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Fulfillment in the Second Chair


“I have labored to no purpose. I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard words like this from a second chair leader who is in the midst of a season of discouragement. Things may be going well in the church, but the second chair does not feel that his contributions are recognized or valued, or the ministry may be suffering through a difficult period that is forcing the leadership team to rethink the mission or even its future existence. In these and many other scenarios, a second chair leader may think, “What’s the point? I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.”
 

Confessions of an Arrogant Man

When your life is rocked by circumstances beyond your control, your focus is on survival. While in survival mode we often cry out to God. And sometimes we get the sense that He is responding to us in the midst of our survival mode. That happened to me recently while battling a severe form of pneumonia and coming close to the end of life’s journey.
The message of this article is healthy for me to articulate, and perhaps my journey will impact others, too.

We Had Hoped


It was a Thursday morning in May of 2015, and I sat sipping coffee at the bar in my kitchen, enjoying the company of two very dear friends. The tone was light, the conversation uplifting, and the mood peaceful. By all outward appearances, it was like any other Thursday morning of any other week. 
But this Thursday was different.
It was the morning after celebrating 25 years of service on staff with my church, and marked my first day of retirement from full-time pastoral ministry.

Safeguards for Church Funds: Understanding the Theology of Fraud

Fraud is an unavoidable reality in the Church. In 15 years of working on forensic engagements with churches, Christian ministries, and other nonprofit organizations victimized by fraud, I have come to the conclusion that fraud is fundamentally a theological issue. Furthermore, I believe sound theological reflection supports my position. Please fasten your seat-belt for an exciting theological journey through the topic of fraud.

Fraud: Part 1

This article is the first in a series of articles about fraud in the church. Statistics cited in this article are derived from the 2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. When I interview church administrators and ask them about their fraud prevention measures, the answer I most often get goes something like this: “Well, we have our financial statements audited every year, and we feel like we have all the necessary checks and balances in place.  We try to hire trustworthy people.”

#metoo #churchtoo

The Houston Chronicle’s release of details on the Southern Baptist churches history of sexual abuse shadowed by a Vatican conference on the subject resulting in termination of key churches leaders has once again shined a light on the church’s need be serious about abuse and take action to support victims. The #MeToo, a social media movement that began in November 2017, ignited awareness of and accountability for sexual harassment. The growing awareness of church leaders’ abuse of power is causing all of us to pause and think about our congregations’ response.

Fraud: Part 2

This article is the second in a series of articles about fraud in the church.  Statistics cited in this article are derived from the 2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. In Part 2 of the series, I will revisit or expand upon some of these topics and also provide additional food for thought based upon my experience as fraud examiner and a church financial statement auditor. When I interview church leaders and ask them about their most common (administrative) frustrations, two concerns typically appear at top of the list: monthly financial statements and credit card management. I believe it is no coincidence that these two matters are common elements contributing to fraud risk.

Policy and Procedure

Good policy and finely tuned processes can be the backbone of the healthy church. Policy and ridged process can be the noose of death for congregations. But wait… Are those statements a clear contradiction? Bear with me in this short post, and let's think about the difference. Policies often have an origin in the law, regarding employment or protection for members or staff.

Blockchain Technology - Getting Ready


Blockchain technology, which was introduced over 10 years ago, is still in its infancy. Early indications are that it will significantly alter the landscape of how we do business. The first blockchain was created to facility Bitcoin transactions. That use is now just the tip of the iceberg as other potential uses are quickly being discovered and researched. Worldwide spending on blockchain applications is projected to grow from the current $3 billion in 2019 to almost $12 billion in 2022. All four of the Big Four accounting firms and every major financial institution are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into this technology.
  

Fraud: Part 3

This article is the last in a series of articles about fraud in the church. In previous articles, we observed that tips, management oversight, and internal audit efforts are the most common methods of fraud detection; however, we also outlined some easily implemented anti-fraud maneuvers. By far, sound internal controls are the best component of an anti-fraud culture. Even though there is always a chance for collusion, there is no substitute for common-sense checks and balances. In this article, we will share a more advanced technique for fraud prevention, particularly, how to organize and execute a Fraud Risk Assessment (FRA), with The Fraud Triangle as a backdrop.