"For the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6: 10, KJV)
Something I'm finding very hard to get to grips with is the attitude of certain church communities towards finances. To me, the whole matter should be fairly straight-forward:
1. We bring our offerings to God, through the local church, in response to God's ultimate gift of love - our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
2. Two people receive the money collected, count it, record it in a collection journal, and bank it.
3. All money must be banked on time, in full. Collection journal = bank deposit slip = bank statement. Funds should be banked within two working days of receipt.
4. Any money spent must be duly authorised, in accordance with a properly-drafted budget. Unbudgeted expenses must be approved by the Leaders' Meeting, subject to funds being available and all bills being up to date.
5. TELL THE CONGREGATION WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE MONEY! It was offered for the work of the ministry through the local church. Is this what it is used for?
6. 90% of the congregants will NEVER look at a financial statement - they just want the assurance that one is available. Of the remaining 10%, 99% will look at the financials and file them. The remaining 1% will ask a question. Answer it truthfully and completely.
Six simple steps - yet churches are torn in two when we don't stick to these. Funds are not managed properly. They are not banked on time. The congregation is kept in the dark. Rumours start concerning financial mismanagement. Often where there's smoke, there's fire. Result: People stop giving.
Having only been involved with urban churches, I cannot say whether the following statement holds true for rural communities as well. But my own experience is this: Show me a financial problem, and I'll show you a spiritual one. I've yet to be proved wrong on this one.
Granted, things are tough out there at the moment, and giving will be impacted. Certain projects may have to be scaled back or postponed. But if the church is spiritually strong, processes are in place, the people involved have integrity, and there's transparency, the likelihood of such a church collapsing completely is probably quite low.
I could write reams on this subject, but this is probably a good "first log" to throw on the fire. Any takers? Comments, anyone?
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