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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Managing Church Finances (3) –

“WE TAKE this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honourable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21).

I have already defined financial management, discussed the possibility of financial mismanagement in Christian organisations including the church in the previous editions. In those editions, the issue or concept of internal control of funds aimed at preventing stealing and other fraudulent activities featured prominently. I also considered the need for financial management in churches. This final edition builds on the early ones.

Indeed, financial management in Christian organisations is a requirement to the authorities – government, donors or sponsors. It is required that at least annually the church is able to prepare and present its financial statement, showing its statement of financial position, statement of activities and statement of cash flows to the appropriate stakeholders.

Similarly, church incomes that are taxable must be disclosed to the relevant state agencies and the taxes paid accordingly. This projects the Pastor and the entire church as conducting its financial affairs transparently and accountably thereby giving glory to the name of God, building trust in the congregation and motivating them to give more for the expansion of kingdom business.

It is equally important to indicate that financial management in the Christian organisation has objectives that must be achieved for the prosperity of the church. For example, though a church is a not-for-profit organisation, its finances must be properly managed to make some financial gains and not losses. A skilled financial management Pastor therefore will take proper financial decisions by investing surplus revenue or assets in the financial or capital market for higher returns.

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Moreover, through financial management in the church, the Pastor will be better placed and equipped to properly estimate the total financial requirements of the church. By developing budget statements, the total amount of money that will be required for the running of the church and the sources of income can be estimated and known.

Many churches start building projects but soon abandon them along the way. This often happens because of lack of proper financial management in those churches. Many one-man ministry churches have this problem because they lack financial management expertise. Very often, they are preoccupied with fundraising, but lack the requisite skills in properly utilising the funds for the attainment of churches’ set objective and goals.

However, a church with a professional financial management team headed by the Pastor will work hard to ensure balance between cash inflow and cash outflow. This eliminates waste in the system and ensures the survival of the church organisation no matter the socio-political environment in which it operates.

I remember in the early 2000s, an Accra-based senior Pastor who was not properly skilled in financial management lost huge amount of money to fraudsters. In those days, he never believed in budgeting or even banking. Any money that the church received was immediately expended, leaving the church coffers empty every day.

This clearly shows that the Pastor lacked financial discipline as he failed to invest the church funds in productive areas including schools, hospitals, Treasury bill and fixed deposits that could bring high returns. Financial management trains managers including pastors to avoid wastage and misuse of funds. However, maintaining proper cash flow is necessary to pay the day-to-day expenses such as purchasing of operational materials, payment of salaries and payment of utility bills.

In conclusion, these teachings have sought to evaluate the need of financial management in Christian organisation with the Pastor as the epitome of this discipline. Definitions of Christian organisation and financial management were presented. Issues of financial mismanagement, stealing, embezzlement resulting in scandals were also discussed.

The work then emphasised the relevance of financial management in Christian organisations, with special emphasis on the church, to promote goodwill and credibility for both the church and ministers of the gospel. Money, in the words of Dag Heward-Mills, is a very sensitive subject, pointing out that, “Many criticisms leveled against ministers are about finances. We cannot avoid criticisms but we must minimise the opportunities that people have to speak against us.”

Today, reported stories about poor handling of church funds involving the ordained ministers have dealt a serious blow to the integrity of Christian leadership which is supposed to be the custodian of morality and ethics to serve God and humanity with clear conscience. As a result, ministers are losing the reverence and credibility associated with their holy, heavenly and high calling.

Now, considering the significance and applicability of financial management in churches, it is recommended that all ministers of the gospel throughout the world are made to receive some form of training in financial management for effective and efficient mobilisation and utilisation of financial resources for the advancement of the gospel of Christ Jesus.

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By James Quansah

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