Clif Christopher, at the event in Manasquan this past April, said the leaders of the church need to be examples of great stewardship before the congregation will be one of great stewardship. He was using this as one illustration of why the pastor needs to know what the members are giving … if the chair of the stewardship or finance committee, for instance, gives nothing or only pittance, the whole congregation is affected … by the either the low expectation or the hypocrisy of the leadership.
So, what does this say about a pastor’s giving? Well, again, according to Christopher, the pastor should model faithful giving. He even said that it’s appropriate for the pastor to announce to the congregation what (in a dollar amount) they are pledging/giving to the congregation. As a pastor of a congregation, I never announced the dollar amount of what I gave or pledged, but I did give a percentage … And when we weren’t up to a tithe, I’d be honest and say something like, “As a family we are working on some debt issues or paying college tuition, but, even so, we are able to pledge at the half-tithe (5%) level. We expect that will increase as our financial lives become more stable.” Modeling the kind of giving we expect of our congregations is extremely important for a pastor.
What about the presbytery? I’ve been thinking … what is my role in giving as a presbytery leader? This year I have made both the Presbytery of New Brunswick and the Presbytery of Monmouth recipients of a portion of my tithe. As a pastor I am not a member of any particular church. My husband and I give to the Allentown Presbyterian Church since he’s a member there, but my membership lies with the presbyteries. So, it’s important to me to include the presbyteries as a portion of our total tithe.
I didn’t think of this myself. Though I did give regularly to the Presbytery of New Covenant when I was a member there, it was a pastor in Monmouth who mentioned her financial support of the presbytery that challenged me to make it a priority here. If presbyteries are funded primarily out of per capita giving of congregations … a teaching elder (pastor) is not included in the membership assessment or giving to the presbytery. So, it makes quite a lot of sense for pastors to give to the presbyteries of which they are a member as well as the congregation they serve or attend.
So, I am issuing a challenge to pastors to include their presbytery in their tithe or giving plan … let’s tithe a tithe … My pledge to each presbytery is approximately 1% of my income (that’s 10% of 10%). Will you consider a 1% gift as well?