The Do's and Don'ts of Counting Church Money
By Raul Rivera
Daniel could not believe how far he had come since he first entered the ministry 20 years ago. As a young man fresh out of bible college, he was ready to take on the world. He was fired up and passionate about helping the needy and seeing lives change for all eternity.
However, as well trained as he was to preach the gospel as a minister in his early 20s, Daniel quickly realized that there were aspects to leading a ministry in which he was not totally prepared.
One particular area that Daniel struggled with during his first few years in ministry was the handling of church money. He learned how to handle church money the hard way, and he received a few “bumps” and “bruises” along the way.
For instance, there was the one time when some cash from the offering went “missing.” There was also the time when the total on the deposit slip did not match the amount being deposited.
Daniel did not like pointing fingers or making accusations, but both occurrences occurred when there was only one individual counting the tithes and offerings.
Through this trying time early in his ministry, Daniel learned about the do’s and don’ts of counting church money.
Stewarding what God has given you to lead
If I have seen it once, I have seen it a thousand times; at some point pastors are faced with the realization that their calling involves more than just preaching and teaching the gospel.
As a pastor, you realize that along with the spiritual responsibilities of being pastor, there are also administrative responsibilities involved in leading your church. Moreover, there is a difference in talking about those responsibilities and dealing with them.
One such responsibility that every pastor will inevitably face is that of being a good steward with the tithes and offerings.
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Unfortunately, church fraud is a growing issue that researchers say is increasing at a rate of nearly six percent a year.
In addition, research indicates that by 2025 church fraud is expected to reach $60 billion. According to an article from Brotherhood Mutual, this figure does not include the 80% of church fraud cases that go unreported.
These numbers are staggering and it may seem like the odds are not in your favor. There are, however, policies and procedures that your church can implement to help protect church finances. We will discuss these policies, as well as some do’s and don’ts of counting church money.
Before we do so, let us examine four truths to consider when it comes to churches and finances.
Four truths to consider regarding church fraud
1. The trusting nature of a church
By its very nature, a church is a place of trust and safety. As the Church, we want to see the best in people because our Heavenly Father first saw the best in us. Unfortunately, because we live in a broken world, the trust we give is taken advantage of, at times.
I am not saying that you should stop trusting those in your church, but it is imperative for pastors and church leaders to be able to discern the difference between “sheep” and “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
2. It is usually the last person you would expect
In most instances of church fraud, it is committed by the person you would least expect. It may begin with small amounts being taken from the offering plate. Then it eventually escalates to larger amounts being taken from the church’s bank account or misuse of the church’s credit card.
For this reason, it is necessary to conduct an internal audit at lease one a year. This will allow you to catch and prevent fraud or embezzlement from going unnoticed.
The first step to implementing this annual audit is to include the requirement in your church’s bylaws.
Churches that go through our StartRIGHT® Program are eager to include this provision in their bylaws once the importance and purpose is explained to them.
3. Church fraud affects more than one person
Church fraud is not a problem that affects only one person (the perpetrator). It also affects church leaders as well as other church members.
In these instances, not only has the church’s trust been violated, but the church may also lose credibility among its members and community.
Some instances of fraud may even call into question the integrity of church leaders. This is why it is important for your church to remember the next consideration.
4. Lack of proper policies and procedures
Many churches have a false sense of security and fail to implement policies and procedures.
By not having clear and concise policies and procedures for handling church finances and counting tithes and offerings, the opportunity for fraud increases.
If your church or ministry is in need of financial policies, such as a tithe and offering policy or credit card policy, give us a call today at 877-494-4655 and we will be happy to send those to you for free.
Do’s and don’ts of counting church money
Before concluding this post, I want to share with you some “do’s” and “don’ts” of counting church money.
Five “do’s” of counting church money
- Select multiple money counters, regardless of the size of your church.
- Select a safe room for the counters to do their job.
- Ensure that all counting is done on the same day that the offerings are collected.
- Adopt a tithe and offering counting policy that all counters (paid staff and volunteers) follow.
- Utilize an Offering Counting Sheet that details the tender and the amount.
Three “don’ts” of counting church money
- Don’t allow this job to be done by just one person during any given worship service.
- Don’t allow anyone to interrupt the selected counters while they are counting the offerings.
- Don’t simply put the money in a safe to use the cash as needed. Always deposit the cash into the church’s bank account. This will help keep everyone accountable.
Keep moving forward
You are not alone in the journey of being a pastor. There are many pastors just like you who want to do what is right and be good stewards, but they are simply unsure of where to begin.
In your journey of moving forward, I encourage you to take action in two ways:
Implement the policies and procedures in this post, if you have not done so already. Call us at 877-494-4655, and we will be happy to provide those to you for free.
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