The study examined the Christian stewardship and church management: examining the effectiveness of internal control systems in Winners Chapel. The research adopted a cross-sectional survey design and triangulated both qualitative and quantitative methods. Sample size of 105 respondents was drawn from an accessible population of 125 respondents using simple random sampling. Methods of data collection included mainly questionnaire survey and interview schedules with questionnaires and interview guides used as instruments. 100% response rate was realized. Findings revealed a significant positive relationship for all variables thus control environment (.396**), control activities (.304**) and control monitoring (.330**) with financial management. Regression results indicated 14.8% (control environment), 8.4% control activities and 10.0% control monitoring variation or effect on financial management. Recommendation and Conclusion made is that other than faith, Winners Chapel churches need strong internal controls at local church level for safe guarding the finances and increasing donor’s confidence for continued inflow of funds.
1.1 Background of the study
The church has been identified as the largest and one of the most significant groups in the world (Harris 1990; Booth 1993). The world is estimated to be composed of about 2.3 billion Christians, which is 33% of the overall population, and is expected to reach 3 billion by 2050 (Pew Research Centre, 2017). In Nigeria, 71.2% of the population professes Christianity, as at the 2010 national census (Nigeria Statistical Service, 2010; Worldatlas, 2017). The main object of the church has been the spiritual and moral development of its members. However, focus has also been on the development of their mental, social and economic well-being. Consequently, a number of churches are embarking on developmental projects in their communities and even on a national scale (Mpesha, 2003; Amoah & Gyimah, 2014). They also invest in the educational and psychological needs of their members and the society at large. The church has hence gradually become a development partner in all societies. In order to undertake these activities, the church requires funds.
In Nigerian churches, there are two main theological beliefs about money and stewardship. The first belief is based on the statement, “money is evil,” or we could name it the holy poverty. The most popular Bible verse is 1Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” The second popular verse is Luke 16:13: “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Here is the opposition between God and money. In pastors’ minds, and therefore in churches, this is the biblical view on stewardship – money is some kind of necessary evil. Many of them believe that the Bible speaks about money mostly in negative words. There is a theological belief that Jesus was poor; He chose to live that way. He had no money and taught others, “Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts” (Matthew 10:9 ESV). Therefore, pastors and people in churches believe that a minister must live his or her life in poverty. They believe that only this way of life and ministry is truly the lifestyle of Jesus. It’s interesting that the majority of people who believe in this kind of theology apply this approach to pastors and ministers, but not to themselves.
The implementation, assessment, and monitoring of effective internal control systems is believed to be a key determinant of financial Management and reporting quality. According to Nerissa et al. (2008), high-quality internal controls curtail the intentional manipulation of organization resource; information reported to outsiders, reduces and mitigates the inherent risks of business operations and strategies that may affect the quality of reported information. Financial management is the management of an organization’s finances in order to achieve financial objectives which include creation of wealth, generation of cash and return on investment. The process of financial management involves financial planning, financial decision making and financial control. Financial control being critically important in addressing questions such as efficient use of assets, security of assets and whether management is acting in the best interest of the stakeholders.
The church receives its funds from members, donor groups and indeed the general public (Lightbody, 1999; Gruber, 2004; Ahiabor & Mensah, 2013; Mitchell, 2015). There is therefore the need to account for the use of funds to the funding sources. Despite the many favourable attributes, the church has been engaged in many financial scandals.
These events have further intensified the scrutiny on the financial management system of churches. The leadership of some churches has sought to prioritize their general management approaches (Shaibu, 2013; Ahiabo & Mensah, 2013). This has led to the rise in expectation of the church to improve its financial management systems so as to guard against losing its reputation as the trustworthy custodians they were seen to be in the past. The church aims to manage funds above reproof by maintaining high standards (Shaibu, 2013) so they could be the benchmark for society, they are meant to be in Matthew 5:13. Consequently, it is prudent that adequate and effective financial management systems and processes are adopted and implemented (Harris, 1990; Booth, 1993; Shaibu, 2013; White & Acheampong, 2017).
