Spending that requires congregation approval


Just wondering what is your church limit spending that require the congregational approval.

Hey Jennifer -

I don’t believe many of us in this group have that as a requirement in our governance. Typically the lead pastor and elders make these decisions, and if the congregation ultimately doesn’t agree with the sum of their decisions they vote the aforementioned out.

That said, just because we don’t have the same requirement as you doesn’t mean we can’t help. Most problems, at their roots, have largely similar solutions.

Can you outline what problem your trying to solve, or situation your trying to understand which lead you to your question?

Once we can understand the why behind your question, we should have some answers for you.

Thanks -K

Jennifer, Karl’s answer was well stated. At our church, the congregation affirms the annual budget and must approve the purchase or sale of real property. That’s about it. Most governance happens at the church board level and they delegate to the pastor, committees, and staff some of that oversight.

Again, as Karl stated, that does mean we cannot help you. Give us an overview of your situation and what you are trying to accomplish and we’ll try to help. I personally have gotten approval for some very substantial IT initiatives in both church and business environments.

What I am asking is not about IT matter.

I am a new treasurer of the church. I have tried to follow the guidelines of a church treasurer. The church council President whose wife is the church secretary gets her hands on all the offerings information.

I am doing things now to safeguard the church financial information but was ordered by the church President to continue to provide information to the church secretary.
Church secretary despite pastors instruction not to open the mails, she continues to do so. So bank statements and checks received are information she has.

I was adamant not to do as the president ordered. So for two weeks she wasn’t getting what she wants.

At yesterday council meeting, despite me presenting them with treasurers guidelines and internal control. The president talk down on me and told me to be quiet. Other members were very taken aback but didn’t want to get involved.

Al every request I made to safeguard financial records were not approved. Such as a lockable cabinet, a lockable office, and keeping financial information only To those in the finance committee.
Forgive me for being not precise. I am tired and lost sleep over it. We work for the congregation. Do I have to take orders from the president?


First thing I want to say is that I’m sorry you’re in this position. I can imagine it feels like your in an impossible predicament.

I presume you took this position because you have a heart for service to your church, to your community. That is beautiful - don’t lose it.

As to your question - what you should do - you should step down from your position as treasurer immediately, in writing, to the entire council. In your resignation letter you must outline, in a concise and professional manner, why you are stepping down.

What is being demanded of you is not only morally questionable, but could potentially make you legally liable.

You are not, in any way, responsible to try and fix what appears to be a broken segment of the organization.

Stepping down does not mean you have to leave the organization as your church home, although having seen more internal workings it would be understandable if you did.

The most important thing I can recommend right now is to immediately start to segment your interactions with leadership of a little-c church with the purpose and calling of the Big-C Church.

That is to say, your in the middle of the tough parts about working with people of any belief, creed or nation. We are all - I included - imperfect. You are at this moment bumping into that imperfection in a visceral way.

But don’t let that imperfection pull you away from your belief. Your belief isn’t in the institutions and organizations that seek to support it, but rather in the source of. A man who walked this earth. A man who came to save us from the very struggles you find yourself in today. A man who died, and rose again. A man whose journey is one of the best documented happenings in history. A man that all the world must reckon with, as he is indisputably known to have been.

Remove yourself from this situation in such a way to protect yourself emotionally, morally and legally from the situation. Don’t seek to disparage those you are leaving, but do seek to make it clear why you are leaving. Get some professional consoling to help you separate out your emotions and beliefs. Heal.

Once you’ve done all this - Begin Again.


Thank you Karl,

Just the time I need the advice. I was afraid that church think I walked
away from them and deliberately left them in a situation without a

Now I think it’s the best solution. It has been mentally, and emotionally
draining I feel sad especially being attached and talk down. I was told to
be quiet when I wanted to explain my actions for internal control.

All good advice above, glad you’re finding some clarity.

Please do take the time (and mental effort) to discuss your concerns with others as you act or transition. I understand you’ve struggled to get others to care, but elders and other leaders of the church should at least be aware. What you’re seeing is likely only a small portion of what else may be occurring behind closed doors. While you may not be able to remediate the current situation, you may open some eyes to help avoid other future issues.

