Church, like any other organization needs to keep adequate accounting records in order to report its financial dealings to its reader. This study focuses on accountability in Nigeria churches, relevant data was collected from respondents using very well prepared questionnaires and oral interviews and analyzed by the means of simple percentages. It was found that churches do not maintain any known accounting system and do not use those knowledgeable in accounting for its records. It is then concluded that mismanagement in churches and records which allows lack of accountability. It is our recommendation that churches should employ proper formal accounting and use persons capable of keeping accounting records in their organizations.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
As a matter of fact, accounting is not very new in the history of men. Anywhere and whenever economic activities have progressed beyond the most elementary conditions of service and production, the accounts system have appeared. As far back as 4500BC, accounts system have been found, hence Greek, Romans, Egyptians, early European and medieval accounting records are in existence. In fact man have used accounting recording at any stage of his development according to their needs.
Accounting environment has undergone vast changes on the past and an accelerating rate of change is in prospect for the future. As at today what is been accepted as accounting would have been recognized as such fifty years ago, as such, one may safely predict that in fifty or more years’ time, the subject will bear little resemblance to what it is today. Accounting from the view point of American Accounting Association (AAA, 1996) they defined it thus: “is the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgment and decision by the users of information”. Well according to the Bible, “church” is defined as “the body,” which Christ is the head. Therefore, church is assembly of citizens that acknowledge Jesus Christ as their supreme ruler. Church as an organization possessed the characteristics of non-profit making.
According to B.N. Okezie, FCA (2000) Defined non-profit making organization as those that possess following characteristics:
“Non-profit making organization thereby non-trading and non-service rendered except to their members and having their major source of funding through subscription from such members.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of the churches, though non-profit maximization but this churches realized revenue as they meet for fellowship through tithes, offering, donations, persuasions etc, this revenue as a matter of facts, have to be properly accounted for, hence the members may wish to know if this revenue are properly utilized by the management. On this note, there is that need for accountability by the management hence nature demands that any one who is given work to perform must be accountable to it. According to Kohe’s Dictionary for accountants, 6th edition, he defined accountability as ‘the obligation of an employee, agent, or other person to supply a satisfactory report after periodic of action or of failure to act following delegate authority”.
Accountability in this perspective is stewardship. As a matter of fact, stewardship accounting has its origin in the function which accounting serve from the earliest time in the history of our society. Essentially, accountability can not be achieved without involving orderly recording of the organization financial and non-financial transactions, and this agrees with the accounting term “fairness”. “Adequacy and propriety” in other words, the ability of financial statement to convey in ambiguous and adequate information.
The word stewardship have been considered so important that St. Luke Gospel chapter 16 verse 2, said “and he called him and said unto him, how is it that I hear this? Give an account of the steward for thou sayest be no longer steward”.
Therefore, if accountability and fairness is to be achieved in any organization which includes church as a focus of this research, there must be an adequate and constant accounting system.
At this point, we consider the word accounting system, according to Eric L. Kohler, he defined accounting system as: “The classification of account, form, procedures and control by which assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and the result of transactions generally are recorded and controlled”.
On this note, this research aim of examining the accountability in churches. To know when they have general accepted accounting principle different from the one used by profit making organizations.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This project work geared towards examining orderly recording of church accounts. Most of the churches encountered problems like the following:
- mismanagement of fund
- not adopting the required accounting system
- Churches do not audit their accounts to know if their account is true and fair view.
- Churches do not keep proper record of their assets.
- Churches do not employ professional accountant instead they may use their secretary, treasurer and any other person to do the recording which is an abuse to the accounting profession. In a situation like this, accountability which is the watch word in an organization will see impossible and there by disunity and misunderstanding is inevitable.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Many organization fail to achieve their objectives as a result of misappropriation of money in most cases, it is because of improper recording of the money as well as the accounting system operational by the organization. Again some organizations especially churches may not see the need to employ experts in this field, rather her members who may not have the required skill will be appointed to do the recording and this can raise to distortion of the account.
This put together amount to problem in church accounting. On this note, this research will go a long way to convince churches on reasons for them to adopt accounting principles. It will equally educate the members of the church on why they should appreciate proper record keeping especially those who did not see any reason for account to be kept.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- Do churches keep proper accounting book from our study?
- Which accounting system is adopted by churches?
- Who keep the account?
- Does your church engage in profit making venture outside its constitutional obligations?
- Does your church have accounting period?
- Do they keep to the principle of double entry?
- Are assets appropriately depreciated?
- Does your church account subject to auditing?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
As a matter of fact, it is of the reseracher interest that church accounting should be prepared basically on the general accepted accounting principle. The reason behind this is the fact that today there are alarming rate of fraudulent acts in the church by the members whop sees themselves to be more advantageous than others for the fact that they occupied position in the church and is only by an accepted accounting principles that other interested parties can base their legal action, hence disagreement and dispute is inevitable.
Again the researcher tends to know if the various account required by the nature of the church are actually kept or not and if yes, does it truly serve the purpose it was prepared for to those churches.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Owing to the rate at which churches spread all over the state, there is no statistical record available as per the number of churches in Imo state, as a result it is not possible to have raw accounting information about these churches. On this note, the study covers the importance of accountability in various churches.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Due to the much neglect recorded in the church accounting over the years by the professional bodies and authors, this accounts is no little measure to the low level of text available on the subject matter. It is a matter of interest to know that the mind behind founding of churches today has a lot to do with ownership, unlike what is used to be before as a result, those in position to give vital information required about the church may be difference because of the state of primacy of these churches.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Church: it is defined as assembly of citizens that acknowledge Jesus Christ as their supreme ruler.
Accountability: this is a systematic process of orderly recording of organization financial and non-financial transactions with aid of providing financial report in fairness.
Fairness: this is an extension of the objectivity principle. In view of the fact that there are many users of accounting information, all having different needs. The fairness principle requires that accounting reports should be prepared not to favour any group or segment of the society.
Entity: it can be seen as curry economic unit, regardless of its legal form of existence.
Accounting: this is the process of providing information regarding primarily, the financial activities of economic entities so that the user of this information may make decision about the entities., it can also be carried out through recording, classifying and summarizing figures in a systematic manner and in terms of money transaction and others.
Accounting system: this is a system or medium through which fundamental accounting concepts and accounting standard adopted in recognizing, measuring and making an item of revenue, expenses, gain, loss or any assets or liability.
Accounting concepts: these are the broad assumptions which are followed in the preparation of the periodic financial statement of the business enterprises.
Accounting procedures: these are procedures that help us to systematically record, classify, summarizes and report transactions as well as interpret or provides avenue for propose understanding of the accounting reports.
Accounting policies: these are bases, rules, principles, convention and procedure adopted in preparing and presenting financial statement.