Improvement to the Information Provided in District Financial Reports


WHEREAS, we have begun to realize that we have not always empowered laity to be full partners in the churches mission, and

WHEREAS, part of the Christian’s responsibility is financial stewardship, and

WHEREAS, our current district financial reports inhibit this full partnership, because;

  1. The Financial Reports included in the District Convention Workbook are formatted to meet Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAPP) non-profit reporting requirements, and that format does not lend itself to an understanding of the actual income and expenses numbers, or their relationship to budget, and
  2. This format uses different terminology and titles than what is understood by someone with business financial reports experience typically found in a congregation, and
  3. It is not possible to amend the existing format due to it being in accordance with GAAP regulations for non-profit organization reporting, and
  4. This format does not reflect the capabilities of commercial bookkeeping software, and

WHEREAS, any improvements to allow a better understanding of the Districts financial reports could be served by providing information in a different report format, i.e. business format, similar to that used for financial management in the district office and congregations. Such information is available in the District accounting system and would be readily available, and

WHEREAS, Synod Bylaw 1.5.13 requires “full disclosure” of “financial books and records” to any member congregation this would be an appropriate way to do so on a routine basis, and

WHEREAS, it would seem meet, right and salutary that the District Financial Report should include information that can be recognized by the laity and further explained by the congregational Treasurer or bookkeeper as needed, and

WHEREAS, the salaries of Synod elected officials is required to be published annually, and

WHEREAS, this would be a good way to make such information readily attainable by NOW District congregations, and

Whereas, our brothers and sisters in the Wyoming District of LC-MS, and even the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, among others, provide financial information in the manner here suggested as a meaningful way to keep their sources of income, informed on how their gifts are being spent on the mission of the church, and

Whereas, the number of districts and synods using this suggested format in a routine manner to convey financial information to congregations is not that important when compared to this being the right thing to do; therefore be it

RESOLVED, a set of reports, with one report containing yearly Income and Expenses by account category, one report showing annual income and expenses to annual budget, and a Balance Sheet that shows Profit/Loss for each year that is carried over into the next fiscal year. Examples of account category detail are appended, and be it further

RESOLVED, that preferably the second report could show annual compensation from the district received by elected officials of the District; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the convention Financial Report also contain an index of its contents by page number.



Category Examples

Income: Parish offerings, Parish Assessments, cash gifts, sale of assets, other, etc.

Expenses: Internal District Travel, Synodical (External) Business Travel, Conference Travel, District Conference/Convention, Salaries & Wages, Payroll Taxes, Employee Benefits, Office Administration, Contracts, Congregational Support, District Programs, Ecclesiastical Supervision, Direct Mission Support in District, Tithe to Synod, etc.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Improvement to the Information Provided in District Financial Reports — 2 Comments

  1. As a CPA, I like this idea. I’m interested in seeing examples of the kind of reports you have in mind, specifically referencing the Wyoming District. I’ve spent only a brief amount of time looking at the Minnesota South financials, but not being well-versed in the ins-and-outs of non-profit principles as they are today, I find them far from transparent.

    If I don’t think they’re very accessible, what must non-accountant laymen, and, for that matter, clergy, think of them?

  2. Unfortunately, my new congregation does not support any resolutions going to the district, it is a matter of local policy. As you might guess I think view is not well thought out, but it is the prevailing view.

    The report format is basically the same as your Congregational Treasurer uses, with all expenses coded to a separate chart of accounts number. Thus, one would always have someone who could explain them at a the local level. This is the same format Wyoming District uses, as does ELS. It is not rocket science and straight forward. The first time this memorial was introduced it did not get by the floor committee, for some strange reasons. Basically, they did not want it on the floor. We were going to take it out of the Omnibus Resolution, but time ran out before we arrived at that point of the agenda.

    I would really like to see some district deal with this issue, and later as a memorial to Synod to lay it on their districts to do so, if they are not.

    Sorry for not responding sooner, I did not know that the list items could be blogged.

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