This article is another in our series about “5 Principles to Raise the Financial Management of your church for God’s Glory”. This time we focus on Principle 1 – We are called to be above reproach
What does it mean to be above reproach?
The Bible speaks of being “above reproach” or “blameless” as one of the distinctive marks of those who aspire to the office of leader/overseer in the church (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6–7). Leaders include any elder, warden, deacon, clergy and non-clergy, staff and volunteer and male and female. Their work for the church, as well as their interactions with others, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus. This holds true not only within the church but also outside the church. Being above reproach is an unconditional prerequisite for a leadership role in the church. Above reproach means that the leader’s life is free from sinful habits or behaviours that would impede their setting the highest Christian standard and model for the church to emulate (Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3). Similarly, the leader must not give cause for those outside the church to impugn its reputation. Being above reproach means that no-one can honestly bring a charge or accusation against them (Acts 25:7; 1 Peter 3:16).
Keys for “above reproach” church financial management:
1. In the area of financial management, all those involved in managing the finances of the church are overseers of the church’s assets.
Managing the finances of a church:
- directly affects the ability of the church to pay her bills as they occur
- significantly affects the reputation of the church internally and in the wider community
- facilitates or inhibits the ability of church to fulfil her mission and calling.
2. Above reproach requires us to be accountable and transparent at the highest level.
Not only should we have good processes in place, but we must ensure that we are following these processes.
3. We are to demonstrate accountability.
In the area of Financial Management this means that we must have:
- Considered, approved, and documented Financial Policies & Procedures in place
- We must ensure that these policies and procedures are being followed
- We must also be able to prove that these policies and procedures are being followed
- That decision making is considered and documented
- That the accounts and procedures are regularly reviewed by a qualified and external person or organisation.
4. No one is above the rules – not even the rector/minister.
All transactions must have adequate documentation and are approved as per the financial policies
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?..” Luke 16:10-13
The benefits of having and following well considered financial policies are:
- It is clear what is expected of people – reduces confusion and increased efficiency
- Provides a standard from which to measure performance
- Reduces and manages the risk of: Fraud, Theft
- Inappropriate use & wastage of resources
- Inaccurate reporting
- Inefficient use of resources
- Decrease in the reputation of the organisation
- Inconsistent & individual decision making
- Overspending & Under spending
- Increases the reputation of the church/organisation
Taking the time to put the financial processes of the church in order ensures a strong financial foundation for the church community and allows church leaders to function more effectively.
There are many stories of bad management of finances in churches around Australia, and around the world. Staff, volunteers and even clergy who couldn’t resist the temptations to steal from their churches. In recent years there have been many publicised cases, including the priest taking $250,000 and a church employee who misappropriated $4m from a church’s programs and many more. There are many other cases which are not publicised because the church prefers to not be shamed.
These are sad but true stories. So it is ?? on us all to manage the finances as “leaders who are above reproach”.
Benkorp can help you with this now or at anytime:
- a once-off review and recommendation
- a special once-off Assurance Review
- any of our regular ongoing services
We hope you have enjoyed this article
Please contact us to discuss any of these items further: