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?
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
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.
Pastor Larry Bjorklund – Joplin, MO
Leaders need to set the standard. Are you willing to lose this person by challenging (questioning) them about the issue? I believe the Bible is clear on the issue.
We had a leader get caught up in gambling and the wife would write their tithe check and after service he would go and make an excuse to get it back and said that he would give it to the secretary. He never did. Pastor found out, approached in love, wife was furious, yet followed him out the church as he left. Now, we teach, but it is between them and God.
Keep such a person away from all finances.
Pastor Edwin Anderson – High Springs, FL
Our church policies require that everyone in a leadership or ministry position, other than entry-level or mid entry-level helps, be a tither. That goes for volunteer as well as paid staff. The question as to how involved the pastor should be in setting and monitoring these types of policies make me wonder what type of church government is in place. My situation is such that as pastor, I am the head of the local church and have the last word on all policies and practices. I have a system of monitoring the tithing of all leaders, and insist they all maintain consistent tithing habits.
Pastor David Emigh – Sand Springs, OK
I want to take this opportunity to say that all pastors and churches should be involved in tithing. I am amazed at how many churches, ministries and ministers do not personally tithe. My wife and I have always been one of the most faithful tithers in our church. From the very start of our church ten percent was set aside to feed the poor and for world missions.
I personally will not have any employee on staff who does not tithe. It is a part of our employee policy handbook. When we do our Welcome to the Family class, which is our membership class, we clearly share that tithing is a part of being a member of our church.
I articulate this in all of our leaders meetings from time to time. Our leaders know this is expected of them. If I found out a high profile leader was not tithing and giving I would prayerfully find a way to approach them. I know this can be a sensitive thing, but if a person is a leader in my church they must financially support the church. I share quite often that we are a faith organization and we operate by tithes and offerings and people know this is something they must be involved in to be a part of our leadership team.
If there are circumstances that have affected people’s lives and therefore their giving, I take that into consideration. But if you want to be a leader, you must be involved in tithing. I trust this will help someone.
Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
Obviously, anyone who has served God for any length of time and has been a tither and giver knows the benefits of having your finances in the Lord’s system vs. the world’s system. I want all of the people who attend my church to be tithers. I don’t have any selfish motive for this. God’s Word is true! He rebukes the devourer from our finances and we can speak the Word in faith over our finances when we haven’t robbed Him. People don’t understand that they are giving up a benefit when they don’t tithe. I would not want this world’s system to be the hope for my financial future. If a person is having doubts and feeling guilt because they haven’t tithed, then they can’t get into faith anyway. They will completely miss God’s blessing. If it is a case of a leader or anyone else in the church not understanding and having never been taught about tithing, then we, as pastors need to live up to the responsibility of teaching on this subject from time to time.
I pray about whom to install as leaders in our church. I do my best to give the Spirit of God plenty of time to instruct me before approaching someone. If I were told that a leader was no longer tithing or had never tithed, I would be concerned for them and wonder what stumbling block had tripped them up in their thinking. I might have a general meeting with them first and talk about a variety of subjects. During this, I would listen to the Holy Spirit and listen to them for clues of what was in the abundance of their heart. I might throw in a recent testimony concerning a financial blessing and link it back to tithing and giving offerings and share the goodness of God. I would give God every chance to be God. I don’t want to be God or the Holy Spirit. I do want to continue to be a Spirit-led pastor. I want to trust God to work this out in His timing so that it will benefit the leader and his family and when that happens, then and only then will it benefit the church.
I would have to know that God spoke to me specifically to ask the person directly about their finances. If I were led to do that, then I would be obedient and trust the spirit of God to give me the correct words. I want to encourage you to pray for your leaders. Ask God to bless them and give them harvests for their efforts for the kingdom of God. Ministry of helps is only successful when it actually HELPS!
As far as in church policies, I would have in writing that tithing and financial support for our church was expected of anyone who would like to serve in our church.