Moreover, the further rise in interest of the church’s financial management system is also attributed to the large amounts the churches’ receive from the public. This makes stakeholders and the public concerned about the management of such large amounts. The funds made available to churches by their members and donors continuously experience exponential growth as the years go by. Church members have thus begun to show more and more interest in how these funds are managed. At general meetings the churches hold to account for activities and resource usage, a lot more of the enquiries made were financial management. For instance enquiries about the rising operational costs of the church, the nature of insurance adopted the methods of accounting presentation used, among others.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
According to General Conference Policies, (2007), all entities within a conference are expected to implement internal control systems, engage competent staff at all church levels to ensure safety of Church financial resources and to give reasonable assurance to Church members. Further to it is for all entities within the Conference to be self supporting in all aspects including proper management of financial resources. This is perfectly practiced at higher institution as a core policy requirement and closely monitored by General Conference Auditing Services (GCAS)
Many studies have been undertaken all over the world aimed at understanding the unique management systems of the church (Leach, 1960; Laughlin, 1988; Harris 1990; Booth, 1993; Gruber, 2004; Agyei & Kusi, 2006; Shaibu, 2013). Most of these studies have however focused on discrete aspects of the financial management scope such as accounting and communication, internal controls, investment policy, among others instead of considering the whole system, hence failed to bring in-depth understanding to how the entire financial system operates. That is, evaluating a single financial management component is not enough to give a true reflection of the efficiency and effectiveness of the financial management practices of an entity.
The findings of some studies identified inadequate financial management practices, poor stewardship, lack of internal control systems and generally low interest or investment in financial literacy in the respective churches (Leach, 1960; Laughlin, 1988; Harris 1990; Booth, 1993; Agyei & Kusi, 2006; Shaibu, 2013).
Could it be poor financial internal controls at the local Church level leading to such losses and mistrust? This has compelled the researcher to carry out a study with an aim of establishing the effect of internal controls on financial management of Faith based organizations.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of the study is to examine the Christian stewardship and church management: examining the effectiveness of internal control systems in Winners Chapel.
The following are the specific objectives of the study:
- To examine the effect of control environment on the management of financial resources in Winners Chapel.
- To examine the effectiveness of control activities in the management of financial resources in Winners Chapel.
- To establish the effect of monitoring on the financial management of Winners Chapel.
1.4 Research questions
Below are research questions that guided the study
- Is the control environment effective in the management of financial resources in Winners Chapel?
- What is the effect of control activities on financial management?
- What is the relationship between monitoring and effective financial management?
1.5 Hypotheses of the Study
The following hypotheses will be used in this study
- Control environment has significant positive effect in the financial management.
- There is a significant positive relationship between Control activities and financial management.
- There is a positive relationship between Monitoring and financial management in the Winners Chapel.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Institution: The Cadbury report (2002) emphasized internal controls as a tool to ensure effective utilization of organizational resources for efficient performance including financial performance. Therefore, the study aimed at helping the Faith based organizations and in particular, Winners Chapel Administrators to understand why it is important to follow professionalism instead of mutual trust based on one’s spirituality in the management of Church affairs.
Society: The study is helping society to appreciate different factors which determine financial prosperity and failure of Faith based organizations.
Academia: The findings of this study are contributing to existing knowledge and literature about the effects of control environment, control activities and monitoring as dimensions of internal control and their effect on Faith based organization financial management.
1.7 Justification of the Study
According to Mugenda and Mugenda (1999), justification of the study highlights the reasons for conducting the study as well as the importance of carrying it out. Research has been carried out in the area of internal controls and organization’s financial management but the researcher in this particular study is interested in the effect of internal control on the financial management of Winners Chapel. This area has not specifically been studied in Nigeria and it will help the Church save most of what it may not be saving today.
1.8 Scope of the study
This study examined the Christian stewardship and church management: Examining the effectiveness of internal control systems in Winners Chapel. The study focused on three dimensions of internal control, control environment; control activities and monitoring other dimension of internal control were beyond the scope of this study and their effect on financial management in the dimensions of Cash flow management, budgeting and accountability. Other dimensions of financial management were beyond the scope of this study.
1.9 Operational Definition
During the study, the following terms carried the defined meanings as listed below.
Budgetary management: Refers to the organization and coordination of the budget process of the Church which determines the comprehensiveness of the Church budget.
Cash flow management: Refers to the handling of Church cash inflows (income) and cash outflows (expenditure) representing the Church’s operating activities.
Church: Refers to the local church entities having the church members who contribute the church resources
Financial management: Refers to how finances are handled and managed for the good of the Church in achieving set objectives and fulfilling the donor/church member’s objectives.
Internal Control: Are processes and procedures to be followed by an entity’s personnel, designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of the organization’s objectives.
Monitoring: Here we consider procedures intended for verification of Church business by those entrusted with supervision role to ensure Church business is run as expected to achieve set objectives.
Policies and procedures: Are systems established by an organization for its operational purposes.
Stewardship: This is the process of supervising or taking care of something such as an organization. In church tradition, stewardship is defined as caring for the church building, property, offerings with wisdom. The main idea of stewardship is that a steward is just a ruler of someone’s possessions, not the owner of them.