It began slowly. A couple of members left the Church, but the Pastor knew if he would explain the situation to his congregation they could make up the small deficit that would hit the Church because of the couple’s tithes. Unfortunately it did not cease. More began to leave. The Pastor discovered himself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place;” between paying the utility bill or the quarterly payroll taxes. Unfortunately he chose the former. This pressure is felt everyday in Churches all across America.
Almost every problem in a church is directly or indirectly motivated by the same factor. MONEY! Ecclesiastes 10:19 declares that “money answers all things.”
In his book, Burned but not Out, Dr. Ronnie Shaw stated that the number one cause of stress, depression and burn out for a Pastor is finances. The following statistics quoted by Dr. Shaw are issues that could be alleviated if there was no financial pressure upon the man of God:
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
- The Average Church uses 82% of its annual budget for personnel, buildings and administration expenses.
When the financial pressure begins its escalation upon the Pastor, it begins to affect the way he or she will preach. It was a familiar story that I had heard time and again from many Pastors. They knew God was really directing them in a certain direction for the Sunday Service, but because of the financial issues facing the Pastor, they decided to shift to Plan B and preach on money issues in hopes of receiving a larger than normal offering. I visited one Pastor’s Church on the upper east coast to preach. As I headed to the pulpit to preach the Mother’s Day Sermon for him, he informed me that I needed to forget about the Mothers because he needed money – the bills were past due and salaries were on the verge of being affected. He was relying upon me to replace God’s plan with his plan.
Fear is dangerous for anyone, especially a Pastor. It begins to formulate in his or her mind that and often causes the Pastor to react instead of act, and may drive him or her to consider leaving the ministry, become depressed and burned out, or worse begin to steal from the Church to supplement his already meager salary.
Money issues are a powder keg for any Pastor that will lead to accounting mismanagement and possibly illegalities. Pastor R. thought he had nothing for which to worry; after all his Church only had five members. However, his accounting practices were at best sloppy, but mostly illegal.
Most of the preachers in America that have been incarcerated have been so because of money issues – either Church or personal related.