The Financial Relationship of Church Structure

Speaker: Categories: Aug 08, 1987


[1hr, 14min, 37sec / 28min, 8sec]


Adventist finance is BIG business. A steady, uninterrupted, and growing flow of dollars must be the dream of every financial administrator within the church.

In recent years a series of events, seemingly reflecting poor financial judgment, has caused many Seventh-day Adventists to become interested in, if not overtly critical of, just how the financial resources of the church worldwide are managed. Some, feeling "'gross disenchantment with the "system," have chosen to rethink "systematic benevolence," as commonly understood, and have elected to be more discriminating in where their tithe/offering dollars would be placed.

Phil Robertson, who knows church finance both by experience and by academic training, is eminently qualified and prepared to discuss the intricacies of the financial structure upon which our church has become dependent. The following are excerpts of the information he has provided as background for the August 8 presentation:

"The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates with financial support that is provided by a system of benevolence intended to be sensitive to the funding needs of the local church as well as those of the worldwide sisterhood of churches. . . .

"To understand that system, it is important to understand the definition of "tithe" . . . The Seventh-day Adventist Church has historically held that the tithe represents a tenth of the increase experienced by our members which is to be used for the support of gospel ministry . . .

"In addition to the tithe used . . . for the support of the ministry, our church members are encouraged to make freewill offerings for the support of the various programs of the local church and the world field . . .

"As . . . a member of a sisterhood of churches . . . tithe funds are sent on by the local church treasurer to the conference for general support of the ministry . . . The conference disperses these funds for local conference operating as well as administrative support for the Pacific Union Conference, the North American Division, and the world field. A portion of the funds passed along are returned by the Union and the Division to assist some smaller conferences with adequate operational funding.

"The Conference provides support for the local churches from the tithe funds in paying for the pastoral ministry, evangelistic campaigns, nurture functions, financial appropriations to Christian education . . . [and] other departmental, program-oriented functions. The system . . . is reviewed periodically to ascertain that it is functioning satisfactorily."


Phil Robertson is an alumnus of Southwestern Union College and a graduate of Southern Missionary College with a BA degree in Business Administration and a minor in Religion in 1979. While a student, he worked in the accounting department of College Industries and as program director of radio stations KSAC-FM (Keene) and WSMC-FM (Collegedale).

He served as vice-principal/treasurer of Highland Academy, Portland, Tennessee from 1979-82 and as a member of the General Conference Auditing Service from 1982-86. Since April, 1986, he has served as treasurer the Southeastern Californian Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He is a Certified Public Accountant.

He and his wife, Kathie (Thurber), have two children, Steve and Sebrina.

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