Megachurches are increasingly debating and adopting the practice of external oversight when it comes to financial matters, reports Christianity Today magazine (October).
The recent resignation, and more recently dissolving, of the Seattle-based megachurch Mars Hill and other leadership scandals involving finances has put the issue of financial accountability front and center for many megachurches. Scott Thumma of Hartford Seminary says that the practice of external accountability is increasingly prevalent in megachurches. “In some sense, megachurches wouldn’t exist if they didn’t adopt business practices,” he adds.
Another megachurch specialist says that external boards are becoming more common among churches of all sizes, driven by the increasing ease of long distance communication as well as by the growth of church planting. Even in churches that don’t have strong oversight traditions, there is a need to exercise a large degree of control of new churches that they plant.
Critics argue that outside financial oversight cannot be exercised in congregations as it is in other non-profit organizations, because they lack the important dimension of spiritual oversight. Carl Trueman of Westminister Theological Seminary argues that churches need to separate forms of oversight, and reserve financial oversight for external elders and church discipline for internal elders.
(Christianity Today, 465 Gundersen Dr., Carol Stream, Il 60188)