The Pastor’s Example
I wasn’t planning to write on this subject. However, the other day I received an email from a congregational leader I’ve known over the years. It is reproduced below, edited only to protect the identity of the author, congregation and pastor concerned.
I have been given the uncomfortable task of trying to organize a stewardship committee in a dysfunctional congregation. Like so many Eastern Synod churches, our congregation is going through a difficult time financially and trying to start an effective committee probably will not be possible until our current crisis has been resolved. But I do have a lingering question which I would like to see addressed by Synod, if possible, regarding pastoral stewardship.
The question involves ongoing giving to a congregation by their pastor. This has been troubling be me for a while since I became financial secretary of our congregation. Perusing our records, I have noticed that our pastor and spouse have given next to nothing back to the congregation to help meet the operational requirements of the church. This trend has continued to the present.
While consulting our previous financial secretary to ascertain his experiences with the current pastor and previous pastors regarding donations, I was told that previous pastors had been generous in their givings to the congregation’s financial health. But he noted that he had not recorded any operational funds given by our pastor. So there is a consistency in the pastor’s giving habits since being called to our congregation.
To finally get to my question(s), what can a congregation expect in the way of donations from their pastor to the financial health of his or her congregation? Does Synod set down any financial expectations or guidelines for pastors to try to meet in their call? Does the Seminary teach prospective ministers about sustaining stewardship support from pastors towards their congregations? I have noted that there is nothing about pastoral stewardship in any of the missives which you have composed for your Stewardship and Resource Development blog. Perhaps it is assumed that pastors are giving as they are able. Perhaps this is a subject upon which you could do some research and consultation, and post an article in your blog.
When I see the generous level of compensation which our pastor has received from us and the perceived lack of respect and support for the congregation it makes me ill. I am sorry to lay this on you but this subject, as you have mentioned in one of your blogs, is not being discussed in congregations any more. As a matter of fact, other than myself, no one in our congregation knows who gives what to the church and our current pastor has never asked me for any information on this subject. So addressing financial stewardship as an obligation of both those in the pews and those in the pulpit should be a more common topic of interest within the church as a whole.
What is your reaction to this email? Does it describe a unique situation? Or is it common enough that it needs to be addressed by . . . whom?