Another Look at Pastors and Giving Records

Should a pastor be concerned with and know details of what members of his flock give in the offering? Pastor Karl Weber offers one answer here, and that answer has generated a good amount of discussion in the comments to his post. In the interest of continuing the discussion, allow me to take another look, from a different angle, at pastors and giving records.

I certainly understand and respect Pastor Weber’s approach, as well as the heart-felt concerns that laypeople may have with their pastor knowing how much they give in the offering and, especially, with a pastor misusing that data. In fact, for many years I have shared Pr. Weber’s reticence at viewing offering records. I have given the same reasons and continue to be leery of the very temptations he mentions.

However, I would suggest that a pastor viewing and knowing the offering records of his members is not necessarily the sure-fire nosedive into sin and misuse that we might suspect. In fact, I submit that, done with responsibility and humility, such knowledge can and does aide the pastor in shepherding his flock.

A Matter of Christian Freedom

First, let’s admit that a pastor viewing and knowing what members of his flock give in the offering is neither commanded nor forbidden in Holy Scripture. I know of no clear passage in Scripture that actually tells a pastor, “Thou shalt not inform thyself of thy congregation’s offering data.” Hence, it is a matter of Christian freedom. And, as with all matters of Christian freedom, it may be practiced for better or for worse depending on the motive(s), integrity, and good sense of the individual pastor.

On the other hand, neither does Scripture command a pastor to view and know his congregation’s offering records. So I will not bind anyone’s conscience either way. However, I will give the gentle reminder that Jesus and the New Testament writers do teach us about money, not only dangers of dealing with it, but also ways to use it in a salutary fashion for the glory of God and to serve our neighbor.

Not Necessarily

Pastor Weber’s reason for not wanting to know how much his members give in the offering is that he knows the sin that lurks within his heart. He would not want to be tempted to pride or to showing partiality and catering to the higher givers. These are indeed valid concerns and should be acknowledged. Such pride and partiality should certainly be avoided in God’s flock in general and by pastors in particular.

However, let’s not forget that the faithful laypeople who serve as treasurers, who count the offerings, who record the dollar amounts, and who send out the year-end statements have the same sin lurking within their hearts and are also tempted in the same ways. Yet they are still trusted with such monetary information. We simply expect them to be discreet, responsible, and respectful regarding the various life situations and giving levels of their fellow Christians. Perhaps a pastor can also muster the same sanctified discretion, responsibility, and respect? Perhaps he can even model sensitivity and charity? After all, he likely knows other details of people’s life situations and daily deals in discretion, sensitivity, and charity.

An analogy may help. A pastor (or any Christian) could very well be tempted to drink too much wine and get drunk. Should he therefore avoid wine altogether? Not necessarily. Moderation, responsibility, and humility (i.e. knowing one’s limits) are key. The same is true for a pastor knowing the offering records of his congregation. The temptation to sin may certainly be there, but that does not necessarily mean that he will give in to that temptation. God-given moderation, responsibility, and humility are key.

Whence This Cloak of Secrecy for “My Money”?

Many a parishioner may say, “It’s my money. What I give in the offering is between me and God. It’s none of the pastor’s business.” But I ask: What is the real root of this cloak of secrecy regarding our God-given cash? Who says that “my” money-matters are “only between me and God”?

Could our desire to keep our cash under a cloak of secrecy actually be a 1 Timothy 6:10 problem? St. Paul says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

Could it be that we strive to keep money-matters secret, and out of the pastor’s view, because we actually love it far too much, more than we “fear, love, and trust in God”? Are we afraid that this misplaced love of money might just be exposed for what it really is: idolatry?

Could it be that we, pastors and laypeople alike, seek to keep our money-matters “only between me and God” because we have wandered from the faith and have an inordinate and idolatrous love of this mere medium of exchange? After all, money is only a convenient means of exchange. We all know everyone has some, in varying amounts, and we all know that we must use it on a daily basis. Why the mystique? Why the secrecy?

