Who Should Know What People Give?

by | February 20, 2019

Clif Christopher, Horizons’ Founder and author of Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, discusses the most argued-about stewardship topic in the church today: who should know what people give.


In this newest video from Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series, Clif shares his perspective on who should know what people give to the church and why it’s important. If your church leadership has ever disagreed about who should have access to the church’s giving list, this brief video will provide insights and answers to this controversial topic.





Did you miss the first two installments of the Giving Intelligence Series?  Click the titles below to quickly access them or sign up for Giving365 and access these videos along with many other free stewardship resources.

Three Reasons Americans Choose to Give

The Power of Thanks: Four Practical Ministry Funding Impact Strategies



To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource


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    Thank you for this video. Though I’m now retired, I was able to use the knowledge of one’s giving several times to learn about crises in the lives of the parishioners I served. A few were having financial difficulties and had to slice their giving pledge severely. Others, it’s also true, were having difficulty with the church itself – my leadership in particular. Though bruising, I’m glad I could bring it up, for the air was cleared. Sometimes the result was very good; and sometimes, it wasn’t. I applaud you for the video. Thank you for sharing your observations.

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    Completely agree Clif. I once ran an annual fund call center for an international graduate school. During training I talked about how, in America, talking about personal finances is more taboo than talking about sex. I have found talking about money to be even more taboo in the church. And that is really a shame.

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    I think this is correct, but we have a lot of people in our congregation who are sensitive about who knows what they give. How do we satisfy them that this information is kept confidential, but needs to be shared among the leadership (our rector, treasurer, parish administrator and our Stewardship Chair are authorized to see this info). We see this info, but I don’t think we use it effectively in either our personal interactions (our rector doesn’t want the amount someone gives to influence how she treats them or allow the bigger givers to have undue influence) or written communications (e.g.,, including the amount of the prior pledge to be part of the “ask”). Thoughts?

    • Craig Miller

      Frank…sounds like a late night conversation in Chattanooga in September is in order!!

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    Amen! Our church began to experience renewal and greater generosity when we made clear requirements for those in leadership to be either tithers or those moving to the tithe. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard this: “At my last church ‘they’ came to me and demanded I pay my tithe,” almost like a foreclosure! Whether or not that was really true heaven only knows. But the Pastor in charge has to take the lead in stewardship. A boss says “Go!” a leader says “Let’s go!” BTW, the best way to be bold on stewardship as a pastor is to be a tither and a generous giver oneself.

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    I totally disagree with your premise on viewing of tithing/pledging records. I as pastor do not want to see the giving records because I wish to remain unbiased and not relate to my congregation based on their giving. I will not accept the thinking that , that will never happen or that a pastor has to keep an open mind. The human mind doesn’t work that way. In our United Methodist denomination we require that only the financial secretary be the one who knows what each member is or is not tithing. The only instance when I am required and will get involved is when someone stops tithing. Then I need to find out if there is a problem so I can minister to them and help them overcome their circumstance. Our Annual Conference just added the pastor as another person who can view the giving records but I will not be part of that change for the reason stated above. The worst damage that can be done is when a group of people or committee has access to giving records, ,particularly if one of those members is not tithing themselves or is only giving a limited amount of dollars and they are going to sit in judgment of others who are tithing large or small, or they don’t hold to the confidence of what the other tithing congregation members are giving.

    • Kristine Miller

      From J. Clif Christopher:
      Thank you for listening and responding to my latest video. We simply may disagree on this.
      First, the United Methodist Discipline added a section in 2016 that stated that the Pastor, not financial secretary, must have full access to all donor records.
      However, I am more concerned about how we can help bring in the Kingdom than follow the Discipline. Guessing is a poor leadership position. I do not know everything about my member’s spiritual condition but I want to try and know all I can. It should affect my decision making if I know a person has not been in worship. It should affect my thinking if I know that a person is a real student of the Scripture. It should affect my thinking if I know a person is in daily in prayer for the church. It should affect my thinking if I know someone is tithing or barely giving. It all speaks to the heart and one’s relationship with Christ. If Jesus is Lord of one’s life, one cannot help but be a giver. If I know they are not a giver then as their pastor I must help them to know Christ.
      Every pastor has more members who are living in sin with their love of money than their love of another’s spouse, or love of alcohol or gambling or pornography. As pastors we should want to know about sin’s dominance in a member’s life so we can work to separate them from that which they love more than God. Knowing is a lot better than guessing.
      If a pastor can not handle knowing that many of his/her members are living in sin ( worshipping the idol of money) then they are probably in the wrong line of work. Pastor’s must be able to work with saints and sinners.
      These are my thoughts, if it helps. Thanks again for writing and thanks for serving the church.

    • Avatar

      Cal, I humbly ask if you would remain unbiased and open minded when you see Joe and Jill parishioner driving new Teslas and yet ask for a camp scholarship for their child? Would such a request change your perception of said parishioners? I (and I think most everyone) make many biased and inaccurate assumptions based on perception without data. I think Clif’s point is that knowing giving history is a piece of data that provides a point for discussion about an individual’s discipleship journey in relation to money and is not a piece of data to be used for judgement. It is interesting to me that among Jesus’ disciples was a treasurer, Judas. One of the twelve closest to Jesus yet he sold out his Lord for a few bucks. And in the case of the rich man Jesus appears to have made a judgement call based only on what he observed….that the man was wealthy and put his trust in the wealth in spite of all of his other acts of piety. Why did Jesus call him out? Because he loved him. Love calls us to hard conversations sometimes.


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