It’s been about two years since my last post. I’ve been busy. Get off me. So, here’s a post that stemmed from a conversation the other day.
The relationship between a pastor and his church is just that, a relationship.
We relate to each other in a multitude of ways, and interact on a very personal level both spiritually and emotionally. Often the pastor will teach or preach on very sensitive subjects such as sexual sin, alcoholism, financial responsibility, divorce, lust, adultery and many other doctrinal applications. These teachings can and do affect the very core of the pastor as well as the congregant. These teachings are deep, truthful, and often get right at the core of our sin, exposing our universal need for Jesus.
The relationship between these two parties is magnified by the fact that eternity is hanging in the balance and that decisions to follow Jesus are either made or ignored. The relationship between the pastor and his church affects nearly EVERY part of his life due to his dedication to the people of his church. In other words, if you struggle, we struggle. If you fail, we feel that pain. If you divorce, we are battling emotions right along with you. If you are angry we desire to help you through that pain. If depressed, addicted, hurt, or happy, the pastor is right there with you in your joy and pain. After all, we are in a relationship together.
Given that the pastor and the church member are in a relationship with one another, it has caused me to examine what it is that “stresses and strains” most relationships. One of the most common stresses and strains in relationships has to do with finance.
If you are married, then you know first hand how finances can cause a fracture in a relationship. Finances, while finite, often feel as though the weight is crushing. The crushing weight of financial problems (whether perceived or actual) will without a doubt cause stress and strain in a relationship.
The relationship between the pastor and his church is very similar. When there’s money, the strain is lessened, but when things are tight, the relationship can easily become stressed and strained. It’s very difficult for the pastor to cast vision and lead the ministry if the church isn’t supporting that vision and ministry financially.
For example, a pastor recently wanted to purchase double walled plastic tumblers to give away as gifts to our volunteers, the very people who make things happen here at our church. However, he found himself having to figure out whether or not he could spend $300 to honor our most valued assets.
This is extremely frustrating for the pastor because he now has to jump through hoops to figure out how to do a simple thing with the church’s money. Things like this can and do provide opportunity for stress and strain financially.
Further, the pastor never feels as though he can ask for a raise because the church rarely gives according to the budget. Our church hasn’t given according to the budget that they voted on in seemingly forever (at least 4 years). Therefore, we cannot even operate according to the budget that the church members voted on and approved 100% unanimously. In this vein, the pastor is effectively losing money each year that he does not get a (at minimum) “cost of living” raise. In the past 5 years, a pastor will have taken at least a 6% pay cut due to the cost of living increases and the lack of giving at our church.
These facts are stressful and strain the relationship between the pastor and his church. When this sort of stress and strain are present the pastor can find it very easy to think about other careers as well as wonder if anyone at this church cares or is as invested in this relationship as myself and my family are invested.
So, it stands to reason that if a church is having financial issues, there will be relationship issues between the pastor and the church members. When this stress and strain happens the church pastor will be rendered ineffective in his leadership.
How do we deal with that?
Well, first and foremost each member of the church should be tithing. Tithing is 10% of your income. Plain and simple. If you make $1000 per week, $100 is the tithe for that week. If you make $1000 per week and you give $50 to the church that is NOT a tithe. It’s a generous amount, but it is NOT a tithe.
Christian people have been shown on average to give less than 2% of their income to the church or any other charity. In my opinion, this is pathetic. It’s quite sad that a Christian person would find this acceptable.
Imagine if everyone who attended your church was not only fiscally responsible with their giving at church, but also at home. There’d be no financial strain either at church or at home, and these relationships could function without the pressure of foolishly managed finances. The church would be provided for, and the home budget would be secure because of sound financial planning.
Imagine if everyone gave 10% of their income to the local church that they attend. If we as a nation are averaging 2% giving, what kinds of things would change if we began giving a minimum of a tithe? Crazy things would begin to happen for the kingdom of God and no pastor would ever have to “worry” about $300 to thank his volunteers.
My challenge to each of you is to GIVE. Start immediately and give 10% of your income to your local church. Don’t back down, and when things get tight trust the promises of the Lord given through scripture. Fight the paper tigers and tithe.
Start today, try it, and let’s change the narrative between the pastor and his church. No more relationship problems stemming from money issues. Let’s start. Let’s do this today.