Jesus helped clarify a lot about religion. We now know that it’s not about rules and regulations but about a relationship with God. Many times, the Pharisees criticized Jesus and His disciples, claiming they were breaking the rules including the Sabbath. He said to them “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
Today, we continue to keep a vigilant watch over creeping legalism in our churches, as it’s easy for the symbol to replace the substance.
Our churches have gotten bigger!
As our churches have gotten bigger, we’ve added some new roles including the roles of the executive and administrative pastors. Men and women who in addition to a calling to ministry also had extensive business training and experience filled these roles. They were instrumental in adding processes, systems and procedures that helped the church grow larger. Glass ceiling lids were broken as many churches grew beyond 500 and 1,000 to over 5,000 in attendance.
These new processes, systems and procedures came often from business and industry where multimillion-dollar budgets are common and where government and public scrutiny require exactness, full disclosure and a good paper trail.
A little bit of control goes a long way!
For years I’ve championed financial accountability, transparency and good governance for both nonprofits as well as churches. At the same time, I’ve cautioned both nonprofits and churches to be careful to have only enough controls in place to provide proper management reporting and appropriate governance without being overburdened with time-consuming and expensive financial, system and procedural controls.
A little bit of control and procedure goes a long way. Churches with a few million dollars or less in contributions and 40 to 50 employees should be cautious about embracing systems and controls designed for multimillion-dollar and multinational corporations. Often there are compensating and more appropriate controls for these churches that don’t require the extensive and expensive systems. Even smaller churches can still be managed very successfully with a little separation of duty and a simple spreadsheet.
The sayings of Jesus are ever appropriate, even in this situation. The Church was not made for financial controls and systems, but financial controls and systems were made for the Church.
Ken Behr is an executive pastor at Christ Fellowship, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. www.gochristfellowship.com