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A recent study found that churches where pastors know how much is donated and by whom were more likely to be doing well financially. However, only half of the 3,000 responding congregations (and only 39 percent of evangelical ones) told the Lake Institute ...

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Displaying 1–20 of 20 comments

Raymond Swenson

May 18, 2013  5:30pm

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no leader or teacher at the congregational or regional level receives any material compensation. The people who receive and deposit donations and tithes know that none of it will go into their own pockets. All donations are deposited directly to a central LDS Church.bank account, and all costs for maintenance and operation of the local congregation is disbursed on an equal budget to every congregation, regardless of the donations originating there. Donations are made outside of any church meeting, in small opaque gray envelopes that are handed quietly to the "bishop" who pastors the congregation. The envelopes are opened in the presence of at least two financial clerks who record them so a cumulative record can be given to the donor for use in claiming a charitable deduction from income tax. No plate is passed, so no other member of the.congregation knows what you have donated.

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audrey ruth

May 12, 2013  9:05am

I also totally agree with Gary Moore and Michael Emerson. I've personally seen what they're talking about.

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audrey ruth

May 12, 2013  9:03am

No. Jesus said for us to give in secret. In the churches I've attended in which pastor(s) kept a record of members' giving, they invariably became very positive toward members who "gave enough" and negative toward those who didn't, even those who were tithing but not giving much extra. The tithe was also taught as being "required" of NT Christians, though the only admonition about giving in the NT is that "God loves a cheerful giver".

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Nerina Smith

May 09, 2013  6:08am

I totally agree with Gary Moore and Michael Emerson.

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Jim Ricker

May 08, 2013  7:39pm

Are we discussing one single elder of the multiple elders we are supposed to have leading each flock or are we talking about a preacher?

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J G

May 08, 2013  9:08am

If church leaders knew the names and addresses of men in their flocks who were abusing their families, they would take action. Such leaders do (or could) know this information for heads of families who are "members in good standing" but are not giving to the church. Why are sins of omission more acceptable than sins of commission? And even if the problem is not sin, but ignorance, immaturity, or financial stress, keeping this information anonymous prevents leaders from being pastors, either to correct bad behavior, build mature behavior, or support a financially distressed family. I agree that there is a risk of the leaders becoming men-pleasers, but spiritual leaders face many risks from confidences they alone have as they do their jobs. We should not try to "protect" them in such a way that they cannot be pastors. And, the idea of anonymity in giving is not particularly biblical: Jesus SAW the the amount of the widow's mite, Moses saw who brought jewels

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Earl Brubaker

May 07, 2013  12:17pm

I saw a church nearly destroyed because its pastor used comparative giving as his means of deciding which side to support during a church dispute. I have had church members demand more influence on the basis of their generous giving. I experienced an elder who gave almost noting to the church seek to control and cause great distress to the church. There are hazards in every approach, but I think that a good biblical standard is that people should be taught, but not coerced to give, and that a generous heart is part of the total package of character qualifications for church leaders.

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Tim Nickels

May 07, 2013  6:57am

Having been a treasurer in a couple of places, I can say that while there are those who are obviously wealthy, and give accordingly, in many cases the giving can be really surprising. I can think of the businessman who was a "Christmas and Easter" kind of attender who was one of the largest givers to one church. Or the women who didn't have an affluent lifestyle who had I suspect inherited a large sum and passed it through to the church. Together they represented over 20% of our income (in a 200+ adult congregation). Our minister would have no idea what they were doing. At the same time there were those with flash cars and big houses who gave pretty modestly. As treasurer I made the point that giving may well be coming from unexpected sources as God challenges, but I had to personally fight hard to not be judgemental of those who gave very little from larger incomes when the church was struggling. Sparing the pastor that was IMHO a real benefit.

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William Markham

May 07, 2013  5:47am

Every Christian should give faithfully, generously, and regularly to the needs that God lays on their hearts. I know many that give generously to those in great need, missionaries that are independent or with other organizations, and to their local church. The local church does not necessarily come first. Why should all our money go to organizations that are obsessed with building more buildings and looking good?Doesn't the local church have better things to do that analyze giving data? How about energizing their church by equally emphasizing discipleship, community, and mission? Leadership is moving a group of people in a particular direction for a great cause. Most churches I've attended are little more than clubs that take care of their members and talks a lot about the poor, the lost, the unwanted, and the shunned, but does little about it.

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Jim sparks

May 07, 2013  12:21am

No, it is not the pastor's place to know how much a person is, or is not, giving. Giving is not necessarily a sign of "spiritual maturity", it could just as easily be a form of "fire insurance" and "cleansing one's conscience". Pastor's are to love all equally. Minister to all equally. Encourage and teach all equally. Knowing how much a person gives can, and most probably will, get in the way of that. "Oh no. We have to do what person X says because they give 10% of our annual budget". Of course, in Australia, where giving to the church is NOT tax-deductable, no records are kept of "who gives what". I wonder whether or not if America took away the tax deductability of giving to churches, anyone would put their name on their gifts, but instead give anonomously, as Jesus told us to. And Bert, I think that you mean 2 Corinthians, not 2 Chronicles.

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Jeff Estes

May 06, 2013  9:21pm

I personally don't mind whether my pastor knows how much or not; if he can do math, he knows how much 10% is. But when I joined this church, the statement was made that no-one's giving was ranked above anyone else's - There would be no names on buildings to dedicate a major contribution, etc. And I'm perfectly happy with that. A stark contrast to a church where I grew up when they published every family's contribution to all the members at the end of the year. That was when my father stopped going.

