Good Stewardship of Donations and Other Funds
Good financial stewardship will be essential to our cause. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. — Luke 16:10.
Peter and Paul both refer to money and capitalistic profits as "filthy lucre." (1 Peter 5; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1).
It's true that money is filthy by nature. It's a nasty temptation until selfish motives are overcome by the single vision of the kingdom of God. There is no money in heaven.
Money runs exactly contrary to the giving-and-sharing-all and holding-all-things-in-common mentality. Where people are given what they need and give what they have, there is no need for money. Money is a contrivance of those who were looking out for themselves first and foremost. It wasn't about loving one's neighbor as oneself. That's for sure. I'll trade you, but I won't just give something to you without holding out for something in return. That's what money is about. It's about carting around amassed, contrived value (falsehood) in a convenient size and shape. Now, it's all going digital. There won't be paper or coins. That's their plan.
Well, money is filthy; however, we can make a tree bring forth only good fruit. We can convert money back into real value that which produces the real bounty, even edible produce, for free, from God, of course.
Throughout this process though, we must not fall to the temptations of money, to turn it to excessive, selfish uses. We must properly account for the funds entrusted to us, and we must properly employ them in ways that will only benefit or further the movement or cause. We must be responsible, in other words.
At the start, we don't have sufficient funding to afford a certified accounting firm. When we have such funds, our board will select an appropriate firm. Undoubtedly, board members will be looking at experience and a solid reputation with no history of accounting fraud or scandal.
During the start-up phase, our financial ratios will be leaning way over to the top-heavy side. It's always that way with any organization that isn't heavily capitalized right from the start.
All donations and other revenue will be going to several things during the continuing start-up phase: Overhead (office rent, utilities, taxes, equipment), office staff, basic administrator living expenses (including housing allowance), website enhancement, and continuing fundraising. We need to break even right away on modest living expenses, housing, and Internet costs.
After basic living expenses and keeping the website and Internet fundraising effort going and growing, we'll fund office space and equipment where we will initially employ (members if practical; volunteers if possible) in bookkeeping, computer and Internet technology, phone reception, and general clerical duties.
First quarter of 2007
We need to reach break-even as soon as possible in 2007, or the Church will exhaust what savings it has.
After reaching break-even on the most basic necessities, we aim in 2007 to obtain a location for the denominational offices with accouterments and a large enough area for Communion, fellowshipping, common meals, group study and discussion, Church business meetings and conferences, and other things.
Reaching a certain level within 2007 will also satisfy the requirements of the secular authorities for on-going tax-exempt status.
Having regularly scheduled assemblies
Having a reasonably developing course of study to assure that any congregation or commune shepherd and stewards are well-versed in the Real Liberal understanding
Tax-exempt status is not the focus, but it will help in fundraising. It will help donors direct more help toward the Real Church rather than to bombs and the evil that is worldly empire building.
As soon as we reach that level, highly preferable within 2007, it will be a matter of chartering affiliated house churches, cell churches, and any other congregations, and also a matter of saving for, and obtaining, real property (real estate), etc., for Real Liberal Christian communes.
Our aim is transparency or what is called open-book accounting. With the exception of protecting donors and people under confidential pastoral care, we will lean toward sharing our accounting with our membership.
We will endeavor to post general accounting information on our website. It will be plain to see that we are frugal.
Of course, the aim of our Church is bringing forth the real bounty, which isn't wasteful. When God overflows the cup, God isn't wasting anything.
From that point on, all funding will go toward a balance between the following:
- general operations, keeping pace with a growing membership
- offices (Denominational Headquarters may locate to the commune. Regardless, the commune will require management offices.)
- farm/ranch buildings
- seed stock
- testing (compost, manure, soil, water, tissue)
- organic fertilizers
- beneficial insects
- farming-records management
- etc., all for the first commune (the prototype).
With sufficient, steady donations and pledges into the future, the Church will be able to obtain financing (loans) at good terms for communal real property, equipment, and material, etc. This will leverage the donations and hasten the day when we have our first (prototype) Real Christian Commune up and running.
The crucial thing will be to stay well within means. We will keep a good financial reputation, but more importantly, we won't set up the Church for bankruptcy in a crash. In fact, the sooner we are able to reduce the leveraging (the percentage of debt to equity) the better. We won't want to be out on a limb of creative financing and sub-prime loans when the money changers strike, causing the downside of the so-called business cycle so they can pick up contrived bargains.
We won't be interested in low down-payments or adjustable-rate mortgages or huge loans relative to donations and income. Those things will work only when the Church is small and only at the very beginning of the business cycle. After that, the more that everything is paid off the better so that at the end of a cycle, everything will be free and clear.
The money changers hate this though. They hate it when people aren't left holding the bag. There's no evil gain in it for them.
We must clarify here. In the work There Is No Such Thing as a Conservative-Republican Christian: Jesus is a small-c communist and especially in the Supplement to that work, we express how interest (usury) is an evil conspiracy for the private gain of the overlords. So why would we borrow?
If the Church borrows and pays interest, those who made loans to the Church will be profiting off the charity of others, it is true; however, by borrowing and growing the capability of the communes to feed themselves and sell their wares and skills in a not-for-profit manner, the surplus will go toward the creation of other such communes, hastening the displacement of the system of usury.
The Church will not lend at usury. It will not lend, per se, money. It will be a giving and sharing society displacing the evil society. It is transformational.
You see, the motivation is good (a Real Liberal device, per Isaiah) and the fruit (result) will be also.
Governments have a choice of coercive taxation or the community-cooperative, barn-raising approach. They can borrow or simply decide to build something collectively, cooperatively. Governments have been established in such a misguided way (by greatly evil, greedy, covetous, violently coercive, hardened people) so as to preclude the proper method for development. The Church is forced to operate surrounded by a system often openly hostile to the Church's desired and correct methods. When the Church has grown enough to displace the improper system within a given locale, paying interest will disappear there. It is within this light that we approach financing.
Our budget will be Churchwide. We'll strive for a 5-Year Comparative (Budgeted-to-Actual) General Ledger with all the appropriate Financial Ratios. We'll stick with General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
We should keep our books in shape in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) so that it will be a straight forward matter to produce audited financials prepared and certified by a Certified Public Accountant in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS).
General Finance Department Responsibilities
The Finance section of the Church will be responsible for maintaining, among other things, the following: General ledgers, receipts and disbursements journals, payroll records, banking records, and invoices.
The section or department will also handle Sales Tax Exemption in each state, Minister's housing allowances and expense reports, and to start with, the Church's Purchase Order System.
Much of the Purchase Order System will move to the operations side of things when the first commune is really up and running. That will open up a whole new area on the website to mirror what goes on. That's where equipment, materials, and other operations management will also be handled.
Please help out with the finances for this project, movement, cause and encourage others to help too. It's the right thing to do.
By the way, the Real Liberal Christian Church is a United States Internal Revenue Code §501(c)(3) Nonprofit, Public Charity, Religious Organization (ministry), as defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the principal purpose of which ministry is the advancement of religion, namely Christianity. Donations are fully Tax Deductible on U.S. Federal Income Tax Returns.