The president serves as deacon and president. I am also a deacon and a
treasurer. Presidents wife is the church secretary.

Pastor doesn’t want anyone to make drastic move otherwise perceived as
dividing the church. Pastor doesn’t want anyone outside of council to know
what happened.

I feel very trapped now. Deacon committee and the council is the same.
Don’t want change and don’t want to rock the boat. Those in council stays
in council for years in different seat.

Just remember that whatever you feel - you are not trapped. You are a free person.

You can make any decision you want. To stay or to go. To talk or not.

I think it is wise for you to consider the consequences of actions, what might divide and if that is productive or not.

But don’t sit in a place of emotional or mental harm for yourself. Make a move for health while avoiding being spiteful about it. I believe you can do it.

Thank you Karl. I don’t understand why would a church council chose to not follow the treasurer guidelines and to ensure there is internal control. And why not allow treasurer to-safe guard financial documents.

I made many changes:

  1. I Recorded all bank accounts in the church books. Many commuters opened bank account without approval but opened account using church name and EIN numbers. Five accounts were not in church books.
  2. Online giving - church secretary has online access to donations. I removed her access and gave access ro contribution officer.
  3. Offering plate - church secretary has financial records of givings for memorial, donation in lieu of gift etc. This is the issue that the husband of the church secretary stepped in to give orders.
  4. Church secretary opened all mails and statements despite being told not to do it.
    5 church secretary make decision about what the treasurer should or should not know.
    Right now, the president is fighting me about #3 #4 and #5.

He made me out to be stupid. Told me that in his corporate world there is chain of command and chain of management. I must follow it. Any proposal must be done with a plan to justify my actions. I need to talk to people so I don’t step on their toes. The financial policy and procedures is not acceptable because the council has to approve it.

I don’t know how else to justify my actions for keeping things right. I personally believe that the financial policy and procedures put together by the finance committee is what we fall back on. Council disregard the finance committee and have not acknowledge that the committee exists.

It was always a one man show for the position as treasurer. Now I set up a team with one doing bank reconciliation and the other doing quarterly audit. Also in the team is the finance officer who is voted to do the INs. I want a clear separation of duties.

This council wants to make decision about finance. So they don’t want a finance committee. Just get work done and shut up.

I was told at council meeting yesterday to be quiet. Not allowed to speak. I Can’t clarify how he wrongly interpreted my requests. When I attempted to speak, he talked over me and told me to be quiet.

One council member spoke up and told him that he was flexing his authority and being personal. Pastor stepped in and told everyone to stop. I am still left with no chance to speak up.

These all seem like logical steps. Sadly, the real issue is a leadership problem. If they want to dismantle the finance committee, that’s fine - but that makes you the lead of that team (presumably).

If this is a volunteer position, I assume this is a job you can “afford to lose”. I suggest you propose that either you lead this effort, and are allowed to present documented procedures at the meetings, or you step down and allow the sneaky backroom access they’re pushing for. :worried:

Sadly, I don’t see it being an enjoyable position over time, even if this particular issue is resolved.

It’s is a volunteer position. I presented the documented procedure to the council at the council meeting yesterday. They just want me to stay and do all the work and just obey. They don’t want to acknowledge the finance committee because if I am one alone, i have no voice.

Do you agree that just the financial policy alone is sufficient for me to justify internal control? I shouldn’t have to keep justifying myself right?

I feel you’re squarely in the right here. Non-profit finances require very precise controls and a strict adherence. Given this is neither being encouraged or followed, I don’t see a clear path forward. If I were in your shoes, I’d give it a lot of prayer. Maybe the Lord has you there to make things right, but as an outsider, I really feel like you need to distance yourself from the chaos. This shouldn’t be a joyful and cooperative position. I’d suggest you put your energy and enthusiasm into another area of ministry that will be less of an emotional strain.

It is a percentage of our budget, I do not remember the number. That way, the congregation has some oversight of large expenditures, but the church staff can conduct normal business in an efficient manner. There likewise is not a fixed dollar amount that needs constantly changed.

  • Greg