5 Types of Unhealthy Giving to a Church

Do you accept these types of giving? (Charisma Leader archives)

"I'm just happy when our church gets any type of gifts."

The comment came from a pastor whose church struggled regularly to meet budget. I get it. Any financial gift can seem better than no gifts.

But I have worked with dozens of churches where some types of financial or other gifts can actually hurt a church. Here are five of the most common examples, recognizing that some of them can overlap.

  1. Hostage gifts. Typically, these gifts come from members who are some of the biggest givers in the church. They remind the pastor and other leaders that the church would be hurt significantly if they stop giving. They use their giving as leverage to get their way with at least an implied threat of holding back funds if they don't.
  2. Spring cleaning gifts. The donor decides to bring something from home he or she no longer wants. They take a tax break and leave the item at the church. The problem is that some of these gifts are useless to the church. I consulted with one church that had five donated and never-used upright pianos. The pastor did not want to get rid of them, lest he offends the donors.
  3. Preference gifts. These financial gifts are designated and conditional. They are not contributed to a typical designated fund, such as a building fund. Instead, they are given with clear stipulations for the use of the funds, even though the church really can't benefit from them. One example was a six-figure gift specifically for stained-glass windows in a worship center that had no place to accommodate them.
  4. Workaround gifts. In one church I consulted, the student minister was not happy with the amount of funds for his ministry in the annual budget. He thus went to five families and asked them to divert their regular tithes and offerings to the student ministry.
  5. Gifts with strings. Though similar to hostage gifts, this attitude can be found in groups of people rather than one wealthy donor. A common example is an older group in the church refusing to vote for a budget that is contrary to their preferences. They remind all who will listen that "we pay the bills."

Of course, the seemingly simple response is to refuse to accept such gifts or to yield to unreasonable demands. But, for many of you who have encountered these situations, you know it's not always as simple as it seems.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 12 years, where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders