I have heard it said by people in church leadership positions, that if someone wanted to steal from the church, whether that is the offering, equipment, or anything for that matter, that they must have needed it worse than the church did. I haven’t found a single verse that would remotely support this way of thinking. Instead there are verses that support being good stewards of what we have been given. I understand that many churches take their offering differently so, this is not meant to be a comprehensive document on what to do in each situation. Primarily I will be addressing this subject from the standpoint that offering is collected in some manner and will touch on offering that is put into a box or similar device.
Usher Team: Ideally you would want to select your usher team from people that are or have been regular attenders or members for a pre-determined period. These people want to serve and have a vested interest in the church. These people have proven that they are trustworthy. Some churches have been known to do background checks on their usher teams much like you should for the staff, children’s workers, security team members, etc. You want ushers that are welcoming and inviting. Much like a safety and security team, you want people that have a heart of service and not someone that just wants to be able to say that they serve in a certain position and arrogantly carry out their duties.
Training: There should be some training provided to the usher team that goes beyond just passing a plate and counting the offering. It should also include situational awareness of what is going on around them always. From the time they get to church to the time they are done serving. Being aware of anyone or anything out of what would be normal is important to prevention. It would be a good idea that every usher serving signs a code of ethics describing what is expected of them in their role as usher that goes beyond collecting the offering. Clearly set expectations.
Never Alone: No one should ever be alone with the money. There should be expectations in place that at least two and ideally 3 people are with the money at all times that it is not secure to include when it goes to the bank. Not only does this create an accountability situation for all, but also safety should always be a concern if someone wanted to steal the money. Someone is less likely to steal the money if they know that they could be met with resistance. Just the perception of resistance is a deterrent to the coward that wants to steal the money. Below are a couple of examples:
Safety: If someone is threatening you or your team to take the money, let them have it. It is not worth your life. But, make sure that you are the best witness you can be. Put those observation skills to work to get as much information that you can for the police. If you have a safety and security team in place, make sure that they are an active part of the offering process. For our church this included even when the money went to the bank. Regardless, the adage that there is safety in numbers is true when it comes to taking care of the offering. So, make sure that there are at least 2 and ideally 3 that are with the money anytime it is out of the safe and on the move.
Offering Boxes: If your church utilizes offering boxes for collection, a few things to keep in mind. The box should be mounted to a wall or securely to the floor. The same guidelines would be applied here regarding collecting from the boxes. 2-3 people collecting the money, counting and securing the money. From the news stories that I get, using offering boxes make it easier for a thief to steal from the church. Here are just a couple of many stories that can be found regarding theft of offering boxes.
Money is Dirty: In an article that came across my email this week (https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/northeast-tarrant/article219648275.html), it was a great reminder as I was preparing this document, that in today’s society where we don’t know where the money has been or what it is being used for, it would probably be a good idea to where latex/non-latex gloves for your own protection. I understand that in this article that there was a substance on the money bag itself but taking precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe is never a bad thing.
Heads Up and Eyes Open: This is not the first time and won’t be the last time that I address this. If you noticed in one of the earlier articles, the man was stealing money while the priest was praying with people’s heads bowed and eyes closed. REMINDER: There is nothing in the Bible that says that you must close your eyes and boy your head when praying. In fact, the more references, to include Jesus, lifting their heads up to God. We have been given the freedom to come boldly before the throne of God. Keep a watchful eye when you are praying. Don’t let a religious habit keep you from being safe. Remember what one of the survivors from Charleston SC said. She said that the killer caught them with their heads bowed and eyes closed.
Being good stewards isn’t just about the money, it is about everything that we do. Be a good steward in this process as well.