by Joseph Miller
The Sunday St. Petersburg Times of June 15, 2003, featured an article titled “Pastor says he took $13,000 from church.” The article also stated the pastor’s acknowledgement that he gave himself and an assistant unauthorized raises. Consider these article excerpts:
“At a 2.5-hour emergency meeting Friday night that included fervent prayer, angry questions and pleas for reconciliation, the pastor…tearfully admitted to his congregation that he took…church funds to help pay for a new home. “I stand before all of you tonight humiliated, in abject terror and mostly in need of what I’ve preached to you…All I ask of you is the opportunity to regain your trust,” he was quoted as saying.
“…(The pastor) will keep his job, but his financial and administrative authority have been removed,” the article continued.
Where were the trustees while this thievery was transpiring? They have the fiduciary responsibility for the church’s treasury, not the pastor. It should have never been designated to him. Furthermore, this pastor should probably not continue as the pastor of the church.
I have not kept count through the years of the number of pastors I have personally known who committed these kinds of crimes against the Law of God, the law of the land, and the bylaws of the church. I recall visiting a church on a Monday morning where I found the pastor alone in his study counting the Sunday offering, preparing the deposit, and deciding which bills he was going to pay.
Pastor, while you are the under-shepherd, with oversight of the flock, your financial responsibility should be financial oversight at an adequate distance from the treasuries to avoid any hint of, or opportunity for, impropriety. You are not to be the church treasurer. Don’t sign church checks. Don’t even have “discretionary funds” that give you an opportunity for indiscretion. You are still a sinner. Safeguard yourself and your ministry. Let the selected church officers handle the fiduciary responsibilities with full accountability.
From E-TIPS, published by Discovering Life Ministries
Joseph Miller is a church consultant. He can be contacted at www.BuildMyChurch.com or