Reforming church structures to Reform Church finances

It has just occurred that the reason the centre has grown in the URC and the periphery diminished is the way we set our finances. At the moment the finances are a levy which the centre sets on all the local churches. The problem with this is that the centre can see work to do, and then set the levy to pay for it. Once or twice this does not matter.

Under the old Congregational Union, the local churches had far more say over what the levy was and when it was to high simply did not pay it. The centre thus had to decide what best to do with what was given.

So we need to redress the balance of power and put power back into the hands of local churches. One way would be to have a scrutinising body of church treasures to look at the levy. I would suggest that for national each synod would send one church treasurer to a central committee, each appointment lasting five years. In each synod a body of about the same size 12 people should also sit, the rule being for a member that they have to be a church secretary. This would mean a meeting once a year before a synod and it is this body and not the central finance people who should bring the levy.

Such people are a lot better placed than either a full synod or central staff to make these decisions. They can be fully briefed on the central issues but are also well aware of the local church finances as well.

This is not a quick fix, it will not work overnight and it will not bring about immediate cuts. What I expect it to do is over twenty years to consistently reduce the central bureaucracy so that local churches are empowered to carry out their mission or not as they see fit. The only long term way to keep control of expenditure is to put people in control of it who have an interest in keeping it low.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.