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*Church Health

Assignment Guide E-2

International Graduate School of Leadership

Steve Hobson

Financial Integrity Principles for Healthy Ministry

Basic Policies and Practices (10-21-08)
Leaders of healthy ministries are careful to handle money as servant-stewards, answerable to God and to
men for their faithfulness. Ministry finances carry potential for great blessing and/or great harrm, thus wise
leaders seek to be above reproach in all money matters.

After reading these notes you should be able to..

1. Explain the importance and practice of personal financial integrity for the leader.
2. Discuss the role leaders must take in understanding, teaching and enforcing financial safeguards.
3. Describe policy and practices in relation to asking for, receiving, budgeting, and spending ministry money.


Alcorn, Randy. Money, Possessions and Eternity, Revised and Updated. Wheaton, IL.: Tyndale
House. 2003.
Bergstrom, Richard L., Gary Fenton and Wayne Pohl. Mastering Church Finances, in the Mastering Ministry
series. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1992.
Berkley, James D. gen. ed. Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration: Practical Insights
from A Cross Section of Ministry Leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994.
Callahan, Kennon L. Effective Church Finances: Fund-Raising and Budgeting for Church Leaders. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.
_______________. Small, Strong Congregations: Creating Strengths and Health for Your Congregation.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.
Cousins, Don, Leith Anderson, and Arthur DeKruyter. Mastering Church Management, in the Mastering
Ministry series. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1990.
Cunningham, Richard B. Creative Stewardship, in the Creative Leadership Series, Lyle Schaller, ed.
Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1979.
Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. (
Fenton, Gary. Deciding Where the Funds Go. In Building Church Leaders. Wheaton, IL: Christianity
Today Intl, 2006. (
Strait, C. Neil. A Budget Primer For Young Pastors, Leadership (Spring 1981):57-62.

A church doesnt need money as much as it needs trust. Without trust, a church will always have money
problems. By addressing the trust issue, a church has taken a major step toward financial health.
(DeKruyter 1990, 85)

Churches that are not guided by policies and procedures are vulnerable to being misguided by
personalities. . . . Good financial policies . . . have multiple benefits: they not only protect the institution
but also the individual, not only from temptation but also from accusation.
(Bergstrom 1992, 121)


Money and ministry - the blessings and the pitfalls are not new issues. Jesus saw the problem in the Pharisees who
mixed ministry with the love of money (Luke 16:14-15; Mt 23:25-26). They loved/served money and used God and
people for ministry. Jesus trained His disciples to love/serve God and people, and use money for ministry. Jesus
followers know there is no middle ground (Luke 16:13 You cannot serve both God and money.). Their faith will
determine how they view money and ministry.
Paul saw the problem in the traveling speakers whose persuasive rhetoric was for hire, like lawyers arguing
whatever side they were paid to argue. He saw the problem in Christian leaders gone bad, people who might have
started well, but became motivated in ministry by greed (1 Tim 6:3-5). Thus a key requirement for spiritual
leadership is that the leader is not a lover of money (1 Tim 3:3; 1 Tim 6:10).

None of us is exempt from the danger of small financial compromises of integrity, leading to larger mistakes,
accumulating to major breaches of ethics and the collapse of trust. Add personal financial pressures, and the
temptation to mishandle ministry money only increases!
David Barrett, global missions researcher, reports that an estimated $16 billion was embezzled (stolen by fraud,
cheating) in the church worldwide in the year 2000. An estimated $75 billion was embezzled between 1980 and
2000! (cited in Alcorn 2003, 426) The resulting suffering and loss along with the staining of the reputation of Christ
is beyond calculation.

We dare not handle ministry money casually!

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you dont fall! (1 Cor 10:12)
A. Leaders are a stewards, accountable to God and man for how they handle ministry money.
Spiritual leaders are to be above reproach (1 Tim 3:2) in all things.
Example: Paul was carrying a large sum of money, a gift from the Gentile churches to the church at
Jerusalem. He welcomed others to join with him. He did not want to handle the money alone.
We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains
to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the eyes of men. (2 Cor 8:20-21)
Teachers will be judged by how they live their teaching (James 3:1) - People will probably find out
if you are giving, and if you are tithing to the church . . . especially if you preach tithing!!
B. Leaders should make their accountability practical.
A church pastor is accountable to the church board and church guidelines. Para-church leaders who
receive or raise support are accountable to organizational policy. Workers who are independent
should submit to a board that provides guidelines for such support raising. (2 Cor 8:20-21)
Financial accountability means reporting income and expenditures, following limits in both, and
being open to correction. (Prov 22:3; 27:5-6,17; 28:13)
Financial accountability protects against temptation and against accusation. (1 Cor 10:13; Prov 27:2;
1 Tim 5:19)
Example: Pauls farewell to the elders of Ephesus not only reviews his stewardship in preaching
the full counsel of God to them (Acts 20:20,27), but in his last words to them he also asserts his
integrity and his modeling of financial responsibility while with them (Acts 20:33-35):
I have not coveted anyones silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of
mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. (Acts 20:33-34)
C. Leaders should cultivate a right heart before God.
Financial contentment must rule our hearts Any hint of greed, jealousy, covetousness must be
replaced by contentment if we are to lead with integrity. (1 Tim 6:6-10; Phil 4:12; Heb 13:5-6)
Financial comparison must be rejected We must guard our hearts against comparing our financial
status with others (Mt 20:1-16; Luke 3:14 be content with your pay)
Financial greed of any sort must be rejected (1 Peter 5:2; 1 Tim 3:3,8; Titus 1:11)
D. When people trust the leadership of a ministry, they are more likely to give to that ministry.
Spiritual leaders lead financially too. They take responsibility for developing the financial health
of their ministries.
Spiritual leaders equip people financially too They see discipleship as involving the stewardship
of money, so they teach/coach/help people to plan God-honoring budgets, live within their budgets,
get out of irresponsible debt, save money and give money.


