Accountability is from the word Accounting. Accounting began as early as man got involved in businesses, organization including the Church while financial controls are the measures, policies, or procedures which must be put in place to control the usage of allocation of money or financial resources
Accountability and Significant Areas
Accountability simply means the act or condition of being accountable for an obligation or a responsibility. That is, being accountable for the post or roles we are given to accomplish the organization or Church’s goals or objectives. It also means a way of rendering the accounts of our stewardship to members.
Accountability is best illustrated in the Biblical story in the book of Matthew chapter 25 verses 14 to 30 where a master embarked on a journey and entrusted various money to his servants.
On his return, he asked the servants to account for their respective capitals entrusted to them. Checking through the accounts, he found that two of them made a profit, and one suffered a loss. How did he determine this? They must be protected from being tempted to use the money for their purpose.
Anyone advanced with money or entrusted with the custody of financial resources must show that the resources are well utilized. He/she must be able to explain the sources of money, how the money was spent, and the results or output of the expenditure. The document used for the account must be evident for other people to see or verify. These are a few of such documents used:
Payment Voucher or Request Form: A payment Voucher is a document that shows evidence of payment of money, while a Request Form is used to make a requisition for payment of money.
Bank Teller: It is the document that shows evidence of cash or cheque deposited into the bank.
Receipt: It is the document that shows evidence of goods purchased or sold or services rendered or received.
Proforma Invoice/Quotation: It is the document obtained from the supplier which shows the rate at which goods or services will be sold and the quantities demanded.
Cash Book: It is the book that is used in recording all cash receipts and payments.
Ledger: It is the principal book of accounts where all transactions related to a particular income or expenses are kept.
When all the transactions are recorded into their respective documents and book of accounts, they are now summarized and used to prepare financial statements which show the performance or level of stewardship of the church. We cannot talk about accountability without mentioning financial controls.
Financial Controls and Significant Areas
As earlier said, financial controls are the measures, policies, or procedures which must be put in place to control the usage of allocation of money or financial resources. To have effective financial control in building a progressive church, some of these measures, among others, should be put in place, namely:
- All collections during services should be counted and recorded on the already designed form. There should be physical counting of cash by all the parties involved to avoid discrepancies.
- The treasurer or designated person should acknowledge the receipt of the collections through physical verification, that is, confirmation of already counted cash.
- Treasurer or designated person should ensure the lodgement of the collections into the bank by the next working day
- All payments no matter how small should be paid through the bank account with the use of a checkbook.
- A cash book should be maintained to record all the deposits and payments into and out of the bank and all the teller obtained after lodgement should be properly kept.
- A Bank Reconciliation should be done monthly and where there is any discrepancy; action should be taken for correction immediately.
- There should be an element of check and balance, that is, one person should not hold the position of Financial Secretary and Treasurer at the same time.
- The treasure must present the Financial Reports to the EC for approval before presenting them to the congregation during church-in-conference.
- There should be a preparation of Financial Reports may be monthly, quarterly, or as specified by the church.
- The Financial Reports must be audited by an independent person to ascertain a true and fair view of the financial statements.
- Having a functional Finance Committee comprising the Treasurer, the Assistant, the Financial Secretary, and Assistant, two or more other church officers (e.g Chairman Deaconate), and the Church Senior Pastor. Their role is to approve all requests for the week/month. This is to be headed by a Finance Chairman who may /may not be the Treasurer.
- Having a yearly budget. All church unit or department must submit their budget which must be put into a single document and various figures approved for each item. The Finance Committee must only approve according to the approved budget. All other not budgeted items must first be approved by Church Council before being presented to the Finance Committee.
- Fund requests should be made at least two weeks before the date it’s needed except for emergencies such as for maintenance and benevolence.
- A church account should have more than one signatory and at least two persons must sign.
- No one unilaterally in possession of the church’s fund should be deciding on what to expend it upon.
I believe that if good accountability and sound financial controls are put in place in all our churches, members will be willing to give sacrificially towards tithe and offering, Sunday school offerings, thanksgiving, and projects in the church. These willing giving will help the church to:
- Be involved in both home and international missions which are the core responsibility of all churches.
- There will be regular payment of denominational dues and other recurrent expenditures which is the duty of the church.
- That church and its leaders will be highly respected.
- There will be less or no chaos within the membership since the leader is operating a transparent system.
- There will be unity in the church because they all agreed on what project or investment to embark upon.
- That church will be free from the financial crisis because there would always be an avenue for feedback on how income generated has been spent through the presentation of financial reports.
Building a progressive church depends on all of us if we all believe and live by that belief that we are stewards on this earth and one day we will give an account of our stewardship to God.
This lecture was delivered at Ibadan Baptist Conference Workers’ Retreat 2022