Could it be that we pastors actually encourage this sinful “love of money” and the piercing pangs it brings by tacitly agreeing to this hush-hush on what is really God’s cash? Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” My money is not “mine.” It belongs to God; He owns it. He merely calls me to manage it for Him so as to promote His Gospel and serve my neighbor. So what if other people happen to know how much of God’s money I give in the offering for God’s purposes in the congregation? (No, I don’t recommend shouting it from the housetops either. We must avoid the temptations to pride and partiality on that front too.)

Pastors and Money-Matters in Scripture

Some may claim that the pastor should not know the offering records of his members because he should focus instead on things spiritual. The pastor, they say, should not involve himself in money-matters whatsoever. This is nothing new. Dr. John H. C. Fritz addresses this in his Pastoral Theology (1932), when he discusses “Christian Giving”:

Some say that the financial affairs of the church are none of the pastor’s business; he should look only after the spiritual needs of the members and not meddle in money-matters. This is not as the Lord would have it. We learn from the Holy Scriptures that money-matters play a very important part in the spiritual life of God’s children. When in the church of Jerusalem financial troubles arose, the apostles did not say that this was none of their business, but called a meeting of the congregation and had the financial irregularities of the church adjusted, Acts 6, 1-4. (Pastoral Theology, 260)

We also have the example of St. Paul himself in 2 Corinthians 8-9. As he managed the relief fund drive for the famine-stricken Jerusalem church, he referred to the Macedonian Christians as he encouraged the Corinthian congregation to make good on its promised free-will offering. The apostle may not have mentioned a specific amount of money, but he apparently knew something of what the Macedonian congregation had given. He said, “their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).

St. Paul’s apparent knowledge of the Macedonian offerings allowed him to encourage the Corinthians to give generously as well. A pastor knowing his congregation’s offering amounts can very well be used for salutary purposes.

Pastoral Care via Offering Information

How might knowing what his members give in the offering aide a pastor in caring for the souls in his charge? Let’s consider some congregational and individual examples (by no means exhaustive).

Congregational Examples

  1. If a congregation is located in a wealthier town, or part of town, and many members are higher paid professionals (doctors, lawyers, business owners, etc.), but the offerings are quite low, the pastor may need to gear some of his preaching and teaching toward more generous giving in order that they, as a congregation, may serve their needy neighbors.
  2. If a congregation is located in a poorer town, or part of town, and the members give generously, even beyond their means, the pastor will certainly want to thank God and commend his congregation (as St. Paul did the Macedonian Christians in 2 Corinthians 8).
  3. If a pastor knows the giving records and patterns of his flock, he can properly advise them when it comes time to prepare the congregation’s annual budget. Perhaps the congregation needs to scale back its spending because the money just isn’t or won’t be there. Perhaps the congregation can give more generously to outside missions and charities because the money is or will be there.

Individual Examples

  1. If the offerings of a typically generous giver (individual or family) suddenly plummet, the pastor may rightly suspect that something has changed for that person or family. Perhaps one of his flock suddenly lost employment. Perhaps an elderly couple recently moved into a senior living facility (which sucks up their money!) and/or their adult children are managing their finances and don’t know or share their parents’ giving habits. Learning such details certainly helps the pastor apply the Word of God to the souls in his care.
  2. If the offerings of an individual or family are typically low or even non-existent, the pastor may see an opportunity to assist the poor and needy in his flock. Perhaps that individual or family just does not have much income from which to give. In that case aid from the congregation may be offered and could be very appreciated. Perhaps that individual or family wants to give more in the offering, but first needs help getting out of debt so that they can be better managers of God’s gifts. The pastor and congregation may want to find a way to address such needs.

The matter of a pastor knowing the giving records of his congregation is neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture. While such knowledge could tempt a pastor to sins of pride and partiality, he would not necessarily give in to such temptation. In fact, a faithful and godly pastor may very well use such information for responsible pastoral care.

