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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

20 Apr '11

Church leaders who don't give

I had an interesting email recently from a financial secretary in a local church. His dilemma was that several of the nominees for the leadership board do not give financially to the church and he wondered if he should confidentially tell the pastor. As the financial secretary with knowledge of congregants giving, he is in a delicate position but He astutely understands an important issue: Those who are not generous to their church should not be in leadership positions!

I have previously addressed the question as to whether I think pastors ought to know what members give and will not repeat that here. What I do believe is that it is foolish to put anyone in church leadership who is not financially committed to the church. If Jesus words are truth, that where our treasure is, our heart is also, it should be clear that those who do not give to their church have their hearts elsewhere. How then can they lead with heart and integrity?


Even if they give generously elsewhere, if they do not give to their local church they have disqualified themselves for leadership in that setting. Often, if they are not giving to their local church they simply are not giving.

Leaders call their congregations to a lifestyle of generosity. Those who are not financially generous - in line with their own ability - cannot with integrity call others to such a life. It really does matter.


One pastor I know of a large church has a rule that if he receives strong criticism about the direction of the church he will look at the individual's giving before responding. In the majority of cases, those most disaffected are giving little or nothing. They may be loud voices in congregational meetings but the truth is they are not vested in the ministry and don't deserve to be taken seriously. Their heart is not there! Which is also why they may be disaffected. What is interesting is that often those who posture themselves as being very generous are in fact the least generous. 


If in your culture, pastors do not have access to giving records, my advice to those putting leaders up for nomination is that they ask the financial secretary whether those individuals are giving in a regular and generous way. If the answer is no, I would not put them on the leadership board. 


I would have the same expectation of pastoral staff. They, along with the leadership board set the tone for the ministry and a lack of generosity at that level robs them of the integrity to lead others toward a life of generosity (in money, time, energy and the use of gifts). If our pocketbook is not in the game, we are not in the game. And certainly not our hearts!

If you checked the giving of your current leaders and pastoral staff, either specifically or through a general question, you may find opportunity to sit down and talk with those who are not giving beyond a token amount. It is a discipleship moment for them.