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Financial Ethics for Pastoral Leaders

By Ken Sloane

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We are happy to invite you to participate in a new online course, “Financial Ethics for Pastoral Leaders.” This course was created through a collaboration between Discipleship Ministries and the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. It was written by the Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, Director of Stewardship & Generosity at Discipleship Ministries, with input from Greater New Jersey conference leaders and others across the denomination. We hope that a discussion and exploration of financial ethics will not only strengthen the financial practices in local churches but also protect some churches from the devastating harm that can come from financial misconduct in the local church setting.

A diverse group of leaders was recruited from the Greater New Jersey Conference to introduce each of the six sessions and to open each session with prayer. These leaders did a great job, and we have used these segments for this version of the course as well. Each session includes a teaching video featuring Ken Sloane and Sharon Dean, recently retired Chief Communications Officer of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA).

Along with the teaching videos will be “reflect and respond” questions based on the video. Each section will continue with course content online. Quizzes at the end of each session must be completed before participants move on to the next session. The quizzes are based on content from the videos and the text. Six books – though not required reading – are included on the recommended reading list. Upon completion of the course, a certificate for .5 CEUs will be issued to participants.

The course is available now! Click the link below to register and start learning today:

Register Today!

Here are some of the comments from pastoral leaders who completed the pilot course:

  • “This course has been a good reminder of pastoral responsibilities and will be a good source of information for all church leaders. Thank you, Discipleship Ministries.”
  • “I particularly appreciated you articulating some of the ‘red flags’ for malfeasance and fraud. I also appreciated your framing of the pastoral reasons for needing to know the giving patterns of parishioners. This is well done. I wish a course like this would have been offered in seminary!”
  • “Thanks to you, Ken, and to the team for offering this course. I appreciate the downloads as these will be useful in reviewing the church‘s current policies or lack of in safeguarding our ministry.”

Topics covered in the course include:

  • The role of the pastoral leader in finance and administration of the local church.
  • The important leadership roles of finance chair, treasurer, and financial secretary.
  • The crucial role of segregation of duties for safeguarding assets and maintaining trust.
  • Why annual church audits are an essential process and build confidence in church financial integrity.
  • Best practices and safeguards for anyone who handles church funds.
  • The conditions that contribute to an environment where misconduct is more likely.
  • The importance of good timely reporting and the protection of church data and records.
  • The steps to take if misconduct is suspected.

The course is self-paced. We hope that once you start, you will continue through the sessions to completion and receive your certificate with pride in your accomplishment. We have created a glossary of terms, and you will find a link to that glossary in the left-hand column in each session.

If you have questions about this course (or other questions on stewardship, finance, or generosity), I invite you to email Ken Sloane. Supporting local church leaders is the most important and rewarding part of our work at Discipleship Ministries, which is made possible by your church’s generous support of the World Service Fund.

Note: If you are a pastoral leader from the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, please contact the conference office to access the conference’s course and use the discount code they have provided.

Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship & Generosity for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

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