Concerning financial stewardship and disclosure, the Church is an accountable entity. Churches, like other non-profit organizations, must be accountable to the people whose contributions keep the church running financially. But walking the tightrope between disclosure and confidentiality often requires a delicate balance.
There is significant debate today over whether a church should be run like a business. Regardless of your position on that question, recognize that churches can learn sound operating principles from the business world. At the same time, business must be kept in its place. Remember it was the apostles’ treasurer who betrayed Jesus, and from a human perspective, that was largely because he put financial concerns ahead of spiritual. Also remember Ananias & Sapphira who played with the financial figures and ended up dead. The church that ignores the reality of its business side will eventually find itself in trouble legally, financially, or both. Giving money to investors to invest is one thing, but being the invester is a whole other ball game. Ask these questions: Are the church leaders spending more time reading the ‘Wall Street Journal’ than they are the Bible? Are they spending more time with legal and financial matters than they are with ministering and prayer? The church that overemphasizes its business side will eventually cease to meet the spiritual needs of its members and the community. Between these two extremes is the healthy church whose sound operating principles serve and facilitate its spiritual ministry. The more open church leaders are in the financial arena, the more trusting churchgoers will generally be.
I watched a major church in the Northeastern US and their over emphasis on the financial for the past twenty years. The head pastor’s mantra was, “I would rather make dust, than eat dust!” The sole theme of the sermons a decade ago was ‘more, more, more, for tithes are not enough!’ The leadership became involved with house flipping, real estate transactions, funds, investments, LLC’s and numerous other financial tools that are too numerous to name. They became so good at laundering things they thought they could move the Empire State Building without anyone finding it. The average church tithe payer could only be aware of the tip of the iceberg by knowing what to Google. Eventually the world came crashing down for the senior pastor’s sons. The one faces up to 30 years in prison for fraud and money laundering, while the other had to move out of the country. The Department of Homeland Security spent a lot of taxpayer’s money investigating and won their case in Federal Court. No telling how deep the tentacles actually go throughout the rest of the church. I just pray that they learn from this and never go back to the error of their ways. You would of thought they would of learned their lesson years ago when the son facing 30 years in prison lost 1.1 million dollars of church money to a shady investor back in the year 2000.
The shame of the above mentioned church is that at first appearance all seemed wonderful. Its doctrines and core beliefs were very sound. The church had a wonderful music ministry and services were conducted in a professional manner. The danger had come in its operation. All financial and crucial decisions were kept in the silence of the inner circle which was run like a secret society. Every single leader in the church was crafted to be a cookie cutter cutout of its senior pastor so no opposition would occur. Rewards and promotions were always kept within the inner circle rather than seeking those ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ in accordance Acts 6:3. There was more effort spent with financial matters than dealing with spiritual matters. This had stymied its growth spiritually. The church had not moved forward over the past 22 years since its sanctuary had been built. Numbers on paper may of looked good to denomination headquarters, but the collateral damage of wounded sheep and a distaste in the surrounding community had taken its toll. Messages were carefully crafted to target anyone who questioned any iota of its operation. Their rule book had become John Bevere’s ‘Under Cover’ rather the New Testament and Bible itself. The ‘Great Commission’ in Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV) says to make disciples and teach all men. It does not say to make financial gurus of all men. For the proper role of the church see
David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge and Times Square Church, always believed that if the work was truly ordained of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit would do the convicting for the funds rather than man having to pull it out of man thru a guilt complex. God can do a lot more with every dollar raised by the Holy Spirit than He will with every dollar raised by human means. The Devourer is a very real entity (see Malachi 3:11).
Whether we are talking about a church or an individual Christian, the only way to conduct ourselves is with transparency so that all people will see through us is ‘Jesus’ and not ‘dollar signs’. We are never to take on the world’s attitude ‘the end justifies the means’. Simply put, the Lord is not happy with money sent to missions if it was gained by questionable practices.
To wrap it up I have included the following half a dozen Scriptures that are quite plain and speak for themselves concerning the church, money, and conduct:
1. We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable. (2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NLT)
2. Moreover he (Church Leader) must have a good report (no questionable practices & must be transparent) of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:7 KJV)
3. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24 NLT)
4. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. (John 13:29 NKJV)
5. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:14-16 NKJV)
6. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:10-13 NLT)