Recession-proof Christian Life
6/2/10 at 08:23 AM 0 Comments

Help! I'm the Pastor but not an accountant.

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John 12[4] But Judas Iscariot, the one of His disciples who was about to betray Him, said, [5] Why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii [a year's wages for an ordinary workman] and that [money] given to the poor (the destitute)? [6] Now he did not say this because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief; and having the bag (the money box, the purse of the Twelve), he took for himself what was put into it [pilfering the collections](Amp)

Romans 8[28] And we know that all things work together for good; to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Have you ever woken up to discover large funds entrusted in your care has been lost ... gradually and systematically diverted? Indeed you are a man of the spirit and prayer but you also blame yourself for ignoring available wisdom on controls that would have prevented losses under your stewardship. You trusted your "tongues-blasting" but "yet-to-be-qualified" accountant who also leads your prayer cells and now can not fathom how you could have been so dumb to ignore all the compelling evidence plain before you. Often as Christians we avoid issues as this and instead of also building "adequate processes" that protect against diversions we are perhaps rightly focused to build "strong men (and women)" but still vulnerable to "Judas Iscariot" on an undisturbed mission amazed at our trusting "carelessness".

A man of God once said the protection of a true church is in the genuine fellowship and interdependence of the body of integrated members and it's not about size. The healthy hands even in a small body can protect the face from an attack, just as the nimble feet can protect the body by immediate motion...but a large heavily built man with sluggish hands and feet not aligned with the body or in conflict with it is extremely at risk. True fellowship and unity amongst members are a great protection. May we be one - indeed. Amen. But whether there is unity or not - keep your focus always on your father the King of kings.

This blog post is perhaps more down to earth to demonstrate some very basic internal control principles to at least consider especially if you find yourself in a custodial role even as you leverage accounting help available in the body. Do not wait to be stung before you wake up. If you are too spiritual to understand these things ... you are perhaps too spiritual to have very large sums of money in your care. I may mean well but can end up corrupting people with temptations they are not prepared to deal with ...or surround myself with cracks the enemy will love to leverage to cause reproach and distractions.

Segregation of duties requires that different individuals be assigned responsibility for different elements of related activities, particularly those involving authorization, custody, or record-keeping. For example, the same person who is responsible for an asset's record-keeping should not be responsible for physical control of that asset. Having different individuals perform these functions creates a system of checks and balances. Segregate roles properly - do not allow one super trusted person to handle all your accounting/money related roles and transactions from beginning to end.

 Proper authorization of transactions and activities helps ensure that all activities adhere to established guidelines unless responsible managers authorize another course of action. Establish and implement simple guidelines that will protect resources in your stewardship.

 Adequate documents and records provide evidence that financial statements are accurate. Controls designed to ensure adequate record-keeping include the creation of invoices and other documents that are easy to use and sufficiently informative; the use of pre-numbered, consecutive documents; and the timely preparation of documents. Embrace financial transparency - openness and completeness in financial records will one day protect you.

Physical control over assets and records helps protect assets. These control activities may include electronic or mechanical controls (such as a safe, employee ID cards, fences, cash registers, fireproof files, and locks) or computer-related controls dealing with access privileges or established backup and recovery procedures.

 Independent checks on performance, which are carried out by people who did not do the work being checked, help ensure the reliability of accounting information and the efficiency of operations. For example, a supervisor verifies the accuracy of all cash receipts at the end of the day. Internal auditors may also verify that the supervisor performed the check of the cash receipts. Also, you should reconcile bank records and other independent records with your local records regularly. Let your accounting role understand that you have the ability to and will regularly conduct independent checks especially to verify liquid assets.

 Qualified Personnel should fill accounting/audit roles. Incompetence can be costly and poor accounting has resulted in reproach and issues. Regular training to update skills is important.
In not-for-profit organisations including missions and churches it needs to be admitted that risks (not necessarily reduced by anointing) will indeed be higher and additional caution is needed for the following reasons:

  • High levels of amateur or volunteer labour and part-time staff
  • Only basic internal controls are affordable and staff are not aware of legal responsibilities
  • Records tend not to be correctly maintained and only basic cash statements are prepared.
  • Leaders tend to be community supporters of the cause and not trained or qualified professionals.

The recession is not an excuse but has of course heightened pressures that produce evil workers.

Paul declared and prayed in 2 Timothy 4 [16] At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. [17] Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. [18] And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever.

May you be divinely strengthened ... and may the Lord stand with you and help you that His word will continue to be preached. And may your ministry, business and home be delivered out of devourers and preserved till the end. Keep glowing on the mission field. Do not be ignorant - there are some "Judases" out there. Jesus worked with them - and so may you.

At a deeper level of truth, we can gain even through all losses God permits if we endure and keep trusting Him and not our systems, skills and abilities. God does not waste our losses and sufferings. All things will work out for our good. Discovery and expulsion of Judas was not God's plan as Judas played a crucial role to facilitate the glorification of Christ. Paul was perfected in all his experiences to be a great blessing to generations of Christians through his writings and teachings. The treachery of the brothers of Joseph only pushed him to destined greatness. Be especially careful - the far greater snare is your bitterness and lack of forgiveness and not the dent on your pristine reputation.

May God continue to reign in all that pertains to us and may He bless and keep us always. Be focused. Maintain your concentration. Keep shining on. And if you've been stung, rise up - you are not a failure. Get up - Keep beholding the King of kings. May Christ and Christ alone be glorified. Amen

(See www.recessionproofchristianlife.com for more articles where this post was originally published as Surviving the Betrayer - Behold the King)

Read Wealth out of Ashes for more on God's perspective on money matters and stewardship issues..

(if you have ever had a related experience/or thought that can encourage someone please comment in the section below)

God bless you.

Bode

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