A ministry leader does not have to know all about accounting practices, but he must be a person of
financial integrity and able to lead the church into financial integrity. Unless wise financial controls
are put into place and enforced, we may help ourselves or others give in to temptation.
Be diligent in these matters . . . watch your life [which includes money management] and your doctrine
closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim 4:15-16)
A. Leaders must teach and lead in overall biblical stewardship as well as financial stewardship.
Know and teach on Gods ownership of all all life and resources.
Know and teach on Gods view of money Model for and coach people in principles for
responsible financial stewardship.
Know and teach the blessings/danger of money blessings if properly handled and dangers if
B. Leaders must have the right attitude about managing money.
Eagerly model financial integrity Be responsible and truthful in all things.
Be free from greed or materialism Model contentment, avoid debt, share with others.
Manage personal & family finances responsibly Provide for family, unified financial values with
spouse, unified handling of money with spouse, hiding nothing from spouse.
Welcome accountability for ministry money managing with openness, transparency.
C. Leaders should guide their churches/ministries into biblical convictions about money and ministry.
Ministers of the gospel have the biblical right to personal financial support for themselves and
so they can provide for their family (1 Tim 5:8). It is a matter of integrity for a pastor to teach about
this in the church. They may also raise funds for ministry support. There is no need to be shy about
this matter of money. (1 Cor 9:1-12a, 13-14; 1 Tim 1:17; Gal 6:6; Lev 7:28-36; Num 18:8-20)
A minister of the gospel may forego the right to financial support if led by the Lord or for
matter of necessity, he/she may work to earn income by other means as the apostle Paul did
(1 Cor 9:12b,15-18; Acts 18:3; 20:34-35; 1 Cor 4:12; 1 Thes 2:9-10; 2 Thes 3:7-10) If they do . . .
> Expectations must be clarified as to hours given to ministry and hours given to livelihood work.
> When choosing income generating work (livelihood), the minister should wisely give
consideration to . . .
- The moral testimony of the work (e.g., manufacturing cell phones vs. cigarettes)
- Possible conflicts of interest (e.g., work that involves Sundays)
- Possible entanglements with ministry (e.g., approaching and persuasive selling of a
product to people in the church)
> The minister must beware the temptation to want more and more Carefully distinguish needs
(Phil 4:19) and wants (Prov 30:7-9). Be accountable to the church board or denomination.
D. Leaders should understand, teach and enforce financial safeguards.
No one is above temptation we should restrain, not ignore sin. (Mt 18:5-6;1 Cor 10:12; Heb 3:12-13)
Policies are firm regardless of status and position (James 2:1-7).
> King Uzziah overstepped Gods boundaries leprosy! (2 Chron 26:16-21)
> Kings using position to exploit the poor reaped the consequences David vs Uriah (2 Sam 11)
Financial integrity is a serious matter and impacts the whole ministry.
What are the general roles a pastor takes in dealing with money? (see Berkley 1994, 408-409)
Should the pastor know the what individuals in the church give or not? (see Berkley 1994, 416-417)

