Should Pastors Know What People or Church Members Give?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Should pastors know what people or church members are give?  Is it the pastor’s business to know how much each person is giving?  What are biblical guidelines for what a pastor should and  should not know?

What the Pastor Should Know

Frequently a church member has to be disciplined for behavior that is detrimental to the church.  Certain things hurt the image of the Body of Christ and when it degrades the church it cannot be overlooked.  There were cases where Paul had to publicly rebuke and disciple certain church members that were hurting the cause of Christ.  Such was the case in the church at Corinth where a member was openly sinning by sleeping with his father’s wife.  Paul was very concerned as he wrote, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1).  This is where the pastor must step in and rebuke the person doing such a thing and if necessary, disfellowship such a person…for their sake and for the sake of the church.  Even in the Old Testament, “A man is not to marry his father’s wife; he must not dishonor his father’s bed” (Deuteronomy 22:30).  This is a detestable thing to the Lord.  In fact God says, “Cursed is anyone who sleeps with his father’s wife, for he dishonors his father’s bed” (Duet 27:20).

How should pastors deal with a man that was sleeping with his father’s wife or any kind of sexual immorality?  He wrote, “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:2). Paul then said,I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:3b-5).  He was to be “delivered to Satan” meaning that he was to be disfellowshipped for his and the church’s own good.  The man was even bragging about it!  Paul was angry saying, “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7a).  The idea that sin which is allowed in the church can easily spread and affects the whole church (whole lump) is very much like leavening.  It spreads quickly.  Paul told the Corinthian church, “now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one” (1 Corinthians 5:11).

Paul was not just concerned with sexual immorality but with drunkards, swindlers, the greedy, and even idolaters.  They are to “Purge the evil person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:13).  Clearly a church member cannot do such things and avoid discipline or even disfellowship.  Church members should not even “associate with anyone” doing such things.

Non-Essentials

Giving to God is a very personal thing and the responsibility is between them and God.

Giving to God is a very personal thing and the responsibility is between them and God.

On the non- essentials such as diet, the pastor or church elders should not make it their business or make an issue of out of it.  For example, if a member is drinking a beer at a cookout, and the member is not getting drunk, there should be tolerance for such a man to do this.  The pastor has no right to privately or publicly bring this up to the man or any person for that matter.

Also, some people believe in the rapture and some do not.  This is not an issue that is essential to the faith.  We must have grace among other members who do not believe as we do and so if a member does not believe in something that isn’t essential to one’s faith, pastors or any one should not be trying to openly rebuke or correct them.

Should Pastors Know What Members Give?

Giving offerings is not something that the pastor has any business sticking his nose into.  If members don’t give much of anything or any thing at all, they are hurting the church some, yes, but they are hurting themselves more.  At the church I pastor at, I like to have us use sealed envelopes for offerings so that we do not judge anyone over how much they give or don’t give.  I admonish the treasurer to keep all donations private and don’t even share with me how much people give or how much they don‘t!  Even if someone leaves a larger offering, I don’t want to know who gave how much unless that person comes up to me and tells me.  I don’t want to know nor do I feel I need to know.  It is none of my business.  The matter of giving to God is completely between the giver and God.  I do suggest that they gave what they can afford and give generously and cheerfully. That is the most important thing.  It’s not how much you give but how you give.  Some can pay 10%, some can only give less, but others should be able to give more, but again, that’s a private matter as far as I am concerned, but certainly God blesses the generous person.

Conclusion

A pastor is commanded to oversee the flock for which he is under-shepherd of (1 Timothy 3:1, 1 Peter 5:2).  He can not overlook grievous and unrepentant sin in the church (1 Corinthians 5) but he is to not be overbearing (1 Peter 5:3).  If necessary, a church member should be disciplined before the whole church and disfellowshipped for the good of the church (Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5) or they should be rebuked if they are contradicting biblically sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).   Jesus gave the best model for church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17 saying:

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

The pastor should follow this principle too.  Go first to the offender in private (v 15).  If this doesn’t help, go with one or two other church members, also in private (v 16) but even if this doesn’t work, you must take it before the whole church and if this is not effective, then we are to disassociate ourselves with them and disfellowship them (v 17). Other than the issues mentioned above, the pastor doesn’t really need to know what every member is doing and especially what they are giving. Giving to God is a very personal thing and the responsibility is between them and God.

Take a look at this related article about giving:

What does the Bible Teach about Giving?

Resources – New International Version Bible (NIV) THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. YouTube video “My Own Little World” by Matthew West.





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