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Should churches have credit cards?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Salty, May 25, 2009.

?
  1. Sure, there is no problem

    23.4%
  2. Its okay, as long there are strict requiremetns

    55.3%
  3. NO, NO, NO!

    14.9%
  4. Not sure

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Other answer

    6.4%
  1. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    In another thread, (post # 25) TOMVOLS said "Don't get me started on churches and credit cards :BangHead: "

    So lets start, should churches have credit cards?
     
    #1 Salty, May 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2009
  2. saturneptune

    saturneptune New Member

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    I voted other because it is up to each local congregation. My own belief is that if a church does have a credit card, it should be paid off at the end of each month, used merely as a convienience. It should be that way in our personal lives also.
     
  3. donnA

    donnA New Member

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    as long as it's paid for each month and no balance leftover. they would actually be convient, people with permission and given the card would make church needed purchases at places that won't charge it to the church, and the purchaser wouldn't have to pay for it and get reimbursed as a lot of people don't have it to pay it to be reimbursed for. As long as there responsibility and accountability.
     
  4. drfuss

    drfuss New Member

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    drfuss: I voted yes as long as there are strict restrictions. The restrictions should include a review of the items on the bill by the finance committee, and not just a review of the total amount.

    I know of pastors that used credit cards that did not keep track of what they spent, allowing it to get out of hand. This led to accusations that they abused the privilege. And some did abuse the privilege.
     
  5. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member

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    One plan:

    Having an AMEX card might be beneficial in this instance. For staff, the card should be in the name of the staff member, and the staff member would have to justify all expenses in order to be reimbursed or to have the bill paid on his or her behalf. The AMEX card would not allow balances to be carried, so it would prevent the accumulation of debt.
     
  6. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant Active Member

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    You have to have guidelines and standards. Insist on receipts that show specifics.

    But if you can't trust the pastor, you may have the wrong pastor. But as a great man once reminded us, "Trust, but verify".
     
  7. Jim1999

    Jim1999 <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

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    Churches shouldn't have debt, period,,And that includes mortgages! In my opinion. If you don't have cash, the Lord isn't providing.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  8. annsni

    annsni Administrator
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    Our church has atleast one credit card. We're a larger church (45+ staff) with a $2 million budget. There have been numerous times that we've had to order things or purchase things and it's just so much easier to use the church credit card than having to pay for it ourselves then submit the bill and such. We still have to fill out a "credit card charge request" and attach receipts when we get them. Our financial accountability at the church is really tight and it's pretty much impossible to get away with anything. We have a pastor who was an accountant by trade so he's in charge of all of the books and he has an independent auditor company come in yearly to check the books. So I have full confidence that there's no shady business with the finances.

    Oh - and we're mortgage free and just did a large addition to the church with cash - AND our own manpower. :)
     
  9. SeekingTruth

    SeekingTruth Member

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    This is the only way that I think a church should have one credit card, with only one member authorized to use it. If at any time, any expense cannot be justified or the church is unable to pay the balance each month, it should be canceled. By balance, I mean the amount records show as having been charged, not what is on the bill.

    By the way, not all AMEX cards require a balance be paid in full each month.
     
  10. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member

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    I know that the Blue line is a credit card, but the corporate/business versions generally are the traditional charge card offerings.
     
  11. donnA

    donnA New Member

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    In our current church all items have to be approved by the finance committee before purchase.
     
  12. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member

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    This tends to work for larger purchases, but for smaller purchases, it can become unwieldy. In larger churches it can become impossible.

    Additionally, some things could be approved at a certain budget level in advance and then reimbursed upon justification.

    For example, if a youth minister is taking a youth group on a mission trip, the church could allocate a certain dollar amount for expenses on the trip, and the youth minister would simply keep receipts, submitting them upon returning.
     
  13. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus Well-Known Member

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    There is certainly a need for conditions and oversight, but that needs to be decided on a case by case basis.

    One of the greatest handicaps to ministry I've seen is overly burdensome approval processes for charges and purchases. The ideal scenario in the churches I've been able to serve, is to give program level staff members a credit card and coordinate purchases with proper authorizations for signatures. These get fed into the finance office and are auditted yearly. Also, purchases come directly out of budgets and only purchases above a set amount require prior approval from a finance director and senior leadership.

