Best Practices: Church Finances

As with any business, churches can find themselves vulnerable to situations such as embezzlement and fraud if proper procedures are not put in place to safeguard funds. Churches find themselves vulnerable when it comes to handling of finances because of:
• poor internal controls and financial oversight
• trusting and forgiving environment
• lack of criminal background checks

Amongst other things, churches should ensure there are internal controls to safeguard their funds.

If pastors suspect there might be issues concerning their church’s finances, they should look out for several things.
• lack of financial reports
• those overseeing finances offer evasiveness when asked questions
• no audit or lack of effective audit
• delinquent notices and late payment fees
• invoices not carefully verified before payment
• unsecure mailboxes (may result in stolen checks)
If you suspect fraud at your church, there are several steps you should take:
1. Contact your district superintendent and conference treasurer to discuss the situation
2. Identify key leaders who are independent of the situation
3. Conduct an investigation
4. Document timeline of events and obtain records
5. Police and insurance may also be involved

The conference Treasurer’s Office does provide training and assessment in matters such as this. Learn more by contacting the conference Treasurer’s Office at or 804-521-1100.


The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark, and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the GCFA, Attn: Legal Department, PO Box 340029, Nashville, TN 37203-0029; phone 615-369-2334; fax 615-369-2330

Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center