What bookkeeping system should our Treasurer use to keep the church books?

The bookkeeping system used by a church must be compatible with current and future treasurers’ training and experience. To adopt a system that is overly complex or suitable for only a highly qualified bookkeeper may create grave difficulty when there is turnover in the treasurer’s position. Following are several solutions that small local churches have found useful:

  1. Paper cash receipts and cash disbursement journals—the treasurer uses two separate columnar journals with columns for the amount of each bank deposit (in the cash receipts journal) or for the amount of each check (in the cash disbursements journal). Additional columns of the journals are used to record the amount of the bank deposit or the check into categories consistent with the accounts presented in the church budget. Each month the columns of both journals must be totaled and the totals compared with the check register that, itself has been reconciled with the monthly statement from the bank. The beginning checkbook balance, plus the total bank deposits per the cash receipts journal, less the total checks per the cash disbursements journal, must equal the ending checkbook balance. Periodic reports may be prepared based on summarizing the month-end totals of the journals.
  2. Electronic cash receipts and cash disbursement journals—the treasurer follows the same procedures described above using spreadsheet software.
  3. Accounting software—the treasurer uses QuickBooks, Peachtree, or other low-cost software. While generally around $250 per year (not including a payroll add-on) will be incurred to maintain software, either previous formal training in bookkeeping or considerable on-the-job training will be required.
This information is provided as a service of MinistryCPA.org to ministers and Christian ministries. Please contact us or your personal professional advisor to determine how this information may apply to your own situation.