Yes, you should know

Based on the calls and emails from last week’s post there was a part of it that many of you were uncomfortable with.

As I’m sure you will recall I suggested that you send different stewardship messages to different folks, with tithers, your middle donors and your nongiving or barely giving folks.

But ministers aren’t supposed to know what people give, right?  In fact that Book of Discipline says they’re not allowed to know (not that I can find it in the Discipline but a church volunteer swears that it’s in there.)

Actually, the opposite is true.  General Conference 2016 added to the Discipline that pastors shall have access to this information.  You can read more here.  But don’t go looking for that information because the Discipline says you’re allowed, go looking to strengthen your ministry.

You need to know because different groups in your church should be asked to support the church in different ways.  We covered this last week.  I assure you that the other nonprofits in town aren’t sending all of their donors the exact same solicitation letters.  Major donors, first time donors, growing donors all receive custom communications.  You can’t send these if you don’t know.

You can make the argument that the pastor shouldn’t know what people give (although I’ll disagree with you) but you will never be able to argue that the chair of your Nominating Committee doesn’t need to know.  Pastors, take a second and think about who that committee chair is.  That’s right, it’s you.  You wouldn’t have a Worship Committee Chair who never comes on Sunday, so why would you have a Finance or Stewardship Chair who doesn’t give?

Start a conversation in your church about why the pastor should know and ask the Finance Secretary for the information.  This is where lay volunteers can really help advocate on behalf of the pastor.  But I would warn you not to let this get in the way of your ministry.  This may be one that requires some finesse and some time to make happen.  And look for ways you can compromise to get the information the pastor really needs perhaps without the details that folk may be uncomfortable with.


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