“Dear Pastor”…. Purchasing Stewardship vs Member Interest

Content by Rev. Paul Johnson, CCA

This is a series of articles about real world problems that churches often find difficult to handle. They are presented in the form of emails for ease of conversation but can come in many different ways.

Disclaimer: All the names are made up and in no way identify actual people nor does the author assume responsibility for the opinion expressed in the response.

Office supplies

Reading this email you will quickly feel the conflict. It may not be office supplies but anything that the church purchases that has competition for member’s personal interests or businesses. As a Pastor you find yourself conflicted about support of congregational members and the stewardship of the gifts and tithes that the church receives. Sometimes this is a “no brainer” and other times it requires careful thought and consideration and making some hard choices.

Members who want to make a part of their stewardship giving their church significant discounts on items that the church deems as a need is a “no brainer” decision. It gets harder when the difference is about the members ego and the budget restraints of the church. Insurance is another frequent point of conflict. Even then be sure that you perform due diligence to insure that the “discount” is in fact a discount.

Making the problem even more difficult is when the competition is within the congregations members. Two or three insurance agents all vying for the churches business is not uncommon.

Once again it is my advice to have committees designated for making decisions to resolve conflict or perceived conflict and have written policies as to how the church will proceed created and approved by an official body of the church. This will remove the personality of the Pastor from the decision and allow the Pastor to be pastoral.

None the less this can be a big landmine and I advocate establishing a rule that the church does not make purchasing decisions based on membership in all cases. The major caveat is that you must be consistent. The congregation must trust the process so if your brother-in-law is a roofing contractor be sure that you either tell him not to bid on a church project or be sure that you have a great deal of distance in the decision making process.

Hopefully purchasing is not a pastoral duty and a committee does most of the decision making.


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