OK, I’ll admit it, I actually like policies and procedures. I think they can be a useful tool in running any organization, including a church. When we think of what makes our churches great, naturally, we think of our missions and ministry. Policies and procedures aren’t what excites us about church. Even though they are not always the most exciting (unless you’re me, of course), having current, relevant policies and procedures can have a huge impact on the life of your church and help you maintain and grow the resources you need to further God’s work in your community.
A recent experience reminded me of the importance of having financial policies and procedures in place. My own church is a small congregation, with an equally small session. We were having the carpets professionally cleaned and needed to have a check ready. Only one person was available to sign. We were not sure if it was an internal practice to have multiple signers on checks over $500 or if there was a policy that required it. We weren’t sure where to look for the answer. It reminded me of the importance of having clear, readily available, session-approved policies in place. This experience prompted us to discuss how we want to handle similar situations in the future.
We are called to be good stewards of the resources we have been entrusted with as church leadership. Strong financial policies are an important piece of that leadership. Session and finance committee members tend to feel more confident handling the finances of the church when they have policies guiding their decisions. Members will have greater confidence that their gifts will be used as intended when they know there is a culture of having robust financial policies in place. Also, they can be tools used to deter and detect fraud.
Policies should be clear, specific enough to be helpful, but general enough so they do not require constant updating. Procedure documents can provide greater specificity and workflows, since, for most organizations, they do not require board or session approval. Clear policies and procedures help us understand our responsibilities and create accountability.
We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about financial policies and provide policy samples. We would also love to hear from you about financial policies that are important to your church.
For more information about how we can help, or to schedule a call, click here.