Pastor Michael Steward – Powell, OH
This is a great question. We too had this exact situation arise. From the onset of the church, we have always communicated our expectations to leaders and that included that they be faithful in tithing. Our number one priority when it comes to leadership in the church is that we want their heart to be connected to our church. The Bible declares that where your money is your heart will be also (Matt 6:21, Luke 12:34). For us, it isn’t a money issue rather a heart issue. So with that in mind, we launched into the following steps.
First, we wanted to find out if they were just operating out of ignorance. The only way we could address this clearly was to meet with them. We started the meeting talking extensively about the heart of the issue and why we were addressing it and not the technical aspects of tithing. We wanted their heart. They communicated to us that their heart was with us and they were not in a good financial situation. They wanted to start tithing and we talked about a plan to get them up to bringing the full tithe. To make a long story short, not surprisingly, the Scripture proved to be true…where your money is so is your heart. They were not with us and ended up leaving the church.
I think it is very important that you talk to them about this, especially since they are a leader. We have a policy in place for our leaders and we include it in a manual for them to keep. We also talk about this in membership. Even though we are not dogmatic about it with members, at least everyone knows our culture. This subject is included in all helps ministry manuals, from ushers to children’s workers etc., always being addressed from the heart perspective. I personally do not monitor who gives or does not give. This helps me look at people objectively. However, when it comes to leadership I want to know their tithing history…once again, heart issue. If they are not tithing, then they are not ready for our leadership team. What we have found out is that people will rise to standards if they have a true understanding of this issue.
Rev. Matt Beemer – Manchester, England
Yes, speak to the leader and ensure they understand the principal of the tithe. The important thing, however, is that people tithe from their heart – so your goal is to release faith in the leader’s heart to tithe. You will know very soon enough by the leader’s response to your bringing up the subject, if this is a lack of understanding, or an attitude of the heart that reveals the person should no longer be in leadership.
I personally never checked the giving records as I thought it would affect my ability to lead impartially. However, it is a fact that a person gives his money where his/her heart is. Almost every leader who caused us serious trouble, when we checked, we found they were not tithing.
Even so, and it may be the hard way of doing things, I want people to give from their hearts. Not because I ‘require’ them to as a leader in the ministry. Therefore, I endeavored to teach and model giving and then promote those who show the same attitude toward giving that I have.
Rev. Rob Wynne – Linden, AL
I know of a pastor who didn’t tithe to his church. I believe that God will eventually be able to reach him. At least Galatians 6:7, 8 assures us that God will not be mocked; that you or I will get what we sow.
I have worked with people who should be tithing and do not, although, over a period of time they normally end up doing what is right. I deal with tithing and giving of offerings every Sunday. I let God deal with them.
If you institute a policy, will it be legal? I’m not sure that we can legally force any employee or volunteer to give their tithe. I would first make sure by questioning my accountant on the issue. I normally try to investigate someone before I place them in visible positions.
I would be more concerned with where this employee’s heart is. The fact that they have tithed and now are not tithing is only a symptom of what could be a greater problem. I would first quietly check to see if they are in trouble with their finances or if there is something else brewing before I had a confrontation with them. If they are just disgruntled, it will probably show up. After running into other ministers, I found that the pastor who was not tithing to his church was disgruntled with where the Lord had placed him and how things were going.
Pastor Mark Garver – Madison, AL
I do think there should be criteria for any volunteer leader and all paid staff; and I believe that tithing should be one of those criteria. I believe that if a person steals from God, what will keep them from stealing from you? I am not just talking about finances, but in many areas of the church. It seems to me that not tithing is a sign of disloyalty, disobedience, and hardness of heart and it will show up other places in the church. Before I entered the pastorate I was the office manager of my home church and the pastor told me to tell him when someone quit tithing as it was a sure sign of a problem. I have found that to be true. I personally do not look at the giving records. I do not know the amount that anyone has ever tithed or given to our church, but before I put someone in a leadership position I always check to see that they are tithers. I will not put anyone in a volunteer leadership position unless they are tithers. I just ask my bookkeeper if they tithe and they give me a yes or no. That is all I ask.
