Financial Review at Church?

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If you ended your fiscal year on December 31, you probably have your financial reports completed. Did Council review these statements? Did you make them available to the congregation? Have you thought about a financial review or audit each year?

Check out the financial review guidelines available under "Church and Finance Resources/Financial Management/Audit" on A financial review can encourage accountability, continuity, and clarify expectations in the finance area. Since the church often uses volunteers, guidelines can assist in evaluating 1) segregation of duties and functions; 2) oversight and control by council; 3) accurate and timely financial reporting, for internal and external purposes; and 4) safeguarding of assets.

So you ask, why would I do a financial review when our financial statements are in good shape? Let me ask you a few other questions that are listed in the Church Financial Review Guidelines and check if you are reviewing these items each year in addition to your financial statements:

  1. Are there backup and recovery procedures in place for the computer system?
  2. Did anything change in your counting procedures in the last year that would compromise the process?
  3. What is the record of members noting exceptions to amounts reported on giving statements in the past year?
  4. Is written documentation available to support all disbursements?
  5. Has the church filed all the necessary reports?
  6. Has the church issued W-2's for all employees correctly?
  7. Are earnings or losses from savings accounts recorded in the books?
  8. Has the adequacy of insurance coverage been reviewed in the last year?

We want to run our churches well and not get in uncomfortable situations. Since we rely on volunteers who rotate through service, it is important to have guidelines so we remain consistent in our financial systems. Guidelines and reviews can assist our churches in honoring each other and the church as we use our gifts.

Posted in: Church Admin & Finance; Blog Photo courtesy Simon James - Image: See Credit

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It is very important for churches to be accountable to their members in the area of finances.  A number of years ago in our church we began compiling and then distributing to the congregation a year end financial report showing receipts, disbursements and ending balances of ALL funds that are part of the church.  I think it is a very effective tool to keep the congregation informed and to show that we as a council are accountable to them.

I'm surprised this would ever be an issue, since for all the years that I have been attending churches, a financial report was always without exception, provided to the council and congregation, as well as a budget for the following year that required congregational approval. 

Besides this, is it not a legal requirement if you are registered as a charitable organization? 

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