and never ask about those who are not providing for their families (or whatever other command of scripture you want to put in here).

 

What would we think of a pastor who makes the point that Christians shouldn't fornicate (or whatever other command of scripture you want to put in here), but makes it clear that he doesn't know who might be fornicating and he doesn't want to know?

 

The core question is whether or not the Bible instructs NT believers to be giving to the local church. If it does, then you work out the rest of the details; if it doesn't, then the pastor has no business snooping into private lives.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Thanks Dan. You posted while I was posting but expressed my thoughts exactly.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Larry's picture

Moderator

Dick makes some very good points. Though I have never known what individuals give, I could find out if necessary. It is interesting to me that the knee-jerk reaction is "none of your business." Yet notice that there are no biblical perspectives being offered (are there?).

To Susan's question, income isn't that hard to figure out, at least generally speaking. If you know someone's occupation, and have been to their house, and know general information about them, it is fairly easy to know what income bracket they are in. In my church, I have never asked, but I could probably come within $10,000 of anyone by guessing. Where did we come up with the idea that income is private? I am not saying that's bad, but it came from somewhere.

To Brandon's point, I am not sure that it is a "blessing" to have elders who don't care and have never looked at offering reports and records. If giving is a biblical command (and I doubt anyone disputes that), then it doesn't seem wise to completely put our heads in the sand about it. How do those elders know whether or not their fellow elders are engaged in some form of idolatry that involves money? Or whether deacons are happy to have position and power without being willing to commit financially to the work of the gospel?

Where giving information would be useful (and really the only time I would use it), is in the case of a man nominated to be a pastor or deacon. In such a case, a thorough examination of a man's life and qualifications for ministry should include financial considerations (not a lover of money, self-controlled and thus not in debt, etc.). Furthermore, it would be important to know that a man supports the work of the church financially. I think it would be irresponsible to have an elder or deacon who was able to give but did not. A man who drives a brand new car and lives in a nice house but gave only $500 to the church in the previous year is unqualified. And the only way you will know that is if you ask.

Do you need to make it public? Isn't it already public? Do people really write checks with their names on them and think that no one will know that it was their check? Do people use envelopes with a number assigned to their name and think no one will know? Do they expect to get a tax receipt given to them with no name on them? No. I think Jim is wrong on that. The assumption is that when you give a check or an envelope someone is going to know. That's not rocket science or a mystery. No one gets their year end tax receipt and says, "I had no idea anyone knew what I was giving."

Now, if the elders are going to look into it for the purpose of considering a man for elder or deacon, then it would likely be wise to tell them in the initial interview that part of the consideration is financial management, debt, credit, giving, etc. It wouldn't be unwise to run a credit check on a person as well. Many churches does this when considering a pastor (and all should do it). It only makes sense.

I wonder if part of the issue here is that we have bought into an individualistic scheme of Christianity where certain things in our personal lives are ruled as none of anyone else's business. I see no biblical merit for this, but it should be at least questioned.

 

Jim's picture

Good comments both of you

 

I agree that financial stewardship is a part (and probably a big part) of the Christian life. So I would not be offended if my Pastor asked me about my giving.

 

My own view is that the church's policy should be documented and public (my first post)

 

Now about the giving records and the problem of knowing - what does the record tell and what doesn't it?!

 

  • It doesn't tell the giver's salary so doing the 10% calculation really doesn't do anything (I think Susan said this earlier). So suppose the aggregate annual gift is $ 5,000. Well that's great if the guy is making $ 50K. But you just don't know (unless we really want to get personal and ask members to submit W-2's, 1099's ... like the IRS!)
  • It doesn't tell the whole giving story. Aside from in-the-place, non-enveloped cash donations, it does not tell the whole story of giving ... suppose the giver gives $ 2 or 3K a year directly to a Bible college or to missionaries. Oh you might say that the Lord's tithe belongs in the storehouse (the local church)  but not everyone has that position.
  • Even the tithing position is not universally accepted. Some believe in grace giving that may be more or less than 10%. Consider that few churches actually have tithing spelled out in their doctrinal statements or church covenant.

