United States (MNN) — While it is often assumed that Christian agencies will handle finances with integrity, one ministry is making sure they stay accountable with the new Church Division of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
Tom Dudenhofer of Audio Scripture Ministries says, "Organizations need to be willing, before God, before their friends, and before the Christian community to at least be open about what they're doing and the way they handle their finances. [It's important] that those who give have a sense in which the money they give (in many cases, very sacrificially) is going to be having an impact in the way that they really want that money to be used."
The ECFA's goals for Christian agencies are two-fold. The first goal is for businesses to follow their best business practices. "There are more than 300,000 churches across the United States, and local congregations and their members are seeking guidance and the assurance that association with an organization like ECFA can bring," said Kenneth Behr, ECFA president." It provides guidelines that protect an organization from in-growth.
The second goal of ECFA is to help Christian media organizations to collaborate, "to see where each other might be working at a particular time, to try to prevent competition, which, unfortunately can happen in Christian ministries. We want to give them a sense of the global need and the global opportunities that exist and actually help us to cooperate and encourage each other in our particular field of ministry," said Dudenhofer.
Dudenhofer believes Christian financial accountability is especially important for North American organizations to maintain their integrity. Many Christians from outside the U.S. believe that aligning themselves with any Christian organization means their donation will be spent properly.
Dudenhofer says, "Often that income is not handled in a wise way. So if for no other reason, the accountability that United States organizations are willing to enter into is a good testimony to any of those they might help overseas."