A New Poll–Should Ministers Have Knowledge of their Congregants’ Giving?

Congregations have their unique culture around money and giving.  Ministers and congregants have varied degrees of comfort with the topic and practices involving money and giving in the congregation.   The needs, interests, and expectations do not always match up.

This question comes up frequently in my conversations with ministers and lay leaders.  It is a topic that is emerging more and more in congregational stewardship literature as congregations realize they must work harder to compete for their congregants’ charitable dollars.

As I research this topic for a future blog, I am interested in getting your responses and thoughts.  I invite you to take this latest poll and to offer your comments on the matter.

7 thoughts on “A New Poll–Should Ministers Have Knowledge of their Congregants’ Giving?

  1. It would be especially interesting to cross reference the responses with the churches they come from. What is the answer at a Breakthrough Congregation versus the answer at a church with chronic difficulties (long-term weakness in things like membership growth, pledging growth, and retention of senior staff)?

  2. Our minister hosted a special event where only “big donors” were invited. There was no corresponding event for the very active people who gave a lot of time but not much money (which included many of our members who had retired from work and some stay-at-home parents).

    After that, quite a few people weren’t as inclined to give so much of their time, because they felt they weren’t considered very important to the congregation.

  3. I’ve been in a congregation where the minister would only spend time with the big donors. My membership spanned single-motherhood-poverty to executive-upper-middle-class. The fact that I was treated better by the ministers (same ones) in when in the latter category than when in the former was not helpful. I certainly needed more from the church when I had less of my own; but that isn’t how UUs work — or so I was told. I left that church.

  4. I would say no. Ministers, professionals or not, are still human and subject to all our frailties and emotions. Don’t muddy the waters where, especially in a small congregation where the minister personally knows each of his or her congregants, you create the potential of an internal conflict of interest between the minister and the congregant. A minister’s job is difficult enough without placing them in this position. Rely on the Finance Committee/Stewardship members to perform this role.

  5. In a world in which no judgment attaches to a choice someone would make about how much they do or don’t contribute, I’d say, Fine. Be open about it. But we don’t live in that world. I responded “Other” — explaining that I supported both “No” answers equally. (The polling software doesn’t allow multiple responses.)

  6. Oh my word, yes. I cannot think of a sensible reason not to. As well as key staff, Board members as needed and senior Lay volunteers (especially Finance Committee/Stewardship members). For our organizations to be successful, we need to give our paid and volunteer staffs as many tools as possible and remove as many unnecessary restrictions as possible. I do believe that beyond this inner circle, we should be extremely discreet regarding actual giving levels and focus more on levels of commitment so as not to send unintended economic class messages in public.

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