Analogy alert: I commonly give blood every 6 or 8 weeks. Aside from the intrusive questions (I understand the need for them ... eg ... have you had sex with a man since 1974!) a cursory physical of sorts is administered:

  • Prick of the finger ... iron count
  • Blood pressure and pulse

That tells a story but it doesn't tell the whole story

 

Jim's picture

Larry said:

Do they expect to get a tax receipt given to them with no name on them? No. I think Jim is wrong on that. The assumption is that when you give a check or an envelope someone is going to know. That's not rocket science or a mystery. No one gets their year end tax receipt and says, "I had no idea anyone knew what I was giving."

I didn't actually say that. I said someone(s) know. I get that.

I also said: "If the Pastor or Pastoral staff review giving records (and it may make sense for them to do this), that fact should be spelled out so donors are aware"

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Totally agree with Jim that all church policies documented and public.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

  • OK suppose the Pastor looks at the giving records. And he goes down the list and sees that Member Bill only gave $ 3,000 last year.
  • He knows that Bill lives in a certain part of town (and by the way most housing information is public anymore ... check out zillow.com. In most major markets you can plug in an address (try it on your own!) and see that information). He can see that Bill's home is valued at $ 300,000 and that he paid $ 190,000 for it 20 years ago.
  • He's been in Bill's house and knows that the furniture is not shabby and that the kitchen has recently been remodeled.
  • Bill drives a late model car and the Pastor can guess the value of it (and perhaps even have a close idea of the purchase price)
  • The Pastor knows something about Bill's career. He's an engineer for a Fortune 500 company. The Pastor surmises that Bill has to be making close to $ 100,000 a year
  • And now the giving record ... only $ 3,000!

Now what will said Pastor do with that information?

  • Will he personally confront Bill?
  • or will he just keep him off the deacon board?

It would seem to me that the right thing to do would be to personally confront Bill.

Now I've been a Pastor. I've never done that. I wouldn't even be comfortable sitting down with a member and laying out the facts: "you're a miser! I know it because I know the value of your home, the value of your car, and I can probably guess within  $10,000 your annual salary."

 

Are their pastors here who have done this? Feel comfortable doing this? Would want to do this? Is this the tool the pastor uses?

 

 

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

there are people who give cash and don't put their name on the envelope. So does the pastor demand that everyone document their giving so that it can be tracked?

BTW, I don't buy the idea that someone can figure out how much someone makes by looking at their house and neighborhood and cars and where they work. Some people do very well with very little because they are very frugal.

Would the church also expect people to tithe on gifts, and whenever they sell something? Should church members turn in an account of the proceeds of their last garage sale?

I'm not saying that faithful giving is not important, but I just can't imagine what tracking tithes and offerings would look like.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Susan R wrote:

BTW, I don't buy the idea that someone can figure out how much someone makes by looking at their house and neighborhood and cars and where they work. Some people do very well with very little because they are very frugal.

Or, what's more likely

—that all of his toys are financed and he has no room left for giving, even if he wanted to.

(This describes a large percentage of people.)

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Barry L.'s picture

.  
Mat 6:1 ¶ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 

Mat 6:2   Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 

Mat 6:3   But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 

Mat 6:4   That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee 

 

I take these verses seriously, and I'm not alone. Many well to do members will give cash or cashiers checks and deny themselves a charitable deduction to avoid the possibility of receiving glory of men which includes their pastors.   I don't see scripture making a pastoral exception on keeping it secret. The fact that a pastor knows you are a big giver and approaches you for help, unknowingly is giving you glory. He came to you and not others will tempt feelings of pride by that giver rather than grace.  Large givers can wrongfully have subtle influences over a ministry, even with the most spiritual pastors. If it weren't the case, there wouldn't be Matt 6:1-4.  

 I get some insight on fellow members' livelihoods because I help many of them with their taxes, both the smaller and larger incomes. If you think  by looking at their lifestyles you can figure out how much they make, you are naive. We have a member that makes $500K a year, but drives a 15 year old automobile and lives in a $140K house. I know of a member who make $35K a year and drives a late model mercedes and lives in a $200K house. A business owner can have a couple great years financially and then make nothing the next. If you could see his giving for that year, would you assume he is declining spiritually, even though he has the same house, car, etc?

