He fidgets with excitement as the offertory appeal is read. He cannot see who is reading, but hopes that this week it will be his turn to take the journey. The reading ends, and the music begins. As the music begins to play, a hand removes him from the wallet. He says goodbye to his friends and eagerly squiggles into the white envelope. The envelope folded and sealed brings darkness inside. He hears a soft whispered prayer by the giver.
The light of the sun warms him through the thin tithe envelope paper. He squints to see the writing on the outside and notices that he is to go as tithe. He wonders what that means and what journey he will take. He is truly excited that he is to be used by God.
The offering bag passes by. He is placed in the thin opening and falls to the bottom of the cloth. He notices that oncehe is in, he cannot be removed without much fuss. (Internal control 1: The offering bag should have a narrow opening, which would make it difficult for members to take money out.) Other notes and coins in envelopes join the bag. Some in envelopes, and others without envelopes. They are all excited to be in the service of the Lord. One of the women in the tithe envelope in the bag begins to sing “Here I am Lord, send me.” Someone asks her through the envelope if it’s her first time on the journey. She replies, “Yes, it is.” The man shares that it is his tenth time on the church journey.
A prayer rises to heaven, and the bags are placed behind the pulpit. They listen attentively to the special song, the sermon, closing song, and closing prayer, just before being carried to the vestry.
His envelope is opened. He steps out onto the table. He looks around to see his surroundings and notices two women counting his fellow notes and coins. A man is recording their value. (Internal control 2: Whenever money is counted there must be at least two people. One person should not be allowed to count alone.)
He feels a piece of himself leave as his value is recorded in a large triplicate book. He remains whole while his value is recorded on a receipt. He also notices that the total value of himself and his friends is recorded on a count sheet. He peeps and is reassured when he notices that the total of all their value is also equal to the total of the deposit slip. (Internal control 3: The total receipts of tithe and offerings should be recorded in the cash book. This should equal the total count sheet, which should equal the total deposited. Receipts for loose offerings should be given to the head deacon.)
7 ELEMENTS OF A LOCAL CHURCH
INTERNAL CONTROL SYSTEM
1 The offering bag should have a narrow opening, which would make it
difficult for members to take money out.
2 Whenever money is counted there must be at least two people.
3 The total receipts of tithe and offerings should be recorded in the
cashbook. This should equal the total count sheet, which should equal
the total deposited. Receipts for loose offerings should be given to the
4 Money should be kept in a lockable location to safeguard the asset.
5 Ensure the timely deposit of the money, correctly segregated to the
conference and to the local church.
6 Send immediate notification of the allocation to the conference.
7 Regular reporting to the board reduces the risk of fraud and error.
He is placed in a money bag, and his physical journey takes a different route from his value. A warm feeling of contentment overcomes him. He is now of service to Christ. It has been a tiring day, emotionally and physically. However, he will happily take this journey again. He lays in the money and falls asleep.
His value is now excitedly received by the church treasurer, and the journey continues down the cashbook page under the tithe column. The column is totaled on the cashbook. A deposit slip records money belonging to the local church, and money belonging to the conference. Both the money and the cashbook are locked in the safe. (Internal control 4: Money should be kept in a lockable location to safeguard the asset.)
Monday has arrived, and a cool breeze enters the safe and wakes up the sleeping notes in the bag. He finds himself in the money bag assigned to go to the conference bank account. The treasurer hurriedly takes the bags to the bank and deposits the money. A bank stamp is placed on the deposit slip as evidence of the deposit. To this deposit slip, the count sheet, cashbook, and the used tithe envelope are attached. The treasurer sends an email to the conference with a copy of the deposit slip and a breakdown reflecting how much needs to be allocated to tithe and what the value of the offering is. The work of the week is done. (Internal controls 5 & 6: Ensure the timely deposit of the money, correctly segregated to the conference and to the local church, with immediate notification of the allocation to the conference.)
The month hurries to a close, and the first week of the next month arrives, finding the treasurer in the church board meeting. Sorting his pages as he prepares to report, he clears his throat and reports the total tithe and offerings received for the previous month, the total sent to the conference, and the total remaining at the churches. Noted: total expenses. Noted: bank balances. The bank balances equal the total remaining at the church after expenses. (Internal control 7: Regular reporting to the board reduces the risk of fraud and error.)
The value sent to the conference begins its journey with percentages going to the union, division, and General Conference, all in pursuit of “this gospel of the kingdom [which] will be preached and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).
The Seventh-day Adventist Accounting Manual defines internal control as “the process designed and implemented by management and individuals charged with governance to provide reasonable assurance about achievement of the entity’s objectives” (General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2011, p.17). The ultimate objective of the church is captured in this text: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matt. 28:19, 20). Internal controls are designed and implemented to ensure that all income given by the giver is allocated and utilized according to his or her intent. Prayerfully the funds are commissioned to make disciples of all nations, so that the end will come! Therefore the task of the treasury is vitally important to the mission!