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Question:

Leaders Who Don’t Tithe
I just discovered that one of our highly visible leaders (a volunteer) doesn’t tithe, and hasn’t tithed for some time.  Should I speak to the leader about this, or leave it alone?  Should I have some type of policy in place regarding tithing for our leaders and workers?  For our church employees?  How involved should I be in setting policies for this kind of thing, in monitoring it, or should I just leave it between the individuals and God?  What do other pastors do in this regard?

Responses:

Pastor John White – Decatur, AL
Church leaders who don’t tithe! Sounds hypocritical, doesn’t it? This is a very sticky subject when it comes to volunteers. Oftentimes volunteers are relatively new Christians with a lot of zeal and little knowledge. For that reason, you have to give them some slack. Proper teaching will most of the time correct the problem. Have special training classes for the volunteers and address this issue. Ignorance should be no excuse on behalf of a well-trained volunteer. A good salesman will tell you, it’s hard to sell a product you don’t believe in nor own yourself.

Paid staff is a different situation. I address this issue before they are employed. If they do not tithe, it is a very good sign that their job is only that, a job. During their yearly evaluation, address this issue. If they continue to be a non-tither it’s only a matter of time before they leave anyway. However, whether they stay or leave, you cannot trust that individual, especially if they handle any church funds. Their heart is not with you and you will not be able to promote nor place them in any major leadership position. I have also found that non-tithers are always the ones who stir up the most trouble. Therefore, you cannot ignore this eventual confrontation for the sake of your ministry.


Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
Great question!!!  And the Pastor's responses to last month's question were some of the best material I've read all year!

We have recently been grappling with the question of requiring leaders to tithe at our church.  So I'm very interested in reading the other Pastor's responses.  

In our case, we recently instituted a policy that all employees and volunteer leaders must tithe.  Why?

1.  It shows their faith in God

2.  It shows their commitment to the ministry

3.  It shows that they practice what they preach

4.  It shows their heart

5.  It shows their trust in God and shows you their trustworthiness


What Happened?

1.  One highly visible leader left.  It didn't impact our church finances, but new leaders emerged immediately who were much easier to work with and who were in it for God and not to be "seen".  That area of ministry improved a lot!

2.  Most were tithers already and this policy didn't impact them at all.

3.  Some emerging leaders have really had to grapple with this policy and it has kept us from placing our faith in the wrong people. 

4.  It has been an excellent tool to see who is ready for promotion and who is not.

5.  We did have to spend more time teaching on tithing to make sure everybody is on the same page.  We teach tithing before every offering, but this is a topic that we have taught from many different angles and on many different occasions.

6.  Tithing is giving to the Lord.  If they say they are, that's enough.  We don't require verification.

7.  Last, if someone is already a leader, but doesn't tithe yet, then consider the following.  You still want them in the church, but you may see they don't qualify as a true church leader.  We gave one leader three months to cut expenses and figure out a new budget that allowed them to tithe while encouraging increased giving along the way.  They succeeded.  They were blessed, and they stayed in leadership through the process.


Pastor Sam Smucker – Lancaster, PA
As far as volunteers (except for board members and volunteer leadership positions), I do not monitor their tithing or giving records.

When it concerns employees, I get a report every month which keeps me informed.  When an employee, especially a person in a leadership position, shows a pattern of not giving, I inquire to see if they have a financial crisis and see how we can help them.  Every once in a while I will stress in a staff meeting the importance of employees tithing because our paychecks come from people’s tithes.

When hiring someone especially in a leadership position, giving and tithing expectations are part of the discussion.  An employee, especially a person in a leadership position, needs to be supportive of the church vision, including financially.


Pastor Dennis Cummins – Puyallup, WA
For our church, I think it is a must if they are a Pastor on staff.  I think that a Pastor on staff that isn’t tithing is the basis of hypocrisy.  How can they possibly teach faith and exhort the people if they are unable to function in being obedient to the Lord?  They are in disobedience before God and that can bleed right into the blessing of the church.  It also tells me that their heart isn’t in the church.  As Pastors (in whatever capacity) we have to be held to a higher standard. 

How we have determined to monitor this is to have our book keeper watch for changes in the staff’s giving trends.  If there is a major shift in giving or if it stops all together over a 3-4 month period, then I want to know about it.  Otherwise I don’t personally get involved in the giving records.  It helps me stay objective when I preach.

Now how we deal with it?  I believe it is based on each situation.  I believe that they need to be approached to investigate what the situation is.  In some households, one of the spouses handles the bills, so the other person that is the Pastor may not know they aren’t tithing.  I had a youth pastor that quit tithing for a period of six months several years ago.  In our meeting, he knew that there was no excuse, so I gave him the opportunity to make up his tithes and I removed him (privately) from any interaction with the people from the platform on Sundays for six weeks.  Two months later they were gone.  It wasn’t easy, but it became obvious that his heart wasn’t in it.  Tithing is a heart issue, and unless their heart can be changed, I don’t want them on my team.

We set expectations with each staff member’s position agreement and non-disclosure agreement.  This includes the expectation of tithes is mandatory as well as the one hour rule; meaning they won’t leave our church to work at another church within an hours drive.




 

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