Finance Organic church Simple Church

Why is financial transparency important?

Christian religious leaders will commit an estimated $34 billion in fraud in 2011 compared to $31 billion spent on global missions. (  Enough said!

9 replies on “Why is financial transparency important?”

Felicity, I’m glad to come across your post this evening. It’s another dimension to an issue I have been wrestling with for some time now. Having lived and worked on the island of Jersey for some time I posted a reminiscence today, as part of a reflection on colossal tax avoidance: I reflect also, that ties between the Anglican Church and the state are as close (and Constantinian) in Jersey as anywhere in the world. Amongst the companies and wealthy individuals who together divert billions of pounds in lost revenue offshore from national exchequers, there are doubtless many Christians. It’s a troubling thought. Shalom, phil

I am quite shocked by the article you link to. I have long thought that christians and churches have become too close to materialism and capitalism, and this reinforces that belief.

Thanks Felicity, I appreciate your response. I have been shocked for years, by the sheer audacious scale of the tax avoidance business. Cumulatively it amounts to the global crucifixion of the poor.
I have added your splendid site to my blogroll and linked up on facebook and twitter. As you will see, I’ve been thinking slow ( as you’ve been thinking simple.

We had an associate pastor who used a church credit card to buy fishing gear, plane tickets for personal trips and other items. There never was a full accounting by the elders and council. And then, instead of detailing his offenses to the congregation, they fired him with a generous separation package and never explained what happened, just asking the congregants to trust their judgment. It unnecessarily caused a minor split because many people liked his preaching.

Thanks for your comments, everyone.
Phil, I am honored that you would add my site to your blogroll. Thank you.
Dan, I suspect that the story of fraud that you tell is repeated in many places around the country. Maybe it started out as an innocent mistake (used the wrong credit card) and then when he wasn’t found out, he continued to scam the church. But sadly, I fear that there is much deliberate fraud.
All of us are shocked by the figures. Of all places, church finances should be above reproach. We have dishonored the name of Christ with our lack of accountability and transparency.

Thank you for posting this. The former ministry that I used to go to did commit massive fraud. My former church back then was only 150 people and the senior pastor was making $603,000 and the associate pastor was making $150,000 and up. 93% of the mission money was actually going to their pockets. And yes, you can tell that the pastors were materialistic and greedy. They were exposed eventually. But nobody went to jail , no lawsuit nothing. I find this abhorent that churches do these kind of things but unfortunately, I know a lot of churches that would raise money for mission and building funds never went there, only went straight to the church leaders pockets.

I think that God wants my wife and I to start up a network of house churches in a small town in northern South Australia. I am keen that these groups don’t become inward looking, but give money (and time, energy, and prayer) away to needs within the local community and further afield. I’m of Baptist and Anglican background, and am keen to continue to be part of the wider “legacy church” if possible. To be an accredited “Baptist church” here we would need to apply to be an incorporated body, jumping through government hoops which involve a written constitution, rules for a defined membership and office bearers etc, although this would then allow us to have our own corporate bank account with the obvious advantages for transparent finance of peoples financial giving as a church, and where it goes. I’d be very interested if you could write something about how small informal organic churches can organise their finances to be transparent and above reproach, available to outside audit if requested, and also the place of developing a written constitution that would allow a house church to have its own bank account whilst trying to keep the organisational side of being “church” as simple as possible. Also, the measures that would be appropriate to ensure accountability of the people with authority to access the money.
Thanks very much for your excellent site here, and also your books. Best wishes.

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