A. The appeal should be honest and transparent.
Honest communication about the need is critical nothing in our methods should be hidden.
(1 Cor 4:4-5; Eph 4:15) Ask yourself and your ministry: Have I included in the appeal for funds
everything a donor needs to know to make a wise decision? Am I hiding anything? (1 Cor 4:6)
Flattery is not to be used Especially to soften up donors (Prov 26:28) especially in favoring and
courting the rich (James 2:1-5)
B. The challenge to give must be grace oriented.
No pressure tactics, the appeal is by grace not by law (2 Cor 8:1-9,12) avoid gifts grudgingly or
reluctantly given while a person feels under compulsion from the appeal instead of God (2 Cor
9:5,7). Note: to preach Mal 3:8-10 as law for today & non-tithers as "robbing God" is compulsion.
Better to allow people to hear about a need and consider it prayerfully, than to ask for a decision too
quickly (1 Cor 16:2; 2 Cor 9:3-5).
C. The directing of the money must be biblical and donor responsive.
Tithes should generally go to the local church that ministers to the giving person (Gal 6:6;
Acts 4:34-35 laid at the apostles feet for distribution to needs); offerings above the tithe are
shared by the giver as the Lord directs. (*This is a general principle, some debate it.)
OT the temple was the store house (Mal 3:10); NT the church is the clearing house
Donor intent for use of funds must be honored at all times Redirecting funds can only happen with
donors permission (to do otherwise is immoral). No borrowing from a designated fund is
allowed. A gift should be politely refused or a redirection of the funds discussed if the gift or the
intent of the donor is questionable or not welcomed.
Pledges (commitments made from regular funds) and faith promises (intentions to give above and
beyond when the Lord supplies) are appropriate if made without pressure (2 Cor 9:7 decided in
his heart to give) and mindful of the uncertainty of tomorrow (James 4:13-17).
How often can we take up a special offering? (see Berkley 1994, 424-425)
How can we develop a policy for fundraising activities in our church? (see also Berkley 1994, 428-429)
Money received as a church offering is not handled alone but always with others to check us and hold
us accountable (1 Cor 16:3-4; 2 Cor 8:16-21). A money counter and record keeper should work together
to handle morning offerings.
Accurate record keeping prevents problems guarding against theft and protecting against accusation.
> Donor intent for gift should be clear.
> Receipts should be given to the donor.
Donors and the wealthy are cautioned not to become proud (calling themselves benefactors Lk
22:25) and wanting to control the ministries to which they give their money (1 Tim 6:17-19).
How can we prevent people from using their designated giving as a way of controlling the program toward
which they give? (see Berkley 1994, 448-449)
Are there special concerns or practices involve with receiving large gifts or memorial gifts? (see Berkley
1994, 451-453)
How can we make sense of the ups and downs of cash flow and the need to meet expenses? (see Berkley
1994, 462-463)

Our budgets are specific means of expressing our ministry values and priorities.
> Budgets should be developed by a team of people in consultation with ministry leaders.
> Budget items should be retained not out of tradition but in line with ministry priorities and
productivity (everyone starts from zero each year, zero based budgeting).
We must give an accounting for the money spent and the ministry results (Mt 25:14-30).
Should we have a unified budget or allow separate budgets? (see Berkley 1994, 422-423)
What is the best way of going about setting up a ministry budget? (see Berkley 1994, 467-469)
How can I understand all the paperwork and numbers the treasurer produces? (see Berkley 1994, 446-447)

Avoid Budgeting Traps

(Fenton 2006)

The Line-Item Trap

Someone who places a high priority on evangelism notices the line item for outreach is only half that for music. He
concludes, with some disappointment and anger, that the church thinks more of music than saving souls.
Taken in isolation, line items dont communicate a churchs true feelings about a ministry. You have to dig
deeper to measure that. For example, funds for outreach could be scattered throughout the budget, under
administration and personnel, for instance. Outreach could be more important than the line item showed.
The Priority-Demands-Money Trap
Leaders may give a ministry more money, thinking they are giving it higher priority. This is wrong because it works
on the assumptions that (a) giving more money is the only way to raise a ministrys status, and (b) a church has only
one budget. Every congregation has at least two budgets. As well as the financial budget, a second and equally
important budget is the time budgetthe church calendar. Priority may not mean more money but a better time slot.
The Easy-Compromise Trap
Say, two ministries each want a ten percent increase, but there is only enough money to give ten percent to one.
Solution? Give each five percent, right? This quick compromise reduces tension, but it betrays the churchs vision.
If the church has named a particular ministry for emphasis, then the churchs will has been overturned.
Certainly compromise is necessary, but if everything falls into place without energetic discussion of all sides, it
may mean the priorities of the church have been put aside for the comfort of the leaders.

Expenditures should be according to budget made in line with budget priorities and constraints.
Expenditures should be made by those authorized to spend and approved if necessary by others based
on the amount spent. This should be in line with prearranged policy.
> Over riding budget or spending policy should be allowed only by careful policy means. (e.g., only
with the approval of the governing board, or the executive committee within the board).
> Position, status friendship, need, and urgency must yield to policy and trusting God as the provider.
Expenditures should be recorded for tracking purposes and accountability.
How is petty cash properly handled? (see Berkley 1994, 480-481)
When we need to make a major purchase for the ministry, how can we be good stewards of funds?
(see Berkley 1994, 486-487)
Audit Questions:
What is a financial audit about? Can we do our own audit internally? (see Berkley 1994, 471-473)
Should churches and ministries consider being audited by an outside auditor? (see Berkley 1994, 469-471)