Sam Rainer on Four Key Safeguards to Ensure Your Church’s Finances Stand Up Under Scrutiny

Money is one of the most sensitive subjects in the church. It’s also one of the most visible.

Many churches publish two sets of numbers weekly: worship attendance and giving. There it is, front and center — how many attended and the collective amount they gave. Despite the visibility, churches can struggle with the right amount of financial oversight.

There are horror stories, for sure. The unassuming secretary who stole six figures over ten years. The usher who swiped cash every week out of the plate. The lead pastor who abused church credit cards. These situations occur. What’s often missed, however, are the more subtle misuses of church finances.

Major spending outside of the budget. Every year our church approves a budget. The approval is not just for an overall amount but also categories of ministry—children, students, worship, missions, etc. Most churches work this way. When an unbudgeted and major expense arises, there should be an approval process. Abuses occur when there is no process. I know a pastor who once spent $65,000 on a plan to feed every person in the town a thanksgiving meal. The money was not budgeted, and he went ahead with the plan without asking anyone.

Using part of the budget for unintended purposes. You should not use the copier maintenance line item in the budget to fund a shortfall for the student ski trip. Designated accounts are commonly abused as well and can only be used for their intended purpose. These kinds of accounting flaws occur far too often in churches.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Sam Rainer

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