Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Taken from Growing Healthy Churches January 2014 E-Newsletter
We in GHC (Growing Healthy Churches) believe pastors should know what people give. If the pastor is the Spiritual leader of the congregation, as most congregations I work with would attest, than the pastor needs to be aware of one of the most spiritual acts a believer performs which is how that believer honors and obeys God with their finances. According to Jesus Christ a person reveals their heart and its commitment to Jesus by how the resources God uses to bless an individual or family are handled.
Many pastors use James 2:1-4 as an excuse for not knowing. Such pastors say they do not want to be biased by showing favoritism based upon what a person gives. I find that this excuse does not fit the passage, reflects such a low level of spiritual maturity on the part of pastors that is embarrassing, and it is not consistent with other pastoral judgments and behaviors.
First the passage is talking about providing people status based upon their apparent overall wealth or poverty, not on the amount an individual gives to God. In fact good giving is based not on the amount given but on the percentage given based upon the total resources a person possesses. Jesus honored the widow and her giving, not based upon the amount, but upon the fact that she gave all she had. Therefore, wealthy people who give large amounts that are only a trifle of their income are not good givers. Whereas, people with less resources who give a significant part of their income (which may be much less then gifts given by wealthy people) are, in God’s eyes, good givers. Wise pastors do not look at the amount given alone, but whether the gift reflects true sacrifice or just financial inconvenience.
Second, I find most pastors make judgments about members of their congregations that are legitimate, and do not make God’s gracious blessings of individuals, whether it be money, spiritual gifts, physical appearance, talents, personality, IQ etc. as a basis for giving a person favored status in the congregation. Pastors are looking for disciples who model discipline, faithfulness, dedication, mentoring, reproduction, commitment, responsibility etc. as those things that enable a person to be given the privilege of service (status) in a congregation. If such is true in these areas, why is giving different? It is not. Most pastors I know, if found guilty of discrimination, it is for reverse discrimination to assuage cultural guilt.
All leaders are expected to make judgments about disciples. We are to judge behaviors. If we cannot judge behaviors we cannot honor those who the Bible says to honor and we cannot exercise church discipline. We are to judge words. If we cannot judge words then we cannot distinguish between true and false teaching. We are not to judge motives and we are not to discriminate (a form of judgment) based on status which comes from how God dispenses or does not dispense his grace.
Giving is a behavior that requires discipline and reflects ones growth or lack there of as a disciple. Therefore pastors need to know what people in the congregation give.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]