Nine Concerns about Church Members Who Withhold Their Financial Gifts

medium_6859392170 By Thom Rainer

The story is too common, but I hear such stories repeatedly. My most recent conversation was with a church leader where an affluent church member offered to make a large contribution to the renovation of the worship center. He had one stipulation: the worship center had to be named in memory of his late mother. The leader politely declined. The affluent member did not make the donation. To the contrary, he began withholding all of his gifts to the church.

Almost every pastor and church leader has some story about members withholding their financial gifts as an act of protest about the direction of the church and its leadership. I have never known such a situation that had any positive affect. Such is the reason I offer nine concerns about this practice.

  1. It assumes that we are the actual owners of our finances. That is unbiblical thinking. God gives to us everything we have. We are the stewards of these gifts. Such is the reason we use the word “stewardship.”
  2. No church is perfect. If every member protested about an imperfection in a local congregation, no church would ever receive funds. This selfish act is not the way to resolve concerns.
  3. This practice is divisive. One of the most precious resources of any congregation is unity. The withholding of financial gifts is an act of disunity and divisiveness.
  4. It is controlling. The church member who withholds financial gifts seeks to get his or her way. Such is not the spirit of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”
  5. It is self-serving. When Paul penned 1 Corinthians 12, he emphasized how we are to function in the body of Christ. Our motive for serving is for Christ and others before ourselves.
  6. It is demoralizing. Paul wrote in Romans 14:19, “So we must pursue what promotes peace and builds up one another.” This practice has the opposite effect.
  7. It backs church leaders into a corner. Leaders have one of two options. They can yield to the church member and thus affirm a sinful practice. Or they can refuse to yield and continue the conflict that was started by the member. It is a lose-lose situation.
  8. If the church member truly has serious disagreements with the direction of the church, he or she should pursue other paths. They can address their concerns with leaders in the church directly. If members still have serious concerns and no resolution seems possible, it may be best to go to another church. It is much healthier to give to another church than to withhold from your present church.
  9. This practice never has a positive outcome. Even if the member gets his or her way, unity and trust are broken at many levels. The body of Christ is always wounded by this practice.

This topic is both sensitive and challenging. I certainly am not the fount of wisdom. Let me hear your thoughts and ideas.

 

ThomRainer

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on February 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

5 comments

  • I agree with you all the way. We are to give thinking we should get something back, or give assuming we would be praise or acknowledge by others, but we should give to the church as a cheerful giver and not to worry how the church and the officials of the church use the monies…They are responsible to God for what they do with it….Just give and do God’s will…Another topic is that many people ask God for a job, and their first check should be the first-fruits to God, and they don’t even do that, because they think if they do, they will some how fall into a deep debt, not so, it is the opposite, you shall see the rewards ten fold, trust the Word of God and me, it is God’s working, fear of losing, worrying, and many other factors of the enemy is not of God…SO JUST BE A CHEERFUL GIVER…..AND NOT ONLY THE CHURCH, BUT HOSPITALS, ORPHANAGES, ETC…THEY NEED HELP IN FINANCES ALSO…..AS LONG AS YOU GIVE YOUR 10%, AND MORE IF YOU WISH, YOU ARE IN THE REWARD PAGE IN GOD’S BOOK…BUT DON’T DO IT FOR THAT, JUST DO IT…….GOD BLESS

  • Ps John Wolfenden

    I am amazed that the 10% issue is raised, the spirit of liberality goes beyond the OT tithe mentality. As to where we are to place our liberal giving for the kingdom is speculative as the so called store house under the OT is somewhat different under the dispensation of grace in the NT. Giving is a reflection of our dedication and commitment to His message, the more we are dedicated and committed the more we give, even to the point of giving beyond normal budget boundaries. Our giving is also attached to our love of Him. “The church” is not simply the building which people congregate in, it is far more reaching than that. we should all give until it hurts, because that is when faith takes over. I love Him and His word

  • J. Adriaan Venter

    Dear Thom,
    I used to give my 10th of income to the church but had a couple of problems which are as follows;
    The Pastors were having too many overseas holiday tours per year;
    They were driving the most expensive cars, almost a new one every year.
    They were spending money on non-essentials, things we, the contributors can’t afford.

    I now stopped giving to the church and is assisting our own poor family’s and orphanges directly; etc.

    Is it biblically wrong? please advice!!

    Your brother in Christ,

    Adriaan

  • Lawrence Bennett

    Adrian, I am sorry that your pastor’s don’t measure up. My Dad was a pastor–we always drove a well-used old car and the only over-seas travel he had was a tour of duty to Guadalcanal in WWII as a chaplain. Pastors’ wages then were not much. But now some pastors are in the prosperity mentality and don’t live so humbly. I suggest finding a church with a pastor who has more modest tastes. As to the cars, what comes to mind is that perhaps the pastor is leasing–a pastor’s car gets lots of use and it may be more economical for the pastor to turn in a car every couple of years. But if you are attending a church, you should support it financially and be a happy giver. Someone still has to support the infrastructure and the basics of keeping the lights on and insurance paid. And one of my most meaningful trips was to Israel and Jordan with my pastor and church members. Quite a pilgrimage–I recommend such a trip.

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