Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why it is Never, Ever Your Pastor's Business or Anyone Else's Business When, What and How You Give Money to God Through the Church

I have heard every kind of justification there is claiming that it is acceptable that Pastors, Elders, Deacons or Stewardship Committee members make it their business to seek to know what you give to God through the church. It might be that a Treasurer or those responsible for sending out statements become immediately knowledgeable purely from the duty of counting and sending a statement But from that they are certainly obligated to keep the matter private. Most know this trust and observe it. However, this is far removed from them "seeking" this knowledge where it is none of their business.

But outside of that exception where the person does not seek to know, there are Pastors, Elders and Theologians at large who espouse the anti-biblical premise that as part of pastoral or elder care, as a watchman-so to speak- such persons have a right to know what one gives. Wrong. 

The passage below is emphatic with all of its explications and implications. 2 Corinthians 9:7:
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Do not ever allow yourself to be manipulated or violated with respect to your giving. When you give to God through the church, you are giving to God through the church.  The church government receives the offerings to God and their responsibility is to rightly administer it, not interfere with the privacy of the givers to God and the determinations they make in their heart before God. The church government is not the rewarder of your investment in the Kingdom of God, God is and that day is yet to come.

Anyone who ever claims that your giving to God is their business because they are in some ministerial position within your church ought to be a warning signal to you. Either that situation needs to be resolved or you need to depart to safer grounds. If they are willing to violate a clear principle here, they will do it elsewhere.Your giving is purposed by "you" and no one else. As the passage says, "each one...as he has decided....not under compulsion".

A final note. There is a fundamental reason people, particularly those in ministry but not limited to those in ministry or ordained as non-vocational Elders, feel it is their right to know what you give to God and believe they have the right to some say it this process. It is because they have an arrogance-complex. An arrogance-complex stems from psychological immaturity and with Christians it combines with spiritual immaturity to form the unique psychological/spiritual arrogance-complex. The results are ecclesiastical tyranny in various forms, sometimes by one man (*Philsopher King) and sometimes by a group of people (Elder Oligarchy) or a completely dysfunctional cult-like church.

When a man (or woman) disregards the clear boundaries of Scripture "in the name of God" (normally crusadership mentalities borrow God's name for their causes) you can be certain that there is some form of arrogance-complex involved. Hopefully, such personalities are growing out of this and not into this but what you need to know, whether they are maturing out or regressing into this form of spiritual dysfunction, is that you should not subject yourself or loved ones under your care and influence to their misery. 

Remember, your giving is to God and it is a matter of your concience and yours alone (remembering always, of course that marriages and families operate as a unit and they will share in these concerns and contributions but nothing outside of the privacy of self, marriage or family as the various contexts arise, should be assumed to be something any minister or anyone not in these contexts has a right with which to interfere).

*Philospher King is a term I learned reading Paul Dohse's blog, Paul's Passing Thoughts and found it very apt in many cases.


2 comments:

Andy said...

I think the largest motivating factor in many churches concerning giving revolves around the pastor's salary. If you look closely at the compensation packages many pastors receive these days it is obscene. So, of course they need to "encourage" the congregation to give generously in order to meet budgetary demands where the pastor's salary is concerned.

1 Peter 5:2 "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;"

1 Timothy 6:9-10 "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Alex Guggenheim said...

Andy,

I do agree that salaries have to be restrained at times when they can appear to be immodest and reflect a certain, "getting rich via ministry" profile. And that, of course, is part of membership considerations in a church. One must consider how the Lord's money is being distributed.