This is just one of the principles we made clear from the start with our staff. Staff don’t take gifts from the congregation.
There’s OK gifts like “let me buy you a coffee” or “It’s your birthday”… they are common gifts for people to give one another, regardless of position or authority.
It’s more about those gifts that are given in response to someone “being the pastor”. Things like, “I just wanted to say thanks for everything you’ve done”, or “I thought this would be really helpful to your future ministry”.
There’s a few reasons why:
- It’s unlawful (unless your declare the value of the gift when you do your tax).
- People’s hearts are very deceitful. They may not intend to, but the day may come when they think they have some right over you because they gave you this gift.
- Your heart is very deceitful. You may think it impossible, but the day may come when you give them special treatment because of the gift you were given.
- If they think that item is “valuable to your ministry” they should speak to your board/elders/etc. Otherwise, they are taking a gift that is meant “for the church” and rather than trusting God’s appointed leaders, they’re taking on themselves what should happen with that money/gift.
There is, however, scope for your board/elders/etc to approve gifts and things… that way there are other people who can keep you accountable in how you treat that person.