If you have served in church leadership for several years, you have likely heard this statement:
“You know who pays the bills at the church.”
The statement is one of the most insidious, destructive, and ungodly statements a member can make. It says much about the attitude of the member and the group he or she represents. There is nothing good that can come from this statement. Just look at some of the implications of this attitude:
- It is an attitude of selfishness. The giver with this attitude looks at his or her gifts to the church with a closed fist instead of an open hand. Money is given conditionally, not sacrificially or unconditionally: “It’s my money, not God’s money.”
- It is an attitude of entitlement. Gifts to the church are more like country club dues. “Since I pay my money, I get my perks and benefits. I get things my way. And if I don’t get things my way, you just watch me stop paying my dues.”
- It is an attitude of divisiveness. Those who express such statements are already creating schisms in the church. The big givers are in one group, and the lesser givers are in another. It’s us versus them. “Those other people don’t deserve an opinion, because we pay more than they do.”
- It is an attitude of bullying. The statement is always a threat. It is usually directed at the pastor or some other leader in the church. “You do things my way or just watch what I’ll do to you.” It’s intimidation and bullying at its worst.
- It is an attitude of superiority. The person who makes this statement is the Pharisee who lets the world know how “godly” he or she is. “Look at how much I give. I must be blessed by God. And this church is blessed by me. You wouldn’t want me to withhold my blessings, would you?”
- It is an attitude of ungodliness. The Enemy loves to hear such statements. When he hears church members say they pay the bills, he knows they are focused on themselves and not Christ. He knows they are divisive instead of instruments of unity. The Enemy knows he’s winning when these contemptible words flow from the mouths of church members.
Yes, I know churches can expend funds in imperfect ways. Yes, I know all churches need systems of accountability and checks and balances with their finances. Yes, I know some churches need greater transparency with their budgets and spending.
But there is absolutely no excuse for making threats with the money you and others have given to the church. Such an attitude gives no glory to God.
It is one of the most destructive statements a church member can make. It is spoken too often in too many churches. And, if the attitude is allowed to continue, it becomes a cancer that will kill and destroy.
Posted on October 8, 2018
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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What if the church denomination is involved in lawsuits (that they caused) that are frivolous and is against 1st Cor 6:1-8? Do you designate your funds to a particular cause with your offering so it does not go toward the legal fund?
I’m reminded of an elderly deacon I knew in my first church (he’s in heaven now). On one of my first visits to see him, he told me he wasn’t always able to make it to church because of his health issues, but he always sent his tithe even when he couldn’t come. I told him I was sure the church appreciated it. He just shrugged and said, “That ain’t mine.”
If more church members had that attitude, we could avoid a lot of problems!
On a similar vein, on more than one occasion over the years I have had “I give – but not to this church because I don’t trust how you will spend it” – seriously? You trust this church with your spiritual health and that of your family, but not with your money? I think your priorities need re-assessing!
I’m tremendously thankful for those faithful tithers who have given and sacrificed faithfully to pay the bills, provide for salaries, support the ministries and build the buildings. I think they deserve (have earned) being honored by staff leadership (who may be at the church for a year or two, before spring-boarding) by listening to their opinions.
I’m reminded of a pastor-friend who accepted a pastorate to a small church so they would move him across four state lines- as he told me, “I won’t be here long; I just needed someone to move us.” Those dollars for his move were channeled through those who kept the lights on and built the facilities, and paid for his move. And yes, he was serving another church a year later, about thirty miles away.
I’m reminded of the pastor who was displaying his forward-thinking vision, as he shared about his recent exchange with a deacon and church lay leader who had helped pay the bills and build the facilities through his lengthy faithfulness. The young pastor wanted to lead the church into a building program stretching well beyond the church’s financial abilities, and, as he reported to me, he “stuck his finger in that deacon’s face and said, Old man, you’ve climbed your mountains in your day, but this is my mountain; get out of my way.” And the deacon left the church. His giving went with him. And not long after the multi-million dollar auditorium was completed the church had no dollars for the payments. The pastor left. His arrogance went with him. For all the work that the pastor put into that church field it truly was those faithful families that had built the church; with much of their dollars. But, scripturally correct, their money showed where their treasure was- and, it was in the Lord’s work and in His House, and supporting His servants.
I’ve never heard a church member make the statement as is the basis for your article. But, I’ve personally seen several accounts when I wished the pastoral staff had been more humble in graciously accepting the value found in the voice of faithful givers.
Sometimes it’s church leadership that seems to have a bad attitude about giving. There was a church we visited often when a daughter was away at school, a large Southern Baptist church (with no mention of “Baptist” anywhere – I thought it was a non-denom for years). At the end of the service after the sermon, they passed the plate (buckets actually), and then simply dismissed – no alter call, no closing song, no prayer, no benediction, nothing. What was I left to think about their priorities?
I am unclear how your comment is related to the statement of toxicity, which is the subject of this blog post.
Perhaps such a member should be reminded they are only giving a portion of that which God has blessed them with–all of which belongs to Him.
We all know the different groups of people we find. I would like to add that man can fail you but God never will. Just continue showing love to all.
David–thank you, you describe what I meant by being open to the Lord showing us a need.
Alex–we are more New Covenant in our theology and do not believe the tithe is in force today. Still we do give proportionally, as generously as we feel we can, and joyfully. Between us and the Lord if that is more or less than 10%. We are not “withholding it from the Lord” by any means as we are simply seeking the best way to continue giving while in flux.
Local leadership does share our concerns about where the new direction is going. They do not want to leave the denom but are hoping to quietly exist under the radar. They use denom materials for some things but then again they simply teach the lesson “differently” than the print material. If it weren’t for the monies that get passed on to the denom we might stay as the local church is pretty good.
We are blessed with a plethora of excellent churches that do teach what we believe, so we should be settled in soon in a different denom. When I read this blog entry my first thought was “Oh my stars who would say that” and then my second was to check my heart to make sure we are not doing that. And to seek input on how best to handle this.