DALLAS, Texas – The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), an oversight and accreditation organization with more than 2,000 Christian nonprofit organization members that represent more than $16 billion in revenue, has created a new division for churches.
Kenneth Behr, ECFA president, announced the establishment of the Church Division at the 51st National Conference of the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA).
“There are more than 300,000 churches across the United States, and local congregations and their members are seeking guidance and the assurance that association with an organization like ECFA can bring,” said Behr. “In order to help continue and expand its calling, ECFA’s new Church Division will help churches demonstrate the highest standards of accountability that convey God-honoring, ethical practices.”
Members of the Church Division will receive a number of unique benefits, including continuing education provided by ECFA staff at regional seminars and other conferences. Subjects covered will include leadership, governance, financial stewardship, fund-raising and accountability.
ECFA members are growing faster than nonmembers, said Behr. ECFA members reported an average increase in revenue of 13 percent in their last fiscal year, more than double the rate of other nonprofits. ECFA member churches, while currently relatively few in number, reported an average increase in revenue of more than 17 percent.
|In a separate action this spring, ECFA created a new “affiliate membership,” which is designed for smaller ministries. The affiliate membership does not require the costly CPA audit required for ECFA’s existing accredited membership. Although churches are and can continue to be fully accredited members, many medium- to smaller-size churches will likely take advantage of ECFA’s more affordable affiliate membership, Behr said.
ECFA took the first step towards reaching out to evangelical churches when Behr was hired as ECFA president in 2006.
“My first experience with ECFA was when the church where I was a pastor first applied for and later became an accredited member of ECFA,” he said. “I was actually surprised when I came on board at ECFA that only a few of the organization’s members were churches. The Church Division will help us focus on providing value to the local church and ensuring that they have healthy growth with integrity.”
ECFA membership currently includes 16 different evangelical denominations and many local congregations. ECFA member churches typically have been large, with average attendance well over 2,000 and annual budgets in excess of $5 million.
“We know that churches will find value in ECFA membership, both as accredited members as affiliate members. The affiliate membership will be especially attractive for churches, because it is for the smaller ministries that make up more than 90 per cent of all churches in the United States,” said Behr.
ECFA (www.ecfa.org), founded in 1979, provides accreditation to evangelical Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, fund-raising and board governance. ECFA’s 2,000-plus members collectively receive over $16 billion per year in income from their ministry efforts and represent nearly $26 billion in assets.