Q: Do you really have visibility into how much and where people are tithing to at Sunset?
A: Tithing is confidential thing at our church (and most churches) and I believe for good reason. Once it becomes known that someone is a “big giver” it becomes a challenge not to treat them with favoritism which the bible strongly forbids. I’ve unfortunately seen favoritism rear its ugly head in my short time in ministry and have seen leaders alter their course to please a group of people based upon the amount of $$$ they bring in. When I consider being a senior pastor one day the last thing I want to know about my flock is how much they are giving. As in every relationship, money can create alot of conflict. Now to the second part of your question, our budget is something that is voted on and approved by the members of our church. This information is available right down to how much money I am making (UPDATE: Since writing this post I learned that only the Senior Pastors salary is available, NOT mine). When people give above and beyond a general tithe, we can see the money is there but rarely do we know where the gift has come from. Personally I don’t like the idea of designated giving and prefer building enough trust in an organization that people allow their leaders to use the donations as they see fit. When funds are tied to a specific department (designation) it can often limit moving funds to another area when it becomes necessary. For more thoughts on this topic I encourage you to check out Gods words on it below from the book of James.
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My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor person in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the one wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the one who is poor, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:1-10TNIV