    We never carry a balance. Also, I don't see a problem with churches carrying debt so long as it is managed properly. Properly leveraged assets can provide amazing opportunities to reach out and connect with so many more than if we hold back.

    That said it is ultimately a decision for each congregation. I know plenty of churches who use them and only a few who don't. One must choose wisely. :)
     
  14. annsni

    annsni Administrator
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    I agree. As I said, we have a large budget and a large church. If every single purchase had to be approved by the finance committee, we'd never get anything done.

    I do the food for VBS. We have 450 kids and 160 workers. I am given the freedom to purchase what I feel we need each year and I just submit the receipts to my superior (the VBS Director) and she gives it to our accounting department after she signs the check request form with all of the receipts attached and gives it to our accounting department. It's all processed and I get a check a few days later for the full amount. Most purchases are done this way - someone does the purchase, submits a check request form and receipts and they receive a check soon afterwards. Of course if there was some frivolous purchase, I'm sure we'd hear from it but I don't think that happens too often. But most of the congregation doesn't do the purchasing - usually only staff members. That's not the rule, but it's usually the staff member who is overseeing a particular ministry so they or someone they designate does the purchasing. It seems to work well and since we have someone who's VERY careful about the finances (our administrative pastor), not much gets by him that is out of hand. :)
     
  15. rbell

    rbell Active Member

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    We have a church credit card.

    Here are the parameters for us:
    • No balance is carried over. Ever.
    • Going over a limit makes one subject to reprimand.
    • We are not allowed to overspend the budget item for which we are responsible.
    • Receipts MUST be turned in. Failure to do so will at the very least result in lost privileges of use; fraud or deception will result in much, much worse.
    • Expenditures must be for church line items. Personal expenses are never allowed.
    We have a credit card for the following reasons:
    • It actually offers more security than carrying cash.
    • It reduces the potential for theft.
    • I often carry 50-60 kids hundreds of miles away. What if there is a problem? Without a CC, I am left with the options of (1) paying for it myself and being reimbursed (not feasible, or impossble); (2) getting money sent to me (impractical, and possibly risky); or (3) trying to write a check or get billed (doesn't work anymore). I'm not going to carry $2,000 or more around on my person. That's asking for trouble.
    • There's more consumer protection (purchase protection, fraud liability, etc.) than cash.
    • We do lots of web purchases now. It would be difficult to do so with my own money.
    • Debit cards (which we use personally) don't work in a church's financial setup.
    My ministry would grind to a halt, because I would do nothing but meet with a finance committee.
     
  16. rbell

    rbell Active Member

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    I agree.

    I welcome oversight and gladly provide documentation of my spending.

    Having said that...if I'm in charge of a $25-30K budget, and I am trusted to take 50 kids out of the country...it would stand to reason that, as long as I follow proper documentation and stay within budget, I should be allowed to spend the money allocated within my budget without having to go through an arcane approval process.

    Like I say, there are extremes: one is no accountability and oversight. That's asking for trouble, and it doesn't protect the minister. The other is a burdensome process that hamstrings the minister and clogs the process. That extreme doesn't show any trust, and it prevents actual ministry from getting done.
     
  17. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24 Active Member

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    Our church pays for everything in cash, including building a beautiful new church and ministry center. We operate our life the same way. If we don't have the cash...we don't buy.
     
  18. Robert Snow

    Robert Snow New Member

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    I don't see that there is a problem with church credit cards as long as the bill is paid. My wife works at a Christian bookstore and you would be surprised at the churches who either pay their accounts late or never pay at all. I would suspect that churches who are not responsible with private accounts, like the one at her bookstore, would also be irresponsible in paying their credit card bills. Of course, there are many more honest churches that pay their bills, but they are not noticed.
     
  19. Andy T.

    Andy T. New Member

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    I am the treasurer for our church. We have a credit card and use it extensively. We always pay off the balance each month - not one interest charge hs ever been incurred. In addition, we receive well over $1,000 each year in cash back from the rewards program (3% on office purchases and 1% on all other purchases).
     
  20. rbell

    rbell Active Member

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    This viewpoint and having a credit card are not mutually exclusive. As long as you pay off the balance 100% of the time, you're still accomplishing the same thing.
     
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