Appropriate amount of financial information to share with the congregation

The amount of information shared with the congregation is different for every church.  We believe the WAY this information is presented is most important.  Our opinion is that, at minimum, a summary annual accounting of the church financial position should be shared with the congregation once a year. The summary annual accounting should include the following components:

  • operating income status as either a surplus or a deficit dollar amount and percentage of total income received;

  • percentage of spending for each majority categories including personnel, administrative, ministries, and mission and benevolence spending;

  • status of spending on capital projects including amounts raised and expended and percentage of completion or the project;

Additionally, providing a copy of annual financial statements upon written request is a good practice. At no time should a disclosure of giving records be made.

A high degree of transparency in finances is a good thing and will empower trust and confidence across the organization. A few suggestions to go beyond the minimums would include quarterly financial summary discussions and clear understanding of who is managing the finances – an elder board or a finance committee and what their accountability is to the leadership of the church.

Again, the way this information is presented is most important.  We’ve found that using a narrative format [whether written or from the stage] is most effective in presenting the true financial picture.  Simply presenting numbers doesn’t always speak the right language.  As always, we’re happy to help think through this with you.