by Jeremy Moore

What is the one area that we see derail more ministries than any other? I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it has little to do with macro economic conditions or the weather.

In good times and bad, the area that poses the greatest threat to ongoing success in ministry is a loss (or perceived loss) of integrity.

Here are three steps you can take to ensure that your ministry keeps—and strengthens—its financial integrity.

  1. Create an involved finance committee. When I meet with churches, the norm is a conversation with the senior pastor and a bookkeeper—the best have a competent and involved team of people who work together to ensure checks and balances.
  2. Hire an outside CPA. If your ministry has more than $500,000 in annual income, we recommend that you minimally have a CPA compilation every year, and I’d suggest a CPA review as well.
  3. Communicate with your congregation or donors. Stay in regular contact with updates about the financial condition of the ministry. This not only ensures that they understand and can hold leadership accountable, but also makes it easier to ask for additional giving when it’s needed.

Of course, it helps to find a financial institution that is aligned with your values and works to preserve your financial integrity (Hey, I can’t resist…this is important!). Look for product offerings that reinforce your commitment to integrity (like ECCU’s Positive Pay, which ensures that every check your ministry writes is verified for the same amount when it hits your account), or services like our ministry banking assessments to keep your financial strategies on track.

Bottom line: Accountability is king. The more safety nets you have in place, the less likely you are to fall.

What does your ministry do to protect financial integrity? Please leave a comment and share your practices with our readers.

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  1. At Excel Ministries, we offer three…assessments that go into varying amounts of depth looking at the church’s financial picture. We focus on stewardship culture, cash and contributions, offering, policies and procedures, and electronic giving. One of the first and most basic questions we ask is whether the job of financial secretary (handling income) is separate from the job of treasurer (handling expenditures). Secondly we ask if either one of the people holding those positions is related to the pastor by blood or by marriage. The church needs separation “of” powers and separation “from” power to retain integrity.

  2. Ministry Banking Guy @ 2011-01-10 13:33

    Important distinction between separation of and separation from. It’d be great to hear comments from ministries on this point. How is your ministry maintaining these two levels of separation?

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