About Pastor Randy Asburry

Pr. Randy Asburry serves as Senior Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, St. Louis, MO. In addition to earning his MA in Classics (Greek and Latin) from Washington University, St. Louis (1992), he also earned his STM in Systematic Theology from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (1998), writing on Luther’s view of faith in the Catechisms. He has written for Good News magazine and Concordia Publishing House, served on subcommittees for Lutheran Service Book, and has been a regular guest on Issues, Etc. He serves as regular fill-in host for KFUO's "Thy Strong Word" Bible study program, and now produces the podcast called Sacred Meditations.

Comments

Another Look at Pastors and Giving Records — 27 Comments

  1. I caught myself wondering in which sense the principle of Christian freedom would come into whether or not or to which extent a Pastor is free to monitor the giving of his parishioners. Does the principle of Christian freedom really make it right for the Pastor to do so or not to do so freely, as he chooses, based solely on his own personal preference?

    Or would the principle of Christian freedom also imply that parishioners should be free to give to their church and not have their their Pastor monitor their giving – as they might prefer very well prefer for many different reasons, some of them even legitimate ones?

    Would the principle of Christian freedom imply that parishioner’s should be free to give to their church without their giving being monitored by their Pastor without their consent?

    Would the principle of Christian freedom imply that parishioners should be free to give to their church and not have their Pastor monitor their giving without their knowledge?

    Would the principle of Christian freedom imply that the preferences of parishioners should somehow play a part in the decision as to whether or not their Pastor observes and analyses their giving?

    I feel somewhat uncomfortable about seeing this question as a matter of the Pastor’s Christian freedom, and his only …

  2. Thank you Randy. I too appreciate your perspective on this issue.

    My thoughts (mostly random – like my sermons).

    Does not a person who becomes a member of the congregation willingly put himself under the care of the pastor? Christian freedom is not freedom from the care and counsel of the pastor under whom you willingly put yourself when you joined the flock. Nor is it freedom from the obligations of vocation and stewardship. At the same time I understand that pastors must always be vigilant to use their authority for service and care of the flock, not power and might over the flock.

    Having read most of the comments on Pastor Weber’s post I ask some rhetorical questions:

    Could people not use all these same arguments with any aspect of life? My sexuality is between me and God. My business practices are between me and God. The time I spend (or don’t spend) with my wife and children is between me and God.

    Should I, as a pastor, not ask an engaged couple, “Are you having sex?”

    Should I not examine a husband’s life if he spends every weekend apart from his wife and children hunting or fishing?

    Should I not ask a family whose loved one is approaching life’s end how they are answering the ethical questions posed to them?

    Isn’t all of that “checking the records” part of spiritual care? It may not be written down in a ledger, but it is stewardship that may indeed give signs of spiritual sickness.

    I agree that because of my sinful nature all of this examining may cause pride or draw me toward certain members (or set me against others), but who ever said being a pastor wouldn’t be dangerous? That is why I need the prayers of my members, and the Word of God for myself, as I hear confession, walk among my flock, and examine their lives.

    Finally it strikes me as odd that there appears to be a hypersensitivity over the giving of monetary offerings and the knowledge that your pastor might know what you give. If you’re going to confession he knows the sins that trouble you and also delivers to you the forgiveness that absolves you. I don’t think you need to worry that the knowledge of your offerings will affect his care for you one bit.

  3. Pastor Asburry,

    Thank you for your fine article. It has been a good learning curve and I appreciate the kindness whereby you referenced me. Your article has been a needed addition, or, dare I say it, a needed corrective to my initial foray on this subject.

    Blessings,

    Pastor Karl Weber

  4. As a parishioner I always assumed that my Pastor would know what our family was giving. I never even considered the possibility that this information would (or could) be kept from him. I would think this information would be important for him in caring for my soul – like for those reasons in the article. As a Pastor – if you see me with a good job, nice car, house in an affluent neighborhood but I give less than a movie ticket every week shouldn’t this send some warning signs about the state of my faith. I think intentionally not knowing is a defensive mechanism to avoid a difficult conversation that probably needs to occur more often. Man up – these are people’s souls at stake! Is the risk of partiality really all that great? You know the hours various people give every week – do you really just see their children in the hospital? Time to talk about money – your boss did and he knew what everyone was giving!

