Church Treasurer

Discussion in 'Money Talk$' started by 238480, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. 238480

    238480
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    I hope I am posting this anonymously, because I am not trying to create a problem, only avoid one. I need some advice, backed up with scripture references if possible. Here's my situation:

    I became treasurer of my small (we're doing good to have 30 people out on Sunday morning) church because the treasurer for the past 6 years (since the church started) moved and I was pretty much the only other man my pastor could count on to be there at every service. I am a 22 year old with no training or experience in money management, but the former treasurer showed me how he kept the books and I thought I could handle it. Our church's monthly budget is about $2,500 a month (at least it was before he and his wife left). Half of that goes towards our mortgage payment, a fifth goes for our pastor's housing allowance, and the rest goes to utilities and church maintenance issues. Some months we save a little, other months we end up spending what we saved. When I became treasurer, our general fund balance was less than $100, although we had almost $2,000 between our other two funds.

    Here's my concern. My pastor has a habit of spending the church money however he sees fit without consulting with anyone. He and I talk a lot. I'm like his right-hand man since I am surrendered to the ministry, teach the children's Sunday School, and fill in the pulpit whenever he is out of town or simply asks me to. I am the only one he can count on to come out for visitation. A while back, before I became treasurer, I casually mentioned that I thought he should consult more with the men of the church (we have two other men who come out if they feel healthy enough, and two more who come out if they have nothing else to do) to make it look like more than a one-man show. A week or two ago, my pastor comes to me and says, "I'm gonna have to replace my printer. The paper keeps getting jammed, and it's just time. I found this one at a really good price ($200) and, in the past, I've bought my own printer, but my family just doesn't have the money right now, so the church is gonna have to buy it for me." I suggested he run that by the men and made the comment that the money is the church's, not his, and he should ask the men about how they want to spend the money before he makes major purchases that aren't absolutely necessary (like purchasing light bulbs, or repairing a broken toilet). His response was to, the next day, sit me in his office and lecture me about how the money was the Lord's, and, as the Lord's servant, he could spend it however he saw fit, and I needed to submit to the authority of my pastor. My job as treasurer, he said, was to keep the books, sign the checks, and never question what he did with the money. That same night, I emailed him our financial report, and informed him that, before the end of the week, our general fund would be in the red over $150.

    I don't feel comfortable letting him spend money "how he sees fit" - especially when we're broke. You can't spend money we don't have (despite what the politicians say). He gave me scripture to back up what he said about submitting the the pastor, and I think he'll only listen to scripture to back up my side. I have four verses from Proverbs that give the biblical principal of seeking godly counsel, but I wanted the advice of more experienced Christians. Should I simply let my pastor spend the money however he wants to, or am I right to want some extra level of accountability? I really need any advice you all can give (even if you think I'm wrong), and scripture to back it up, if at all possible. Oh, and we're an Independent Baptist Church, so we don't have any organization to give us guidelines on my responsibilities as treasurer.

    Thanks!
     
  2. matt wade

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    Do you have any church bylaws that outline the spending of money?
     
  3. 238480

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    Yes, but I haven't managed to actually see them. My pastor says there are only a few things that require a church vote, but he misses my point. I don't think we need a vote - we just need to make sure our people are aware of how we're spending the money and seek their unofficial input on "major" (that is relative) purchases.
     
  4. Salty

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    What verses does he use to say he can spend as he sees fit.

    You should only pay bills as approved by the church - based on the budget.

    You say he considers you his right hand man - I'm wondering if he is taking advantage of that relationship.

    I believe it is imperative that you insist on seeing the church by-laws.

    According to Matt 18 there are certain steps to be taken. You have already met the requirement in verse 15 - the next step is to have a meeting of the other two men with you and the pastor.

    Of course there should be much prayer involved in this.

    For the sake of consistence - I would like to hear the pastors side of the story. It appears that he believes that he believes that the pastor should be in total control of the church.

    I would also suggest that the church elect a assistant treasurer, and possibly a financial secretary. Basically, the FS- keeps basic records of income and deposits the funds, where th treasure writes the checks and reports on the outgo. Of course the two should match.

    Another safeguard is to require two signatures on all checks over a certain amount - say $50

    I would also contact Crown Financial Concepts - click here for their web page

    They should be able to be of assistance.

