Financial Accountability

When it comes to church finances, who's accountable? When the church budget is so tight it squeaks, who's accountable? When worthy ministries are unfunded, who's accountable? These are just a sampling of the myriad of questions one could ponder on why churches become financially inept. We are not lacking in instruction, however. Scripture is full of God's wisdom on financial matters, individually and corporately. With all this readily available, why do churches still struggle financially?

The church is a reflection of the people who attend the church. I have always said that there is no such thing as a church with financial problems. There are, however, many churches with spiritual problems. In some ways the solution is simple, but because people are involved, its complex. As one of my college professors used to say, "The solution, in so many words, is to find the cause, overcome it, and the effect will disappear, hopefully." Of the many causes, I think the following two points shed a little light.

Point #1. I Corinthians 6:20 says, "For you have been bought with a price...." This tells us two things. First, since we have been bought, we have no rights or freedoms other than those given to us by the purchaser (God). We do not belong to anyone else. Our whole lives exist to please the one who bought us. We own nothing, but are merely stewards of the possessions endowed to us by the purchaser. Second, the purchase price indicates the value the purchaser places on us. It was unnecessary for Paul to write the adverbial phrase "with a price" to make his point. But, to emphasize and magnify the reality of what Jesus did on the cross, it was necessary. When one possesses an understanding of the significance of Point #1, a spiritual transformation takes place. ALL things become subjected to the Cross. Accountability to God will be a priority, including finances.

Point #2. Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...." Ignorance leads to disobedience which means "you in a heap of trouble." One cannot learn what they have not read or heard. Discipleship training takes one who is on milk and turns him or her into a carnivore. It is also a means to an end (make carnivores). Unfortunately, the majority of discipleship/learning programs do not address financial issues. Remember, a church that has financial problems has members with spiritual problems. Also, a church that has financial problems is one that has a discipleship problem, and, discipleship is everyone’s responsibility.

In summary, every church member is part of the problem as well as part of the solution. Periodically, may we all be introspective and assess our roles in the body, seek God’s will for our role, and make any necessary adjustments that will realign us with His will.

Gary Ellis, MBA, CFP
Association Stewardship Director