  5. I struggle with this issue like many pastors do. I have chosen up to this point not to know the individual contributions of my parish. Some of my parish leaders want to enshrine this in our congregational constitution, which I strongly object to. In the history of my current congregation they used to publish…line by line…parishioner by parishioner…the amount given on a weekly basis on the back page of the bulletin! My home congregation published an annual financial book that listed what EVERYONE gave for the previous year…even the Sunday School and Day School children…this was up until 1971. It was nicknamed the “scandal book”. Randy makes a good point where he says that it isn’t just God who knows what individual contributions total…counters, financial secretaries, tax accountants, the IRS and anybody with a valid subpoena have access. I’m not in favor of going back to the old days and printing contribution books, but I think our so-called “right to privacy” has gone way to far in many ways and situations. This is within the realm of Christian liberty, and I would say that circumstances could dictate differing pastoral practice on this issue…

  6. In reading many of the comments, it surprises me that some pastors are so involved in the budgeting processes in their congregations. We, along with our three daughters’ families have wonderful pastors whom we would entrust with our last dime, yet not a single one of them is overly concerned with their respective congregational budgets. Nor do they have “emphasis Sundays” on stewardship, unless, of course, if it is in the reading. I have only heard a “mainly” stewardship sermon once in the last five years! Our pastors (three of them altogether, in different locales) are highly loved and respected by their members, and the churches never seem to have budget crises. Perhaps a strong sense of trust in their shepherd goes a long way. Of course, I do not mean in any way that the proper preaching and use of the Sacraments are not the most important reasons for that love and trust. However, I hope all who advocate this practice of looking at giving records, sometimes without the general knowledge of congregational members, realize the repercussions of breaking trust. I could see how that could lead to distrust of the pastor in other areas as well – private confession perhaps? I personally have confessed sins privately to my pastor without hesitation partly because I do trust him unconditionally. While the layperson may be the chief sinner in such cases, it is still difficult to rebuild trust, once broken.

  7. @Pastor Bruce Timm #4 “I don’t think you need to worry that the knowledge of your offerings will affect his care for you one bit.” Unfortunately, many many laypeople can testify that this has indeed happened. Hence, the “hypersensitivity.”

  8. @LadyM #9

    I tried to qualify that comment by stating in the relationship of a pastor who cares for his flock and among sheep who trust his ear to hear their confession and his tongue to speak absolution – in that relationship I hope/believe his knowledge of your offerings will not affect his care for you.

  9. As I worked my way through both Rev Weber’s and Rev Asburry’s thoughtful articles and all the comments (including my own), it became apparent that in my case the issues I have with a pastor knowing specifics of giving records actually have nothing to do with a Faithful, Confessional, Orthodox pastor. A pastor as I just described would be looking at such information from a truly concerned, Scriptural perspective. However, at least in my situation (and I believe perhaps the same is true for others), my lack of trust is based on multiple run-ins with pastors who cling to heterodox Church Growth practices. Such pastors can’t and shouldn’t be trusted since they routinely acknowledge that their focus is on growth, growth, growth. The distrust I have is perhaps misplaced and an unfortunate by-product of the mess that the LCMS is in.

    Also, this whole discussion can be reversed. A church member who knows that the pastor is aware of their tithing may fall prey to the same type of sin being discussed. A member who believes they are “generously” giving, but are being “neglected” in some way, can easily fall victim to pride and self-righteousness – they are giving for the wrong reason. That’s why it’s so important for all involved to remain Faithful to Scripture, Doctrine, and Practice (yes, I’m in the middle of reading Rev Klemet Preus’ “The Fire and the Staff”). When we all do so the trust is there!

  10. I find this discussion very interesting. Because of my own upbringing in the church, I would consider it unthinkable that a pastor look at individual giving records. I understand the arguments for the other side, but still find it unsettling. Lady M hit on something when she mentioned the issue of trust.
    If a pastor would come to me and say, “I have noticed that your giving to the church has dropped off considerably. Are you having any struggles that I can help you with?”, I think it would break a trust. While his motives may be honorable, I would rather have him care for my family by getting to know us personally with regular conversation rather than through giving records. However, it is important to remember that we all bring individual baggage to this issue.