If you are going to assume that members who don't want their pastors to know how much they give are not giving appropriately, then I will assume that pastors that want to know what their parishioners give are doing so out of a need for control rather than their "spiritual well-being". For you see, if you are serious about their spiritual condition with regard to stewardship, would you not analyze all their finances? Wouldn't you also be concerned and want to know the details of how they spend the other 90% and not just the part that benefits the ministry?  To feel there is some a gauge to their spirituality by the $$ they give and not know anything else about their finances is ludicrous. 
 

Larry's picture

Moderator

To Jim,

My "Jim's wrong" statement was about the idea that policies should be made public. I think they already are public by default.

In addition, I think general policies are, generally speaking, bad ideas. They force everyone into a mold that doesn't matter to most of them and handcuffs leaders when it comes time to lead. Lawyers and managers like policies because they make things easy. Leaders don't like them because they make it hard to adapt to things. Simply put, most people will never be affected by this "policy" so why make it?

Larry Osborne says this: When making policies, ask How likely is it? and How disastrous will it be if it happens? He builds a grid that perhaps I will create and upload, but essentially it is this:

  • Unlikely/no big deal - Ignore it, no policy
  • Unlikely/disastrous - Loose policy
  • Likely/no big deal - Ignore it, no policy
  • Likely/disastrous - Firm policy

Here's a couple of other things from Osborne on this general topic: When one sailor drowns, have a funeral for a dumb sailor. When three sailors drown, make a new policy.

He also said "If one person calls you a donkey ignore it. It two people call you donkey, look in the mirror. If three people call you a donkey, get saddle." Not really related, but a bit humorous and helpful.

Policies are what causes first graders to get kicked out of school for having a two inch plastic soldier with a gun in his bookbag. It's stupid, and it should have never been made. But it was easier to have a blanket policy than to deal with people as people.

 

To your illustration, yes, I would talk to him and keep him off the deacon board, and explain to him why. If he has some good reason, it would be taken into account. There may be a good reason, such as a medical disaster or something. And if he has a good reason, he probably won't care if you know, and if you talk to him about it. A few years ago, we had a situation here where a guy told me up front that his giving would be less in the coming year.

To the issue of favoritism that several have raised, first, if a pastor shows favoritism it may be a sign of character issues that disqualifies him anyway. Second, we all show favoritism. It's not necessarily wrong. I do not treat all opinions the same. There are some that matter more for various reasons.

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

To Susan,

No, you don't demand that everyone do it a certain way. Again, firm policies make for good management but bad leadership.

Yes, you can roughly tell what a person makes by how they live, unless they live very frugally and look like they make a lot less than they do. (I know people like this). But generally, people who look like they make a lot of money either do make a lot of money or have bad money management practices. But no one lives like a millionaire on minimum wage, no matter how frugal they are. Asking about gifts and yard sales is misleading and irrelevant. Again, you don't make a firm policy about this. Use common sense. 

Again, my guess is that most people don't care a lot of about this, and many who do probably do so for all the wrong reasons. I can't imagine objecting to a pulpit committee who wanted to investigate my finances. You want to know where I spend my money, ask. You want to run a credit check, tell me.

To me this all goes to how seriously we take the qualifications for church office. To determine if someone is qualified, we have to ask questions and check in the areas that would make them disqualified.

You want know if a deacon is "fond of sordid gain" without checking. Or if he manages his household well without checking (and finances are a part of household management). Tough? Sure, but why have qualifications if we get to ignore the ones that are "too personal"?

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:

Susan R wrote:

BTW, I don't buy the idea that someone can figure out how much someone makes by looking at their house and neighborhood and cars and where they work. Some people do very well with very little because they are very frugal.

Or, what's more likely

—that all of his toys are financed and he has no room left for giving, even if he wanted to.

(This describes a large percentage of people.)

And this is a great example of one kind of person who needs pastoral leadership.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Someone asked above why money should be the one thing that is outside of accountability (I forget if it was accountability to the local church, the pastor or whom exactly). But this is not the case. There is a great deal of all of church members lives that is not "accountable," in the sense of "known to the pastor(s)/elders or other church leaders." 

A few examples:

  • what members do with all their time.
  • How they handle family disagreements.
  • What they watch on television.
  • What language they use when not at church functions.