If they are already in a leadership position or on staff and I find out they do not tithe, then I would want to find out what is going on. If they are a leader in the church, you should have a good enough relationship with them that you can ask them some open ended questions about what is going on. Find out if they are in financial difficulty. Find out where their heart is. The Bible says where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. I have found that when people quit tithing it is sometimes an indication that their heart is no longer with this ministry. But I don’t think you should automatically assume they are in rebellion. I would always go into a meeting with the attitude of pastoring them instead of accusing them. If their heart in no longer with the church or you; not tithing could be a symptom of the root problem and for both of your sakes and the church’s, I would think you would want to know now rather than later. There could also be financial problems or other reasons for them not tithing.
I think in a smaller church this is easier to monitor, but more uncomfortable to maintain. I would implement a policy and carry it forward for the next group of volunteer leaders you appoint. If you are hiring someone, I do not know if you can point-blank ask them if they will be tithing to the church, but I would ask them if they believe in the biblical principal of tithing.
Dr. Dan Beller – Tulsa OK
First of all, I would have a policy in place for Leaders that tithing is required because it is Biblical (Jesus said not to leave tithing “undone”) and because the leaders are to be an example to others. However, tithing is not just to keep a “rule,” but it is a Biblical necessity to prosper. We give the Lord’s tithes because it is Scriptural and so that individuals and the congregation may enjoy Biblical prosperity.
If employees are members of the respective church, they should be required to tithe and if they are members of another church, they should tithe to their church. The reasons are the same as those in the first paragraph.
If there are leaders who were in place before the tithing requirement policy, the Sr. Pastor should have a meeting with them, individually, to get their views on tithing and discuss whether it is Biblical. Tithing was in effect before the Law and so we cannot say that it is just a part of the Law and now doesn’t apply. Jesus still affirmed that it is still God’s will. This discussion should examine all the blessings of tithing and not just keeping the “rule.”
Pastor Ray Almaguer – Glendora, CA
This can be a very touchy subject to bring up with your leader. Have you made your expectations known regarding tithing to your leadership? In my experience, if you just assume that they know your expectations, you are sadly mistaken. If you haven’t already made it clear that you expect your leaders to tithe, you probably shouldn’t be too surprised when you discover that some of them aren’t.
If tithing hasn’t been a leadership requirement in the past, you might not want to bring it up with him. In fact, you may not need to. If I were in this situation, I would schedule a leadership training night for all current and prospective leaders. I would make it fun and have some interaction. I would teach a lesson on leadership. Then I would go over the leadership requirements in our church. This would be on a handout. Tithing would be on the list, and I would teach the entire list with equal emphasis on each point. Then I would ask if there were any questions. If one of the leaders has a problem with tithing, he probably wouldn’t raise the issue in front of the group, but he would probably ask me about it in private. Then I would have an opportunity to share with him in more detail why this is a requirement of leadership in our church.
How strongly do you feel about this? In our church, we let the leaders know before they ever come on board that we expect them to lead by example, and this includes tithing. Even so, a few years ago I also discovered that one of our leaders wasn’t tithing, and when I brought it up to them in private, it didn’t go very well, even though they already knew it was an expectation of leadership. The last thing you want to do is have a falling out with a leader over this issue, especially if you have not made it clear that you expect them to tithe.
In the future, you may want to consider adding this to your list of leadership expectations. It’s very difficult to make things retroactive. I believe it’s much better to let people know on the front-end exactly what is expected of them.