    You may be young, but at least you have the maturity to see a potential problem - just stay true to the Lord.

    Keep us posted

    Salty
     
  5. Scarlett O.

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    You should feel uncomfortable letting him do this. Because you alone are the one balancing the books and signing the checks, YOU are the one ultimately responsible for any "hot checks" or other financial woes. He can always plead ignorance.

    You need to either resign the position or follow the Matthew 18 principle for confronting fellow believers who are in the wrong. Frankly, I would resign from being treasurer.

    It wasn't "touch not mine anointed", was it?
     
    #5 Scarlett O., Mar 17, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  6. Scarlett O.

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    And by-the-by, your church would be best helped with a budget drafted by men and women of a finance committee and approved of/amended by the church.

    Our church works that way. Five people who serve for three years at a time investigate all the spendings of the church and prepare a yearly budget. The entire church body of all saved adults votes on it. Some rotate every year so that it's never the same five people from year to year.

    We have a financial secretary who balances the books and writes the checks.

    No money can be spent outside the barriers of the budget or within the budget (if it's something that we don't usually do or if it's a large amount) unless it's brought to the church by a committee and approved of by the church.

    Even though your church is small, a budget is necessary. My parents' church runs about 50 on Sunday mornings and they have a budget, a financial secretary, and a finance committee and the church votes on everything.
     
  7. 238480

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    Thanks for your help. My parents had recommended that I resign as well, but I'd like to think it hasn't come to that. If I can't serve as the treasurer, than how can I serve as the Sunday School teacher/youth director or the fill-in preacher or the song leader? It may come to that, but, for now I'll keep praying, and I'll probably try the Matthew 18 approach before I type up a letter of resignation.

    He mostly used verses about Moses and other leaders in the old testament about how they gave orders and they were obeyed unquestioningly. He also gave some verses about a pastor mentioned in Acts (He simply read the verses to me, so I don't recall all the information about them) who cave his "command". And, of course, the usual verses about submitting to those in authority over you. None of the verses mentioned finances, exactly, but he said, from the Old testament, that the pastor was solely responsible for taking care of the house of God, so he was the only one who had a say on how we would take care of our church building. Oh, he also said that the Bible trumps the by-laws if the two would happen to disagree (I didn't argue with him, but, in the eyes of the law, I don't think that statement is exactly true) so I think I will look into what they might have to say about spending.
     
  8. InTheLight

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    If the pastor's name is on the signature authorization card at the bank which controls the checking account, the pastor is equally responsible, even if he pleads ignorance. Whoever is authorized to sign checks is legally responsible.
     
  9. billwald

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    Time to change churches. Your pastor is a scammer and you are assisting him.
     
  10. abcgrad94

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    As church treasurer, you have a responsibility to be a good steward of what you've been entrusted. That includes not letting the books go in the red so the pastor can spend the church's money without knowledge or approval of anyone else. If the church as no clear-cut policies about this, it's past time something was written, voted on, and put in place.

    Being a right-hand man does not mean being a puppet to serve the pastor--you are serving GOD and his flock and are accountable to the pastor, but not his partner in crime. IMO, this pastor has NO BUSINESS spending church funds for personal use or bullying you into doing it for him. A man of integrity would know that as pastor, he should have no personal access to the church funds without prior approval.

    This is a recipe for disaster for you. I'd inform the other men of what he wants to do and all of you meet with the pastor about this. If he's not willing to listen to reason, I'd seriously find another church.
     
  11. SBCPreacher

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    I really hate to say it, but i agree with bill. You need to be in a church with a real pastor.
     
  12. 238480

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    Thanks again for all the advice guys. I guess I would feel better if you could offer some scripture to back up your advice. I think I will make sure I get a copy of the bylaws and then approach the other men regarding my concerns (preferably with pastor in the room so it doesn't look like I'm going behind his back). Hopefully we can get something in writing that says purchases must be approved by someone else in advance, and, hopefully the fact that we are, at this minute, over $100 in the red in our general fund will give me some support in that regard.