  11. Both of the articles about Pastors and Giving Records by Pastors Weber and Asburry have made for interesting reading, as have the resulting comments. A recurring theme (in the comments in particular) appears to be the idea that a Pastor, by being concerned with and knowing details of what members of his flock are give in the offering, is able to ascertain, perhaps due to a decline in giving, that ‘something’ in that person’s or family’s circumstances may have changed. Or perhaps the person or family is struggling in their faith and the lack of giving is symptomatic and points to the need for ‘intervention’ on the part of the pastor.

    Both of these suggestions are, in my opinion, spurious, and dangerous paths to embark upon. Allow me to elaborate… A pastor that has a good, well connected relationship with all the members of his congregation should know when a member is experiencing difficulties and struggles in their life, be it work (or lack thereof), relationships, or the like. Giving should not be the yardstick by which to measure this, a personal relationship and understanding of the life of the member should be the gauge. Likewise, a pastor that knows his members well should also know when they are struggling with their faith. Not by how much they are giving or how their giving may have changed, but again due to the personnel connectedness to the member.

    The suggestion that the welfare of a member (spiritual or secular) should be ‘measured’ by whether they are giving, or how much they are giving, sounds judgmental and verges on works righteousness to me. Our faith and our salvation are not predicated upon how much we give to the church. The pastor’s relationship with the member and the member’s regular attendance and participation in the life of the congregation better speak to that. As long as a congregation’s finances are sound, such that care of the pastor, covering operational expenses, and hopefully support of other worthy causes, is achievable, why would the pastor need to ‘check’ on a member’s giving?

    Not everyone is blessed to be able to give as generously as they, or others may like: one has to be able to provide for self and family – food, clothing, home, and the like, and after this first responsibility for one’s family, there may not be anything left to place in the offering plate. Does this mean the member is struggling and has doubts? Maybe, but it may simply be a point and place in their life that is what it is and does not warrant a somewhat backdoor approach to checking up on them.

    I highly recommend reading a paper, titled Tithing and Christian Stewardship (http://www.ulcmn.org/Files/Tithing%20and%20Stewardship.PDF ) written by Rev. David A. Kind, pastor of University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis, which deals with common misconceptions about tithing and explores the true Scriptural teachings on financial stewardship.

    For those pastors that advocate or support the approach of ‘checking’ on their parishioners’ giving, I ask…
    (1) Do you give or tithe financially to your church on a regular basis, and if not, why not?
    (2) If you do give financially to your church, would you be comfortable with your congregation members ‘checking’ to see how much and how often you give, and then questioning you about your choices and welfare based upon this giving?

  12. @Oliver Young #13
    No one is advocating that checking members records be the only tool a pastor uses, it is just one of many that should also include personal relationships. Why is it so beyond belief to have a situation where a person may be embarrassed about losing a job and they don’t want to tell their pastor the news or even ask the church for money? or that a person could get upset with a pastor and not tell him? Pride can make us do all sorts of silly things. As a pastor I don’t want a tool box that has just a hammer in it. I want as many tools as possible so that I can be the best pastor possible for my people. Can knowing about changes in a persons giving be a tool that may make me a better caretaker of peoples souls and physical wellbeing? Yes. Is it my only tool? Absolutely not.

    1. Yes.
    2. I have no problem with anyone knowing what I give. I would pray that my Treasurer or Elders would approach me if they saw a change in my giving habits. I would rejoice that they loved and cared about me enough to be concerned about my faith and my physical wellbeing.

  13. I find it a bit disturbing, to hear this issue raised under the suggestion of adiaphora– as if, since it is not expressly forbidden, it is specifically free. Such arguments have brought much mischief into the church in our time.

    I seem to recall, that while Christ did speak of money (and good works, in general) often, He also counseled that our good works and our giving should be in secret– so that He who sees in secret, may reward the giver/doer. The one who gives or works to be applauded by others, has already received their reward.