The list goes on. There is much that is, thankfully, between people and God. So I guess I'm turning the question around. Why ​shouldn't​ money be a matter that is between the believer and God?

There may be some good answers to that question, but I do think that's the better question. 

To say it another way: not everything that is spiritually significant is supposed to be known to church leaders and considered confrontable by church leaders. So what criteria do we use for deciding what is "accountable" and what is not? Figure that out and then we can run the giving question through the grid.

Larry's picture

Moderator

A few examples:

  • what members do with all their time.
  • How they handle family disagreements.
  • What they watch on television.
  • What language they use when not at church functions.

So you would allow a man to hold church office without knowing much about his personal life? All of these things are connected to the qualifications for church office.

Why ​shouldn't​ money be a matter that is between the believer and God?

Obedience in clear matters is never just between a believer and God. When it comes to church office (the issue I am addressing), it has even greater import.

So what criteria do we use for deciding what is "accountable" and what is not?

The Bible seems really helpful here. When the Bible talks about a man who (among other things) is self-control, not greedy, manages his household well, it is biblical to look into how he handles money to see if he is qualified.

I am not suggesting a deep level audit of a life. Let's just ask if he is faithful and generous to the work of the church. If he's not, do you really want him to be a leader over people who are? Can you really hold him up as a model?

 

dmicah's picture

Larry, glad you quoted Osborne. He's a good leader with good insights for the church.

Limitations for knowledge of giving should be applied to leadership. No one should be in a position of organizational direction, staff or non-vocational, who is not committed financially to the work of the church. This doesn't speak to amount & percentages, but to "shouldering the load of ministry" together. 

As to the non-leading flock, it's like someone mentioned, we don't spy out what they do with their time, their viewing of media, etc. Those things should be addressed through small groups and general interaction and a process of accountability, but not via policy. It's a matter of personal growth/maturity and sanctification. 

A practical tool we've implemented at our church is to break the church into giving units statistically. Then analyze how much giving per unit occurs. We discovered that there were some areas for major improvement in giving. And thus we were able to teach from  the pulpit without specific knowledge as to who was giving light, but that it was obvious there was light giving and the body needed to respond as a matter of spiritual growth, not guilt.

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

For starters, the question was whether or not church leadership should monitor member's giving, not about the financial habits of the leadership itself. 

I agree with the 9Marks blog post that leadership and laity should be encouraging, mentoring, and to some degree accounting one to another in all areas of faith and practice. This would include solid teaching about tithes and offerings, charity and hospitality, thrift and debt, caring for widows, etc...

I also agree that proof of such is a requirement for leadership. However, proof of financial responsibility, tithing, etc... is not a Biblical 'requirement' for every Christian as much as it is a goal, a growth in grace. Leadership is to have reached a certain level of spiritual maturity in conduct and discernment in order to be able to exemplify the doctrine they proclaim. 

One thing we do not want to encourage is an atmosphere of Big Brother-ism in the church, where members and leadership investigate and spy on each other to try to find out who is or is not doing what. I've been to a church like that, and it is a Very Scary Place. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Susan R wrote:

For starters, the question was whether or not church leadership should monitor member's giving, not about the financial habits of the leadership itself. 

I agree with the 9Marks blog post that leadership and laity should be encouraging, mentoring, and to some degree accounting one to another in all areas of faith and practice. This would include solid teaching about tithes and offerings, charity and hospitality, thrift and debt, caring for widows, etc...

I also agree that proof of such is a requirement for leadership. However, proof of financial responsibility, tithing, etc... is not a Biblical 'requirement' for every Christian as much as it is a goal, a growth in grace. Leadership is to have reached a certain level of spiritual maturity in conduct and discernment in order to be able to exemplify the doctrine they proclaim. 

One thing we do not want to encourage is an atmosphere of Big Brother-ism in the church, where members and leadership investigate and spy on each other to try to find out who is or is not doing what. I've been to a church like that, and it is a Very Scary Place. 


This last paragraph is also what I was mentioning that I would avoid by my very short post above. A monitoring environment is quite different from an environment of accountability, even though the former is often justified by explaining the need for the latter. God would have to do a pretty large work in my heart and convince me that it absolutely was his will to ever have me accept a church where everything is monitored in the name of counseling and accountability. I think it engenders the wrong kind of environment and atmosphere in the church.

