6 Perspectives on Who Should See Church Giving Records

It’s a difficult question.

Indeed it is such a difficult question that I will not attempt to give a concrete answer. I will let you know what I’ve done in the past, but that’s it.

It’s really a difficult question. Who should be able to see what each person gives to the church? Let’s look at six perspectives.

  1. The lead pastor and one layperson. This perspective argues that financial stewardship is a spiritual discipline, and the pastor should have access to individual giving to be able to see how the members are doing in this regard. The layperson, of course, is the person who actually keeps the records.
  2. One layperson who guides the pastor. The layperson again is the member keeping financial records. He or she is the only one who has access to giving records. But that person is able to share information with the pastor or other leaders as needed. For example, the financial secretary can inform the pastor or elders about potential future elders according to their giving patterns. I took this approach as a pastor. I did not have access to individual giving patterns, but our financial secretary would let me and other leaders know if a person should be eligible for a leadership role according to their stewardship in the church.
  3. One layperson only. In this example, only the financial secretary (or equivalent) has access to individual giving records. He or she does not provide any input that would reflect this information.
  4. A key group in the church. In some churches, this group is the elders. In some other churches, it is the nominating committee.
  5. A staff person other than the pastor and a layperson. The pastor is specifically precluded from individual giving visibility. Instead, another staff person, such as an associate or executive pastor, has access to the records along with the financial secretary.
  6. No church members. No church member can see the records. Instead, a non-member is recruited or hired to keep the records, but that person does not share the information with any church members.

There are certainly different options and different variations of these options of church giving records. I can see some rationale in each of them. These are really difficult questions.

What is your church’s practice? What do you think of these six options? What do you think is the ideal option?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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