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Wanda Cooper

May 06, 2013  8:01pm

My husband and I are pastor and co-pastor of our church and have been so for almost 22 years now. It is an invasion of one's "free-will offering, and giving (tithing), to KNOW what they are giving. We teach consistently and clearly on God's will and purpose for giving to the ministry' and leave the results to the congregants! It has worked tremendously-focusing the attention on the GIVING and LOVING that God does to and for us-this motivates them to give! The only time we inquire about one's giving is, and someone has already commented on this-is when a member is being considered as a leader or minister-in this case, they must ABSOLUTELY be tithers and generous givers. How else can one be an effective and productive example for others if they do not the follow the pattern and mandates that has been set forth by their God and Pastors. To those giving with cash-KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS!

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Bert Warden

May 06, 2013  7:03pm

It seems to me that the nomination committees for the election of pastors and elders should be made aware of the giving pattern of each candidate they are considering and eliminate any who do not follow the pattern of giving outlined by Paul in 2 Chron. 8 & 9. It is unconscionable that stingy givers have rule over generoua ones.

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Grady Walton

May 06, 2013  5:20pm

This is not meant as a criticism of pastors (well, maybe a little), but my experience has been that many people in the congregation know the identity of the big donors in a church, even when those donors try to keep the exact amounts of their donations confidential. This is especially true in relatively smaller communities where people know who has money and who doesn’t. Pastors are not immune from the phenomena of being able to sniff out big donors. Sadly, I have watched some pastors pay a bit more attention to the big donors in their congregations. I don’t believe most pastors intentionally play favorites based on wealth, but it is human nature to do so. On the other hand, the success of fundraising and capital campaigns for projects to spread the gospel requires that church leaders have at least some idea about the financial capacity of the congregation. It is a delicate balance.

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DUANE Watts

May 06, 2013  2:39pm

Honestly, having watched it over the years, I believe the church can be a pretty poor example of "have faith". Certainly the church should make it's needs known and the needs of allied ministries: missions, relief etc. Ultimately, if needs are not met, the church would be shuttered. It's still in God's providence to provide for The Church, including every little and mega-congregation. How many times over the years, in various denominations and non-denominations have I seen staff in the front of the Church doing a temple talk, hands ringing sweaty, preaching tithing to people who don't know how they are going to get their needs met. "Have faith in God, He will supply your needs. But if you don't tithe, the roof will leak, Africans won't have the Gospel preached to them and neighbors will go hungry." That sounds harsh, even to me. I just think the church could use a little of it's own medicine. Have Faith. Fear Not. God Is Now Here.

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Brian Jorgensen

May 06, 2013  2:27pm

I have spent many years as Church treasurer. I strongly advise all congregations, pastors, and denominations to maintain absolute confidentiality on behalf of anyone who contributes financially. No matter how sincere, pastors and other church leaders will be clouded in their wisdom and discernment if they have this kind of knowledge. For my own part (and my fellow auditors) it becomes 98% transparent about who gives what but let me emphasize, no one is immune from the emotions involving money. Likewise, if at all possible, treasurers and fellow auditors should not be involved in confidential deaconal decisions. This advice is not just for the benefit of pastors, it is of great benefit to contributors as well. Most importantly it does honor to our Lord if we avoid the color of money in making decisions on His behalf. Beware of contributors who wish to have their offerings published.

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DUANE Watts

May 06, 2013  2:27pm

Give in secret, not letting your left hand know what your right and is doing [don't even be self-conscious in your giving lest you be either puffed up with pride, or self-judging - my take]. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. I can't interpret anyone in a congregation intentionally revealing what someone else is giving as anything other than meddling with that which is between the Lord and his servant. The church can have blind envelopes available, identifying a giver with a number so that in the end, only the secretary or bookeeper sending out giving statements for tax purposes knows the annual giving of that individual.

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LESLIE HOLMES

May 06, 2013  2:13pm

For pastors not to know who gives and how much is a pseudo-spiritual unrealistic principle. Jesus certainly knew what the widow put in the temple offering versus what the rich put in. The amount a church member gives, especially if they use checks or other bank means for their giving, is known to the person at the bank who posts their account information (often a clerical level employee), by the IRS and the state revenue department (assuming one takes a tax deduction from their gifts) and the person who posts the financial records at the church (also often a clerical level employee). Most important of all, God knows. Why, then, would the pastor, called to each member's soul physician, know? For a pastor not to want to know is a sign of lack of true spiritual leadership.

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THE REV DR LARRY D Ellis

May 06, 2013  1:29pm

I believe that the temptation to know who gives how much is too great for most pastors to resist, when given the opportunity. It is a terrible burden for whoever is keeping the church giving records as well. Knowing how much someone gives to a particular church is very myopic and at best would tempt someone to draw conclusions without any legitimate foundation for their opinions. Many people give to more than one Christian ministry and that is as it should be. Many times someone is so burdened by financial needs of those they love that they wisely make the choice to meet those needs, in a way that is very pleasing to Christ. The role of the pastor is not to be the doctor for the congregation who selects individualized unsolicited treatment for spiritual maladies of each parishoner as they intuit them based on limited information. His or her role should be to point the congregation to the truth about giving as outlined in the New Testament.

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micah hurt

May 06, 2013  10:48am

I avoid this all together by giving cash only and not having it connected to me in anyway. So, if my Pastors knows who gives, he has no idea if I am or not.

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