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What are church coffers?

church coffers

A coffer is a safe or strongbox used to secure money or valuables. In this age of electronic banking, high-tech burglar alarms, and insurance firms that protect against such hazards as fire and theft, it seems unlikely that most churches would depend upon a two-ton, steel-walled safe to protect the congregation’s valuables; however, an online search revealed at least one firm that markets safes and strongboxes to churches.

More commonly, church coffers (plural) is a general term referring to a church’s finances or financial resources. Depending on the size of the church, a church’s finances can be complex and involved. A church’s expenses may include
• personnel—salaries, benefits, payroll taxes
• facilities—mortgage or rent, maintenance, insurance, utilities
• administrative—office supplies, internet, software
• engagement tools—church website, live streaming
• outreach—missions, youth ministries, evangelism, benevolence
When people give to these funds, they are putting money in the church coffers.

But church coffers can be increased through other means as well. Besides weekly donations from its congregants, a church’s income may include revenue from a church coffee shop, bookstore, fundraising events, gifts of stocks or bonds, and non-cash donations such as automobiles or household items.

Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus in charge of the small band’s coffers, was a thief who helped himself to money set aside for the Lord’s use (John 12:6). Regrettably, there are Judas Iscariots today who, if given a chance, will help themselves to money from the church coffers—money that rightfully belongs to the Lord. To prevent such pilfering, it is advisable for more than one person to handle contributions to the church. A thief will be less emboldened if others are observing the collecting, counting, and depositing of money. Larger churches with bigger budgets generally employ the services of independent auditors to ensure proper financial accountability.

A church’s financial needs are met by the faithful giving of its members. As believers, we should consider giving, not as a chore or obligation, but as another opportunity to serve our Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote,

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Corinthians 9:6–15, ESV)

Besides supporting their home churches, believers will do well to give to parachurch ministries that faithfully proclaim God’s Word while equipping the saints in their walk with the Lord. As always, it is good to know how these ministries handle their funds. Just as churches and parachurch ministries have an obligation to use what’s in their coffers wisely, donors are responsible for the quality and quantity of their giving. God expects us to be wise stewards of His money (Matthew 25:14–30).

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This page last updated: July 25, 2023