The intention of this second part is to help you reflect on your role as treasurer.
Or if you are not the treasurer, we invite you to take this opportunity to pass this to your treasurer or go through this blog with your treasurer.
It is not our intention to scare you. We want to highlight the role and responsibilities of a treasurer and provide a framework for this review and ideas of how to respond to your findings.
The first and most important question is one that every treasurer and office holder in the church must consider for themselves:
“Do you enjoy your role as the treasurer of your church?”
This is about your satisfaction, and here are some questions to prompt your reflection:
- What part do you like doing?
- What part do you not like doing?
- What is easy?
- What takes too much time?
- What do you find difficult?
Here are some aspects of the treasurer’s role including some that are often taken for granted, especially by members of the church and even members of the leadership. We believe it is important for these points to be discussed openly and honestly. In this regard, it is important for you as the treasurer to be transparent in your review and discussions.
The role requires technical knowledge – accounting, bookkeeping, accounting and IT systems. Many treasurers do not have the professional background to meet these demands. There is a lot more required other than the calling mentioned in 1 Cor 12.
The role can be lonely. Maybe you find that you are the only person in your church with any real understanding of what you do. In fact, you may get used to being well respected and thanked within your church – even though it is from their position of ignorance of what you actually do!
There are a lot of compliance requirements related to the financial management of a church. There is the charity status with ACNC there are the tax rules of the ATO, employment rules of the FairWork Commission, as well as state and local government special requirements. It is essential to comply even though at times it doesn’t always sit comfortably alongside biblical principles of running the church (Rom 13, 1 Pet 2).
There also may be special requirements that come from belonging to the denomination or church network.
The treasurer sits at the heart of these tensions
The role tests your faith in God’s provision
Another familiar tension for treasurers is that between trusting in the Lord to provide and exercising good stewardship. How do you manage the church’s finances, plan for the future, prepare budgets as well as consider new ministries and projects? Tension arises between calling the church to step out in faith and when are you recklessly trying to go beyond the church’s means.
It can be tempting to ignore one side of this balancing act in favour of the other and tip too far – either way can be damaging to the mission ope the church.
Here are some suggestions to help you deal with the challenges of your role as treasurer:
1. Administration is important to God.
Administration and treasurership are important to God and the church. Don’t be discouraged because many people view administration as a poor relation of the ‘real’ Christian ministries like preaching and mission.
Amongst the ministries, Paul lists administration, 1 Corinthians 12:28 (helping, leadership, administrating which includes financial management).
In the Old Testament the role of treasurer at the temple was very important, with specially appointed Levites: 1 Chron 26:20-22, “Other Levites were put in charge of the financial affairs of The Temple of God.”
TIP: We encourage you to view the treasurer’s role as important and not merely an undesirable bolt-on to the core ministry of the church. Be prepared to share the story of the treasurer’s role with the congregation and encourage their interest.
2. Get alignment on doctrine
Managing church finances means adopting a position on how to think about money, how to communicate to your congregations about giving, and setting operational priorities that will determine what you spend.
These aren’t purely technical issues – they have doctrinal and pastoral implications.
TIP: We encourage you to discuss these points with the whole leadership team so that you are all ‘on the same page’ about the church’s financial management.
3. Pray, pray, pray
Church finances are about more than adding up the numbers correctly. Where discernment is required, there is no substitute for asking the Lord to guide us.
TIP: We encourage you to be prepared to call the leadership teams and people to pray about, and for, the financial management of the church. This means at all times and not just when there are urgent needs, issues or shortfalls.
4. Ensure that all the leaders know their responsibilities
Finances inform and are informed by the operational and strategic realities of running a church, and so cannot be managed in isolation.
All the leaders, including the legal representatives, bank signatories and others need to regard finance as their business and not just the treasurer’s job. This is not merely a practical issue, but a point of law as well.
TIP: Take opportunities to educate and train all members of the leadership teams and key volunteers for the financial management within your church.
5. Remember that anyone can sin
Many churches seem to operate on a principle of total trust that their officers would never do anything untoward – this can leave the church terribly exposed to fraud.
Temptation can strike anyone – especially those with signatory access to a bank account, use of credit cards, arranging quotes for goods and services when others are not paying any attention to what they are doing. Treasurer fraud is mercifully rare but almost unheard of if basic accountability measures are in place.
TIP: Be sure to set up appropriate internal controls and make all the leaders and volunteers aware of the policies and procedures. Ensure that the activities of the treasurer and bookkeeper are transparent.
6. Get active support
Get one or two other people involved with your role, tasks and activities, to spread the burden within the church. Tempting though it might be to carry on shouldering the burden solo, it just isn’t sustainable and the church may be in even greater trouble later on. A real positive about this point is that other people will find out more about how the finances of the church are managed.
TIP: Be sure to get this help – promote the role and the tasks and encourage the leaders to support you with this. If you cannot get such support internally then arrange to outsource some of the tasks and activities – Benkorp specialises in this service
7. Get training
Don’t take competence for granted: encourage the church to invest in you for training – in all the appropriate aspects of the treasurer’s role and responsibilities.
TIP: There is training for church treasurers available – Benkorp specialises in this service.
8. Prepare for the next treasurer
We will cover this topic in detail in Part 4, as there are many issues involved with this topic.
Are you finding these things difficult?
Benkorp provides an External Treasurer service or a shared Bookkeepers role that will help you get back on track and stay on track.
Find out more about how we can assist you, contact one of our team today at [email protected]