Pastor Judi Tillett – Waynesville, MO
My first concern would be WHY the leader does not tithe. For a person in any congregation to be “visible,” they first need to be vital… (vital defined as “concerned with or necessary to the maintenance of life”) … and that should include giving your heart to the Lord with the tithe. The first move should be to have a loving conversation with the leader and determine what has ‘altered’ in their life if they were a tither, and to ‘altar’ their life if they have not been a tither. “Where your treasure is there will be your heart also.” Is this person fully with you… are they disregarding or desperate in the financial realm… does their mate handle the finances and they are perhaps unaware they are not tithing … etc.? Once the reason is discovered, then, in my opinion, you have some strong decisions to make. I firmly believe that visible leaders, paid by the church or volunteer, should be totally involved with the “maintenance of life” to the Body.
We do believe in and have written policies for leadership requirements; one of those is to be a tither, and we even have our financial people check on this episodically to be a help to leadership and their accountability. Financial prosperity and accountability strengthen your Body.
Pastoral involvement should include making the policies, having them written and possibly being the person who shares with leadership the covenant care and commitment of the tithe. No one will care for their heart and welfare like the pastor and that shepherding aspect is difficult to delegate.
Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA
Should I speak to the leader about this or leave it alone?
The answer depends on the expectations of leadership and if these expectations were communicated before placing this individual in a highly visible position.
Should I have some kind of policy in place regarding tithing for our leaders and workers?
If a Pastor expects leaders and workers to tithe, he needs to make this known through effective communication. Since less than 7% of Christians tithe, chances are many volunteer leaders and workers aren’t tithing. To correct this, the Pastor should take responsibility for teaching on the importance of tithing. If it’s a church policy, this must be stated before promoting someone to a highly visible position.
For Church Employees?
Jesus revealed in Luke 16:10-13 the heart of someone He would be able to trust and use. He is faithful in small matters, in his financial resources and in helping another man succeed. On one occasion, one of my church employees didn’t tithe. He also proved to be unfaithful in small matters. His heart wasn’t in helping me succeed because he had his own agenda. He had to be terminated after every effort to correct this failed. I would never terminate an employee without giving him or her every opportunity to align himself with what Jesus taught on faithfulness. If a person can’t be trusted to honor God with his substance, he most likely can’t be trusted with the riches of the gospel of grace, which is of more value than gold, silver and precious stones. Paul said “moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful, I Cor. 4:2.” Therefore requiring leaders to be faithful is following what God’s Word teaches.
Monitoring the giving of church staff is done by another staff employee who is faithful beyond the tithe. He is faithful in small things, finances and in helping me succeed. This prevents me from being accused of being partial to those who give much. He will bring to my attention what needs to be addressed and whatever the situation is, it will be dealt with in love.
Pastor Tim Kutz – Bartlesville, OK
First of all, you must tithe! What you do will reflect in your people. It has been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. Leaders have a greater accountability that those who are not in that place. Not everyone in your church in the ministry of helps is in leadership, however.
People have to have a revelation of the tithe. This necessitates you teaching on this on a consistent basis. Introduce it in your membership/partner class and make membership contingent on several things, one being supporting the church financially with the tithe. People who do not agree to tithe should not be discouraged from attending, but they should not be granted membership status. Or you may want to have two classes of membership and call them: 1.) Partners and 2.) Friends.
Then there must be certain positions in the church that require partnership for a person to function in that role. All church employees who attend your church should be required to tithe. All staff members should be required to tithe, whether paid or volunteer. All persons in any teaching role should be required to tithe. Since the Bible reveals that one who doesn’t tithe is a “robber,” all persons involved with the offering must be required to tithe. You don’t want a “robber” handling church finances in any way.
There are many positions in the church that you may want to allow people to serve in even if they don’t tithe. Some examples would be: janitor, grounds keeping, hospitality, or maybe even greeter. As far as monitoring things, you have to start out that way.
As your church grows this can and should be delegated, but only to a most trustworthy person who can handle the knowledge of who tithes and who doesn’t. It has been my experience that those kind of people are rare. Because love covers a multitude of sins, you don’t want to expose a person’s shortcomings to another person in the congregation.