Should Pastors Know What People Give?
Does such information create temptation toward favoritism, or a needed discipleship tool?

A question on's Google Group asked whether pastors should know who gives what to the church. Is it primarily an issue of privacy, potential partiality, or accountability and pastoral care?

According to attorney Frank Sommerville, churches "should examine job and committee descriptions to determine who qualifies under a need-to-know standard." The reason: donor privacy. Those who have access "need to agree to a privacy policy requiring them to keep all donor information private and use it solely to perform their church duties," he says.

Churches must decide whether the pastor needs to know, such as for providing specific counsel and spiritual development tied to members' tithing. Once the church determines who has access, it needs to disclose this to the congregation so that donors "will have a realistic expectation of privacy," Sommerville says.

Here is how three members say their churches handle this question:

This article first appeared in our sister publication, Leadership Journal. Click here to read the rest.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Recent Posts
Subscribe to Church, Law & Tax
Confronting Peer Abuse in Your Church

Confronting Peer Abuse in Your Church

Learn how to watch and protect the children under your care from peer abuse at church.
Employment and Tax Status of Clergy

Employment and Tax Status of Clergy

With this tool, pastors can understand their tax status and systemize their payments.