By Gina Calvert

Why the Pastor Should Be a Stewardship Leader

As churches begin to see the reality about church giving declines, they’re recognizing that old mindsets must be rooted out and new ones forged. One mindset being reexamined is the Pastor’s role in stewardship. 

The Conspiracy of Silence

In his book Ask, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregation, author Charles R. Lane references the “conspiracy of silence” in most churches. This is an unspoken agreement that “everyone will be more comfortable if money isn’t talked about in the congregation, especially by the Pastor.”

Preach on it occasionally, yes, but don’t get involved in people’s personal business.

The problem with this conspiracy, he explains, is that it’s based on old taboos that make a false distinction between the financial and the spiritual. It leads to Pastors being expected to focus on “spiritual” aspects of the church and leave “practical” concerns to other leaders and servants, which some Pastors are more than happy to do.

Unfortunately, this plan misses a golden opportunity. Pastors are uniquely qualified for discipling members in this area due to their role as the most public-facing leader, their relationships with congregants, and their Bible knowledge.

Why Separation of Finances and Spirituality Doesn’t Work

Money is a primary focus in Scripture, which contains more than 2,000 verses on the topic (compared to about 500 on prayer and faith). Additionally, nearly 40% of Jesus’ parables broach the topic. (Source)

In other words, money is spiritual.

Going even further, Clif Christopher, Horizon Stewardship’s Founder and author of Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, states that “How people choose to give may be the #1 identifier of the condition of the soul…It’s the greatest diagnostic tool, on its own, that we have to help shape individuals and leadership as a whole.” (Source: Who Should Know What People Give?: Clif Christopher)

This is why Pastors guiding their congregation spiritually need access to financial records:

“Stewardship ministry is too important to the spiritual lives of the members of the congregation for the pastor to not be involved.

The Pastor needs to know what people are giving. Because wealth and what we do with the money and possessions God has entrusted to us is such a huge issue in our relationship with Jesus, the pastor has to know what people give.

How is the pastor to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus if he or she is kept in the dark about how much people give? Pastors need to have access to giving information and … to handle this information just as [they] handle everything else [they] knows about people’s lives –confidentially and pastorally.” (Source: Pastor’s Role in Stewardship: Charles R. Lane

The Pastor as Leader of the Stewardship Team

Lane recommends that the Pastor work in conjunction with a team focused primarily on this one aspect of the congregation’s spiritual health. Success requires three foundational perspectives:

1. This team must hold and convey the scriptural mindset that “a stewardship ministry is about the need of the giver to give, and not the need of the church to receive. This is an important distinction, and can blunt some of the criticism that the pastor is always asking for money.” (Source: Pastor’s Role in Stewardship: Charles R. Lane)

2. The Pastor must use his platform, training, and relationships to, as Lane puts it, “keep the stewardship team on track” and minister to individuals appropriately (whether through recognition of healthy giving or spiritual guidance, when dictated by poor giving habits). (Source: Pastor’s Role in Stewardship: Charles R. Lane)

3. The team must have access to reporting tools that give them visibility into individual generosity as well as overall giving trends within the church. As Clif Christopher states, “Knowing always beats guessing when shaping leadership.” (Source: Who Should Know What People Give?: Clif Christopher

Vision2 is Here to Help

We strongly believe in the need for Senior Pastors to have access to robust reporting tools. That’s why we’ve built convenient dashboards that can be delivered to their device of choice. They get both at-a-glance visibility into the top metrics they need to know, plus the option to drill down into details.

Someone in the church must be focusing on how the church can better minister to the congregation based on giving behavior. Without Senior Pastors involved in this crucial oversight and setting expectations for others, tracking giving individual and church-wide trends (and, most importantly, the resulting ministry) tends to be sporadic or decline.

Download A Ministry-First Approach to Generosity: 26 Ideas for Using Giving Data to Better Serve Your Members

Have questions about how to use giving data in your ministry? Reach out with your questions.