One of the best ways a church plant can gain its credibility is by how they handle the church funds. Sadly, one of the main areas the world feels the church is corrupt is in how churches keep their books. Sound financial policies will help eliminate any concerns people might have when it comes to the churches giving. This is also a great way to build credibility in other areas. If they feel you are trustworthy with money, then you can be trusted elsewhere.
Here are some financial practices that need to be put into place immediately.
I. The pastor (church planter) should not handle the money
If at all possible, do not handle the offerings on a Sunday. Have others put the offering into a locked bank bag for you, of which you do not have a key. Also, if at all possible, do not sign the checks. Set up an account that requires two signatures on each check written. Your reproducing church can often help you with these matters until you have the men to take care of this themselves. Always have two or more individuals who are not related, count the offerings.
If you have absolutely no one to take the offering, you could use an offering box that is placed at the back of the auditorium. When the service is over, you could ask someone to take the money out and put it into a locked bag. Explain to him that you do not want to handle the money and that you do not have a key. Also, mention that you are taking the bag to the church bookkeeper.
II. Offering reports
Create an offering report that must be signed off by those counting the funds. This report is then given to the church’s bookkeeper. This will ensure the offering is taken to the bank. The deposit slip must be compared to the offering report. Any discrepancy must be noted. For example, there was one more twenty-dollar bill deposited than the offering reported. If there is a significant difference between the offering report and the bank deposit, you need to do a proper review as to why. It would be good to get outside help with this review.
When first starting, one option is to get a church bookkeeper.
III. Use a good accounting software
Every financial transaction must be recorded. Also, this software will help with year-end charity receipts that are needed for everyone who donated that year. Quickbooks online is a great software option. They also have pricing for nonprofits. Or, for a low one-time cost, you can go to Techsoup and purchase a one user license at a lower price. Techsoup is an online source that helps charities get charity pricing on Technology.
IV. Start with a budget
At the start of the plant, you can ask your reproducing church to approve a budget for the first year. If changes need to be made in the first year, and you feel the church plant is not ready, you can go to your home church for any changes that need to be made to the budget. This process will reassure new members that you are committed to accountability with church funds.
V. Have an annual financial review
You might not have the men to do this in your early years. Therefore, this review can be done with two deacons, and the treasurer from your reproducing church. They can come and ask for three or four random months’ records. Then they will make sure all proper financial practices were followed. They should make a report on their review. This report should be read to the church and kept in the official records.