However, since Larry brought it up, even at our church, we vet deacons for as best we can, all of the categories mentioned in scripture. As far as financial responsibility, we run each name by the financial secretary (the only one who ever sees giving totals) to find out if they are regular givers. No one's income is checked exactly against what they give, since we don't have their incomes, but the amount given is checked basically against the median income for the area, taking into account what we know about what the person does for a living, etc. It's a very general check. I don't even know the amounts that qualify or disqualify. I have been a deacon, but I have never had access to the financial statements, giving or income, of any member of our church other than myself, and I wouldn't want that. Obviously, everyone in the church gets the financial statement and see what the pastor(s) are paid, just as they can see every item in the budget, though their giving is also not known.

I have served on a pulpit committee as well, and we did run a criminal background check and credit check against those who made it to the "last round" before we presented one to the congregation, but even the credit and criminal checks are only to make sure they haven't had real problems with money or the law that couldn't be explained, not to see what their income was or whether they gave in accordance, or anything like that.

I'm not sure what the best way to keep accountability in several areas in our lives is, but it's pretty clear there are areas all of us would draw a line, such as our relationships with our spouses -- there are things there that really shouldn't be discussed by anyone except the couple in front of the Lord. I would say that if the leadership of a church is desiring to know my income and giving, I would expect to see the same from each of them. They should, after all, lead by example.

I have gone through a couple years in my life where I gave my entire tithe in cash, which would have been hard to trace exactly. I wanted to see if, for those years, I could budget everything and not use credit or checks, which can go over appropriate amounts very quickly. Of course, since I was at a small church, it would have been pretty obvious that money approximately equal to what was coming in before was being received. I'm pretty sure some might have had my name on it, and some not. However, as one other poster mentioned, I can't see how anonymous giving would go against what scripture teaches. If alms are given in secret, they can't be checked by leadership, and that would be that. If they would decide that a person who they couldn't track shouldn't be in leadership, then so be it, but they would not be able to determine a person's spiritual state in regard to money by the lack of records.

Like most areas of our lives, I believe discipleship and accountability should be accomplished in smaller groups of believers, who can really establish accountability with one another, not simply a top-down, leadership-keeps-everyone-accountable-while-not-being-held-to-account-by-lowly-members model.

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

Just to be clear, my comments were always about those nominated for leadership positions.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Our giving is to the Lord through the church or various other ministries. It is to be done of our own will (God through Paul says to give willingly) which means not compelled by another which rules out being monitored by and accounting to others, when and how much we give. It is part of the privacy of the Priesthood.

The failure to discriminate public acts which the church may rightly monitor for membership and private acts in which it provides the context without interference and monitoring (singing hymns-i.e. Brother Bill you are not singing to the Lord enough) is what results in the presumptive but wrong any injurious acts to its members by ecclesiastical government.

The church is the means through which worshipful giving is done (primary) and it is a spiritual response unto the Lord, hence, such boundaries must not be encroached upon by personal monitoring and/or attempts to interfere with such private Priesthood matters through personal interference and directives. The Scriptures provide no precedence for such monitoring.

The church is not to be concerned with who gives what with respect to monitoring and the view it is licensed to approach people on the matter individually with commendation or correction (though records of giving both may and should be kept for other legitimate reasons). It has as its concern the holy and righteous use of the money it receives.

Ron Bean's picture

Bill was a rookie teacher in the Christian school. Each week he placed his cash offering in the plate. After a few months, the pastor approached Bill about his giving (was he or wasn't he and how much?). In a moment of ignorant boldness, Bill asked the pastor how much the pastor gave. Their relationship was somewhat strained after that.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

In addition to the risk of creating a Big Brother atmosphere, I've also seen attention to giving completely drain all the joy out of it. Not saying "leave it alone," but both OT and NT seem emphasize the beauty and joy of willing giving and there's a risk that going after it in the wrong way will turn it into something more like paying taxes than giving. That would be sad.

Agree w/Larry in principle, though, that selecting leaders is a bit different from monitoring member giving generally and, as a category, it doesn't make sense (and isn't biblical) to exclude "finances" from the vetting process. It's just a question of how deep to drill, so to speak.