In the Genesis song, Jesus He Knows Me, whenever Genesis perform it live, Phil Collins starts with a long drawn out offering for millions. The stereotype of a pastor behaving badly with money sadly has a lot of examples that back it up. We need to realize that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6.10) and that love of money doesn’t stop producing evil just because someone is a pastor or fivefold minister!
Misusing finances is one of the things that can cost you your ministry, indeed even just looking like you have misused the money can cost you your ministry! All ministers need to adopt certain attitudes and principles. You will no doubt be criticized anyway by somebody, especially if you have a lot of money – but you can minimize people speaking against you and protect yourself from damaging words.
- Tithe and give big yourself. Never be a stingy pastor. Lead your people as a big giver. If you ask people to tithe and you do not tithe, you are a hypocrite and a con-man. You do not really believe in the tithe, you just want the tithes of other people. This sounds so obvious, but I know many pastors who do not tithe or give!
- Do not take tithe or offering money. Don’t put it in your pocket, don’t take it into your house, don’t keep it “safe”. Do not count the offering yourself.
- Do not count the money in public. Some immature people will just see a lot of money and not realize what it costs to run a big ministry. Other people – and I have seen this happen – will be tempted to rob the church!
- If you get a large personal gift, please consider carefully if there are strings attached to it. Some people give to manipulate you to going their way. Not everyone, maybe not even most people, but it does happen. Do be aware!
- Do not borrow, especially from someone in the church! Do not borrow from the church account. If you cannot pay it back, and until you pay it back, you have actually stolen from the church. Do NOT borrow money from people in your church, ever! Do not borrow their car, do not borrow their TV, do not borrow anything. They will lend you willingly, but ultimately you will go down in their estimation. Do not covet what anyone in your church has!
- Be very secretive about your personal prayer requests for money. Do not use a prayer request to manipulate people to give to you personally!
- NEVER act as a guarantor or such for anyone in your church. This is something people often ask – will you co-sign my loan, please pastor? Listen – if the bank which specializes in money says “this person is not good enough to lend money to”, then the bank is right. You are wrong if you co-sign that loan. You are going to end up paying that money at some point without fail. You may even end up in court! Proverbs 11.15 in the NLT says: There’s danger in putting up security for a stranger’s debt; it’s safer not to guarantee another person’s debt.
- If someone in the church needs an emergency loan, give them a gift you can give, do not loan to them. That way if they pay it back, it’s just a nice bonus. When you lend money, and you want it back, you may find that person suddenly led “by the Spirit” to another church!
- Never favour rich people in your church. I saw a guest speaker once in my church fawn over businessmen and doctors in the church. It made me want to vomit! Such relationships will be unstable.
- Never ever ever ever ever ever ever charge for ministering to someone, for praying for someone or for prophesying over someone. Yes, it happens, it happens all over charismatic Christianity and it is wrong, wrong and more wrong!
- Don’t ask people in your church how much they earn or own. That’s just rude and people will wonder why you ask.
- Do not broadcast your salary and benefits publicly. People may get jealous, or angry! People may think a pastor should not have anything or earn anything.
- Do not preach in a way that implies you need more money. You may gain short-term gifts and pity, but long-term you will lose respect and momentum.
I hope this helps every pastor win financially and avoid financial scandals.