    However, I can envision my pastor telling the congregation that they must submit to pastoral authority and them all following along. I suppose, in that event, I will have to resign as treasurer. Leaving the church, at this point, isn't an option. There isn't another church which I agree with doctrinally within a 45 minute drive from my house.

    Again, thanks for your advice, and if you have any scripture I could take with me, feel free to share.
     
  13. Salty

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    Yes, very important


    Note: bold = my change
    If you are in the red - action must be taken immediately:BangHead:

    It is hard to make tough decisions - you are in our prayers :praying:

    Brother, it just may be time to start a Bible study in your home - say 10 am every Sunday?! You did mention you have been called to the ministry. You might be surprised how many of those 30 might join you.:1_grouphug:


    Just curious - why did that last treasurer leave?
    Also curious - is your church Independent Bap, Southern Bap, or other? - also if you could give us an ideal approximately, someone might be able to recommend someone to assist you. :thumbsup:
     
  14. 238480

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    He left to sort of retire and move with his family about 6 hours away. I thought he and pastor had a fabulous relationship, but then my pastor shared with me how he tried to have this same conversation a while ago and I think it ended up pretty much the same way. I tried to say, "well duh" but pastor said "The Lord's always blessed us" implying that the former treasurer must have been wrong.
    I'm Independent baptist, and, sorry, but I can't even give a general location. I am really not trying to cause trouble, but avoid it. I've visited most, if not all, of the other Independent Baptist churches in my area, and they just don't have the same doctrinal convictions that I have. I'm picky, I know, but God has a plan in all this... somewhere.
     
  15. abcgrad94

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    I'm no good at references, but these come to mind:

    Let everything be done decently and in order
    Avoid the appearance of evil
    Point him to the qualifications of a pastor--without blame, etc.
    There are many verses about being a good steward

    IMO, his lack of humility is enough for him to be disqualified as a pastor.
     
  16. 238480

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    Well, I can report some good news. I sat down with my pastor Sunday night, showed him how we were in the red, went over our minimum monthly expenses and how we hadn't taken in that minimum yet, and he agreed that we didn't need to be spending money on anything other than the essentials. At least for now, maybe I won't have to buck my pastor. I also looked at our constitution, and it calls for an annual budget and a full-church vote on any expenditures not included in the budget or any adjustments to the budget. So, if he ever wants to try spending money we don't have again, I think I could insist we develop a budget, according to our legal documents.

    I also might try Crown's articles that state the pastor should never spend or handle church money, precisely to avoid the appearance of evil.

    Thanks y'all
     
  17. Salty

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    PTL! :saint: I didn't want you to take the extreme steps - (resign/move membership) but just wanted you to be ready if the first two steps did not work - but it looks like they did, and I am sure the prayers :praying: of BB :1_grouphug: were heard!
     
  18. 238480

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    Well, we had an interesting turn of events on Wednesday.

    First, before we took prayer requests, pastor mentioned that his printer would soon need to be replaced, and I thought "hurray! he's asking what the church thinks" but then he said, "so, I know we're a little tight financially right now, but we're just going to have to buy a new one and trust the Lord to meet our needs" as he went on to explain this good deal he found on a $300 printer that would cost about $200 (as I think I explained earlier). Then, almost unbelievable to my ears, a visitor, yes, a visitor (this was maybe the 10th service they had come to since they first came 3 months ago) raised his hand and said, "Pastor, we have a brand new HP printer at home that we aren't using and you can have it if you'd like". Wow! What an answer to prayer! The Lord will provide alright, but in His way, not in ours :)

    Then, just to dampen my spirits, after church Pastor gave me a $17 receipt for food from Walmart that his wife bought to feed the kids we have on our Wednesday night children's program. Seventeen dollars for our ministry - something that was very needful. No big deal, right? What got me was the way he presented it, by saying, "we usually buy that ourselves, but we just don't have the money right now, so could you write us a check to reimburse us?" Man, that just rubbed me the wrong way. Just because you are broke doesn't give you an excuse to make the church go broke! If he would have called me and said that he didn't have the money to buy the food, I would have bought it myself, but you can't just use the church money to bail you out every time your funds run low!