    While I agree that this is not specifically forbidding or encouraging a pastoral review of individual congregant’s giving, is it not at least a principle by which the Christian faithful may be bound in conscience to keep their giving private? Can we accept, without delving into speculative potentialities of sin, that the Christian faithful should be free to give and work in secret, according to Christ’s teaching?

  14. @Brad #15
    The more I think about it, the more I think I agree with Brad here. The Old Adam is always going to look to his works, especially a sacrificial giving to the church within this money culture of ours. If he knows he is being watched, he may look to his generous giving and be proud of it.

    While not as egregious as printing everyone’s giving in the bulletin, I was at a congregation that once reported arbitrary giving levels along with a distribution of how many giving units fit into each level. I was opposed to this type of reporting, but the giving then increased as people sought to move up a level. So it “worked.”

    @Diana Frost #12
    I think this is a good idea. The pastor should be in regular visitation with the people. Where the congregation is so big that the pastor will find out an issue faster by change in giving data, perhaps that congregation instead needs an additional pastor as a helping office or should split into two. I would think it rare in this country that such a large congregation would not be able to afford to do so.

  15. @Oliver Young #13
    I clicked your link and read the article. If you can, please answer some questions for me.
    1. According to this paper, why in the OT would God require tithing BEFORE taking care of ones family or other obligations, yet in the NT reverse that order, as the author implies? Does God not care as much about families in the OT?
    2. If the 10% is only “ceremonial” law in the OT, why do we see Abram tithing 10% well before the ceremonial law is even given? (Genesis 14:18-20)
    3. Pastor Kind appears to have a reversed order in his paper. Does not faithful stewardship always mean acknowledging God and returning thanks and praise AND firstfruits to Him FIRST, whether it be money, goods, time, etc? Pastor Kinds paper appears to place God last, after family, pastor, and others.
    The NT removes the demand to tithe in the sense that it removes the mandatory 10% as demanded by the Law. Living under grace Christians are simply expected to graciously and joyously give without needing a prescribed percentage, which is why we see the early church not giving 10% but 100%! And here we have people quibbling over 10% or the leftovers. The early church understood grace perhaps better than we today in America.
    Even though there is no command in the NT to tithe, Pieper says this, “We Lutheran professors deplore and reprove as sin the endeniable fact that New Testament Christians make use of their deliverance from the OT tithe to excuse their indolence in contributing for the purposes of the Church, particularly for missions. Also Luther reproved this sin.”
    When Christians do not joyously give, Pieper commends pastors to admonish such poor giving and says that in such instances the Law must be used to coerce outward obedience if the grace of the Gospel does not move hearts to give as they ought. The old man (Adam) in us must hear this Law when we fail to give to the Lord.

  16. I tithe and give more and will never stop, just keep giving it’s the best. Much better than taking.

  17. @Tim klinkenberg #20

    Well isn’t that special. And I’m not just picking on Mr. Klinkenberg here. Brad brings up an important point that giving should be in secret. But several times over the two recent articles on stewardship we have folks proclaiming to the world they tithe (remember, our comments here are google – searchable).

  18. @Rev. McCall #22
    Rev. McCall,

    I would not presume to pit Christ’s Words against the Acts of the Apostles. Perhaps there is a hermeneutic that resolves them both, without dumping one or the other?

    Perhaps, in Peter’s response, is found the clue– that the lie is not to the Apostles, but to God. Fundamentally, the conviction against the giver is not regarding the totality of the gift, or the relative amounts, but about the lying and corrupt heart.

    To return the question to you, since not everything the Apostles did was flawless, as has been the experience with their successors to our current day, how does your point hold up to Matthew chapter 6?

    Peace be with you

  19. @Rev. McCall #14
    Rev McCall, I didn’t deny that there may be “a situation where a person may be embarrassed about losing a job and they don’t want to tell their pastor the news or even ask the church for money? Or that a person could be upset with a pastor and not tell him?” Also, I will leave the theological/biblical discussion of this topic to others who are much better informed than I. What I suggested is that personal connectedness is the right and proper avenue for a pastor to understand the pulse of his congregation.

