Once Upon Internal Control:

A tale of good and bad ways to implement

internal controls in a local church

This is a fable of two churches

…One Church ignores internal procedures and pays a steep price

Another implements good procedures and can focus on mission

This tale of two churches shows how the quality of internal controls can either prevent bad things from happening, as is the case in Southside Community Church, or allow them to take place undetected, which is the sad story at Northside. Lessons learned from each church are discussed after the story of their experiences. This short book illustrates some very simple and basic procedures you can put in place in any local church. Many small churches need to implement the controls illustrated here.

These ideas would also apply to your private school, rescue mission, pregnancy resource center, evangelistic outreach, or any other parachurch organization.

The more internal controls you can put in place, the more protection you will provide for your church, your pastor, and your staff. If you are in any position of responsibility in the financial area, these controls can help protect you.

This fable is only 9 pages long, so it is a very quick read. It would be a good introduction to internal control for your board or pastoral staff.

Contents of Once Upon Internal Control

Northside Community Church

  • Oops, consider it a loan
  • Another uh-oh

Southside Community Church

  • The reporter calls
  • Why should we bother?
  • The weak need to be guarded from opportunity
  • The strong need to be guarded from temptation
  • The innocent need to be protected from false accusations

Lessons learned

  • Protect the offering and the safe
  • Keep duties separate
  • Monitor incoming bank statements
  • Get it in writing
  • Protect your church and your staff. And you.