What is it with some people who think they can influence the pastor and the church with their giving? I mean… really. Do they think that the vision God has placed in the heart of the lead pastor is for sale?
I have heard it from far more than one of my client churches. A wealthy individual in the church attempts to influence the church’s direction with a threat related to their giving. It is also not uncommon to hear of an older person suggesting their giving level should give them the right to have their way on any number of issues.
Both have the mantra “Do it my way or I will pull my money and maybe leave the church.” Implied with this threat is that the church really needs them and their money. Of course, everyone is needed, but not at the expense of the vision of the church. By the way, I find it interesting that in the majority of cases, those who tout the high value of their giving to the church regularly overstate its dollar value. It’s not as high as they think.
One of the great privileges of a lead pastor is to be the receiver of the vision of the church from God. While the mission of the church to reach spiritually lost people is generally clear to most, the vision of how that mission is going to be accomplished can take many forms. On occasion, there are those who think that vision is up for grabs… and even for sale. It is not.
The wise and discerning lead pastor seeks the mind of the Lord for direction for the church. The equally wise and discerning lead pastor communicates the vision Vision 20 to leadership, not in a condescending or arrogant manner, yet confidently and humbly. The vision clearly comes through the leader.
It is imperative that the lead pastor clearly communicate the direction the church is pursuing both to the paid and lay leadership. In turn, clear and passionate communication should go to the body as a whole. It should not be just the latest and greatest idea from the man at the top; rather it must become part of the DNA of the church. Smart pastors take this communication process seriously as it has the capacity to make or break the vision.
Here’s the rub. There are times the vision or direction charted runs afoul of a lay leader or church constituent. This should not cause alarm. If a vision is big enough, it will take time for everyone to come on board. However, some ultimately will not buy in. Concern of this nature gives the lead pastor the opportunity to bring clarity and sometimes adjust nuances that are ancillary to the vision. Please note that this does nothing but strengthen the vision.
Although this is the exception and not the rule, sometimes people can feel that, because they give to the church, they have a right to determine the church’s direction. Sometimes, depending on the church’s governance structure, vision has to jump hoops to become reality. If this is your church, I would go to work on governance to get that fixed. This only slows down vision. You don’t see vision in scripture having to navigate a maze of committees to become reality.
Vision is given to the lead pastor. He is the conduit through which God gives direction to the church. I am not suggesting a dictatorship by the lead pastor, but I do suggest that vision is not given to the body as a whole, rather to the leader. Paid and lay leadership respond together to the vision and begin the process of moving forward.
When a person tries to exert influence over the pastor or church leadership, they are not following the proper line of spiritual authority and accountability. When they attempt this assertion of influence with the level of their giving, real or perceived, they have stepped way over the line. This is an issue of control. They would not say it this way but, in reality, they want to buy the vision. They want control. Not good.
The leader receives the vision and it is not for sale. Again, I am not suggesting an autocratic approach to vision but I am suggesting that members of the church do not have any authority to influence vision because of their giving. To think that they do indicates a misguided understanding of giving. It also exposes wrong motivation and an overly inflated view of self.