Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Talk about robbing God

Albert was a welder with big, muscular hands. He was built like a fireplug, was as solid as Stone Mountain and was faithful to attend church every Sunday.

He was also the church treasurer, bookkeeper, tellers committee, finance committee and anything and everything else that had to do with the church’s money. On Sundays he would collect the offering after worship, take it home, count it, deposit it, and write whatever checks needed to be written. Once a quarter, he would give a record of what had been given and what had been spent. The church had no budget, no policies, no co-signers, no internal control. Nothing.

Fortunately, Albert was as solid ethically and morally as he was physically.

Once I was visiting him in his home and he showed me the financial records for the church – a bunch of files and papers that took up one drawer in a file cabinet where he had all of his business and personal records. On another occasion, I asked how much I had to spend in convention expense. He said, “Whatever you think is reasonable.”

I though that was quite reasonable.

Contrast that to the recent story about Way of the Cross Baptist Church in Mount Holly, North Carolina, where the church treasurer and secretary, a married couple, wrote 811 checks to themselves totaling $366,156 over the last three years. This in a church with about 60 in attendance.

Wow. That’s about one check for about $500 to themselves every day. Pretty good pay.

Word is that they had been stealing for 10-12 years in this manner. Who knows the total.

Sure, my church where Albert was the treasurer and Way of the Cross Baptist violated every rule in the church finance book.

Thankfully, Albert was as honest as the day is long, but if he hadn’t been, no one would have known it.

Talk about robbing God.

The only think I can think of that is worse than stealing out of the plate is for the church staff to be helping themselves to the church’s money with the approval of a handful of church leaders but the rest of the congregation not having access to the facts.

But, hey, we’re all autonomous. If we want to do this, no one is around to tell us we cannot.

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