    I'm convinced that we need a budget, like our constitution calls for. That way, we could budget $50 a month for our children's program, and what we don't use to buy materials can be spent on food if we need to - but we need a spending limit other than when the checks start bouncing. He mentioned a few months ago that he tried to get a budget set up but that it was more trouble than it was worth, but I'm thinking I might go ahead and draft one and then run it by him. If he turns me down or tells me to submit, then I go to some of the other men in the church.

    So, who can give some advice on a budget? Every website I've read suggested we base our income on the income from the prior 12 months, but we just lost our largest financial contributor (the former treasurer) so I don't think that would be accurate enough. Instead, I'm thinking of a very fluid budget like what I use in my personal finances (since my salary varies by +/- $300 each month). I plug my salary into excel, automatically take out my utilities, and give a certain percentage to everything else, like food, car, home, pleasure, clothes... For the church budget, we could take whatever we bring in for the month (it has been averaging about $2,400), automatically take out the utilities (which has been averaging about $250 a month, but should go down as we leave our could months and don't have to run our heater so much), the phone bill, the insurance, the pest control, pastor's housing allowance, and the mortgage payment (a whopping $1,200 a month!) and then allocate the rest to certain areas (like the youth ministry, special events, literature...) based on percentages. If we have $300 left over after the necessities, each area will get their percentage. If we have nothing left over, nothing goes to those areas, and if we don't take in enough to meet the necessities, each area gives up a little, based on those same percentages. It is simple enough for me to set up in Excel, the question is, do you all see any problems with it? What arguments could he possibly come up with to say, "no, this isn't going to work" other than the fact that he doesn't want anyone controlling his uncontrolled spending.

    Sorry for venting on you all, I just want to take the Biblical advice of seeking godly counsel.
     
  19. abcgrad94

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    Here's some thoughts I have about your situation. First, is your church paying the pastor a decent salary? His attitude in giving you the $17 receipt makes me wonder if he's been absorbing some costs on his own and is frustrated with the church. He should not be expected to always pay for the kid's snacks, although I can see why his attitude rubbed you the wrong way. Why not suggest a sign-up sheet to let the church ladies take turns bringing the snacks? This could be a ministry for some of the older ladies who are unable to do other things for the church. If that doesn't work, the church should budget an amount for this or do away with it.

    About the printer--I'm glad God provided! The pastor may look at the printer as a ministry expense if he's using it to print off his sermons, the church bulletin, prayer lists, etc. Dh and I spend quite a bit of money on ink for our printer, and most of it is for church purposes, so I can see why your pastor might want to be reimbursed for this. It is frustrating when the church just expects you to pay for things like this. I've learned it's easier to count it as part of our tithe than try to get the church to help. Lots less frustration that way.

    As for a budget--call your utility companies and see if they can put your church on a monthly budget so you don't have big heating bills in winter and small bills in summer. They can also tell you your monthly average over the last year. Use this in setting up your budget.

    Let all things be done decently and in order. I think you're on the right track.
     
  20. 238480

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    Thanks for your insight. I really hadn't stopped to think about all the ministry expenses that our pastor is paying out-of-pocket. I hadn't thought that he is always buying food for the kids, and buying ink himself, even though it is mostly used for ministry related expenses. I also sacrifice personally (and don't get a salary), but you've made me think how I could do more, so I've started giving towards a fund for the food. Our budget looks bleak this month, however, and we may need some wisdom to make some tough decisions about what to cut.

    I still get bothered by the fact that he makes all the decisions himself, however, instead of consulting with the men of the church. We the grass cut around the church and the person who used to do it is now retired. We were looking at having to pay someone else double, and Pastor recently mentioned what he was thinking to the church when one of the men volunteered to cut the grass for the cost of his gas. Pastor said he'd think about it, and then found a nephew of the guy who used to cut it who said he'd cut it for the same price. This nephew does not go to our church, but is the second or third cousin of a church member. Pastor told me he decided he'd let the nephew do it. I agree with his decision because the man from church who volunteered is not faithful to services and so probably couldn't be trusted to be faithful with the grass either. But, he should have spoken with the faithful men so he could say, "the men and I decided..." instead of "I've decided...". I've afraid the man might now be offended and think our pastor doesn't like him. There have been other issues that have come up between our pastor and this man and this might just be the straw in the camel's back. Oh well, I guess now we're off the topic of financial issues.
     

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