    I am glad that you mention personal relationships as well as checking records, however, to me it seems, and I may be mistaken, that you place checking records on an equal footing with personal relationships. You talk about a toolbox and tools at your disposal; these terms always make me wary when I hear them used within the church (we are not talking about a builder’s set of tools). In this context, these terms are the language of business and the secular world; the language of numbers, counting, and measuring. This type of focus is to me misplaced and seems to look past the personal, close relationships we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, should have and should nurture.

    I imagine that you check records on a somewhat regular basis to ‘see’ if anything is awry that may need your attention and/or intervention. That would imply that you are checking all records on the off chance that you might see something that the church can assist with; to me that seems distrustful and an intrusion where it is not warranted. If a congregation is financially sound; able to provide for her pastor and to pay all other bills, and maybe have a little left over, I struggle with the need for the pastor to check records.

    As I have said, I believe that the best approach for the situations you describe is that of personal relationships. I recognize that talking directly to the pastor may not be the most comfortable path for a member, but other relationships abound within any given congregation.

    Sadly, we seem to have lost some of the art of direct communication in recent years (thanks to social media, email, and texting, perhaps?). Despite this, a congregation is still structured with personal relationships and these should be utilized to the utmost: the pastor with his members, elders with the members, council drawn from the membership, and relationships between members themselves – relationships across the board. I could be wrong, but I would imagine that if a member is in a difficult place, someone in the congregation knows about it and can suggest that the person talks to the pastor. If that suggestion is not fruitful, I believe one could, without betraying a trust, suggest to an elder or the pastor that it may be a good idea to talk to a member who appears to be troubled.

    Looking elsewhere for these insights, such as at records of giving, is to me distasteful and appears to point to a degree of disconnectedness. My interpretation comes, in part, from the fact that I am a member and elder of a relatively small congregation. We are a close knit group, thankfully, and I feel concerns and issues manage to reach the elders and pastor through various relationship channels, both direct and indirect.

  20. Oliver Young :
    @Rev. McCall #14
    I imagine that you check records on a somewhat regular basis to ‘see’ if anything is awry that may need your attention and/or intervention. That would imply that you are checking all records on the off chance that you might see something that the church can assist with …

    This thread is in many ways, as indicated in the original posting, a continuation of another conversation on another thread, and it would be unfortunate to read this thread only.

    If you would consult the previous conversation, you would see how wrong you are in your assumption as to the attitude and practice Rev. McCall is advocating.

    That being said, I would agree that:

    Oliver Young :
    checking all records on the off chance that you might see something that the church can assist with [….] seems distrustful and an intrusion where it is not warranted. If a congregation is financially sound; able to provide for her pastor and to pay all other bills, and maybe have a little left over, I struggle with the need for the pastor to check records.

    and that:

    Oliver Young :
    Looking elsewhere for these insights, such as at records of giving, is to me distasteful and appears to point to a degree of disconnectedness.

  21. @Jais H. Tinglund #25
    While I maintain my position regarding the distastefulness of reviewing member records, I happily accept any correction and clarification if I have misinterpreted the position of Rev. McCall. And I apologize if I have wrongly attributed behavior or action in this regard.

  22. @Diana Frost #12

    I totally agree about the trust aspect. If the pastor and the leaders want to change their position and now want look and confront people’s giving (or the lack of it), then they need to disclose and declare this position clearly and upfront with the congregation first. Without these, they would be blindsiding their parisher and worse deeply broken the trust which would be VERY difficult to rebuild.

    The pastors and leaders cannot have it both ways — on one hand, claiming it as their spiritual duties and on the other, doing it covertly and underhandedly.

    The scripture is silient on this issue at hand. It would then be left for each church, bishop, or even superintendent to decide and implement. Regardless of what they choose, they shall need to have the integrity and fortitude to come forth with full disclosure and declaration to their parisher from the onset.

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