By Thom Rainer
If you have served in church leadership for several years, you have likely heard this statement: “You know who pays the bills at the church.”
The statement is one of the most insidious, destructive, and ungodly statements a member can make. It says much about the attitude of the member and the group he or she represents. There is nothing good that can come from this statement. Just look at some of the implications of this attitude:
- It is an attitude of selfishness. The giver with this attitude looks at his or her gifts to the church with a closed fist instead of an open hand. Money is given conditionally, not sacrificially or unconditionally: “It’s my money, not God’s money.”
- It is an attitude of entitlement. Gifts to the church are more like country club dues. “Since I pay my money, I get my perks and benefits. I get things my way. And if I don’t get things my way, you just watch me stop paying my dues.”
- It is an attitude of divisiveness. Those who express such statements are already creating schisms in the church. The big givers are in one group, and the lesser givers are in another. It’s us versus them. “Those other people don’t deserve an opinion, because we pay more than they do.”
- It is an attitude of bullying. The statement is always a threat. It is usually directed at the pastor or some other leader in the church. “You do things my way or just watch what I’ll do to you.” It’s intimidation and bullying at its worst.
- It is an attitude of superiority. The person who makes this statement is the Pharisee who lets the world know how “godly” he or she is. “Look at how much I give. I must be blessed by God. And this church is blessed by me. You wouldn’t want me to withhold my blessings, would you?”
- It is an attitude of ungodliness. The Enemy loves to hear such statements. When he hears church members say they pay the bills, he knows they are focused on themselves and not Christ. He knows they are divisive instead of instruments of unity. The Enemy knows he’s winning when these contemptible words flow from the mouths of church members.
Yes, I know churches can expend funds in imperfect ways. Yes, I know all churches need systems of accountability and checks and balances with their finances. Yes, I know some churches need greater transparency with their budgets and spending.
But there is absolutely no excuse for making threats with the money you and others have given to the church. Such an attitude gives no glory to God.
It is one of the most destructive statements a church member can make. It is spoken too often in too many churches. And, if the attitude is allowed to continue, it becomes a cancer that will kill and destroy.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on Oct. 8. 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 ten grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.