Welcome to Integrity Matters – ECFA’s new blog for church leaders! Here you’ll find links to helpful resources, plus inspiration from ECFA and friends on why financial integrity is so crucial for churches before givers and a watching world.
In fact, we're kicking off the blog this week with two very timely and practical posts for year-end with free resources on the topics of church cash reserves and year-end gift receipting.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be featuring stories and insights from guest bloggers reflecting on why integrity matters in church finances. To get things kicked off, I’m excited to share a few thoughts of my own on this topic that’s so close to my heart.
Serving here at ECFA on the church relations team the last several years, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the number of churches carrying ECFA’s certification for financial integrity more than double (see ECFA.church/Join.)
For each new member we certify, I have the privilege of asking, “What was your motivation to apply for ECFA membership?"
And while every church has a unique story to tell, if I could summarize one common thread I hear between them all, it is their shared desire to be above reproach and to add another layer of credibility as they share the Gospel and connect with givers.
You see, according to Barna Research, we live in a growingly secular culture where 1 in 4 unchurched adults now identify as atheist or agnostic. Can you guess why? Lack of trust in the local church ranks high on the list (of course, along with other factors like rejecting the Bible as true).
This distrust can be caused by a number of factors, but we can’t deny that personal experiences and negative headlines over the years involving certain ministry leaders mishandling finances have had a role to play. To unbelievers—and believers alike—one of the top areas to investigate when checking out any church is how they handle their finances… what is their philosophy surrounding money.
It some ways this shouldn’t surprise us. The Apostle Paul responded to similar concerns in addressing the early church in Corinth. It’s a portion of scripture we turn to frequently here at ECFA: “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men,” 2 Corinthians 8:21 (NIV).
So why financial integrity? The fact is it’s always mattered—going back to the earliest days of the church. It’s all about Jesus and protecting our witness for Him in the world. We also must be so careful (“taking pains”) to reinforce trust with our givers who generously provide the financial resources needed to carry out the Great Commission.
But perhaps it matters in our context of the American church today more than ever. Churches are pursuing ECFA in record numbers today because these precious churches recognize the changing landscape and have seen the difference that demonstrating financial integrity can make before their givers and a watching world. They’re looking to ECFA as a trusted partner for third-party credibility and accountability which are so crucial. It’s our honor and privilege to provide that support for those on the front lines sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
There’s so much more I could add and will do so in future blogs, but for now, these are just a few introductory thoughts on why integrity matters in the local church from my perspective at ECFA.
What are you seeing when it comes to financial integrity in the church? How is it making a difference?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Your Partner for Integrity,
P.S. Learn more about ECFA’s integrity standards for churches at ECFA.church/Standards. While you’re there, download the FREE eBook – 5 Building Blocks of Church Financial Integrity. This short and sweet resource captures the heart behind this blog and our ministry at ECFA in “Enhancing Trust in Christ-centered Churches and Ministries.”