Why staff don’t take gifts

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:

  1. It’s unlawful (unless your declare the value of the gift when you do your tax).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Compare Giving Income to budget, not to expenses

A budget is an agreed target for income and an agreed target for expenses. So what happens if your income is less than your expenses?

If you talk about income vs expenses, then the obvious question will be, “how are we going to lower our expenses to match income?”

But if you talk about budgeted (or target) income vs budgeted (or targeted) expenses, it slightly changes the game.

Yes, many people won’t be aware of the difference, in which case you should make it clear. The income didn’t fall below expenses, it fell below our agreed income target (budget). The expenses didn’t creep above our income, it crept about out agreed expenses target (budget).

That way, the right question gets asked… Did we set the budget to low or too high? How will we set the target next year? What did we agree on, and what should we agree on going forward?