Mixing personally purchased books and books purchased by your church

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Posts 92
Chris Lohroff | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Feb 13 2012 3:09 PM

A friend of mine recently ran into the following issue.  He has his own copy of Logos with a rather extensive library.  He has recently gone on staff at a church and had now purchased books using the church's credit card and added them to his library.  Now the accounting staff at the church is having issues because the books officially belong to the church (since they were purchased with church funding) but they are intermingled in his personal account.

How do you guys deal with this issue?

Posts 905
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 3:14 PM

Typically, a staff member is given a book budget or allowance to enhance their ability to minister to the church.  Again, typically, these books are (in virtually every instance that I'm aware of) considered the sole property of the staff member.  I think the accounting staff would benefit from comparing notes with sister churches for clarification.

 

"I read dead people..."

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 3:18 PM

Chris Lohroff:
Now the accounting staff at the church is having issues because the books officially belong to the church (since they were purchased with church funding) but they are intermingled in his personal account.

If the church wants to consider them as their own, they should get a written agreement with your friend that at the end of his contract, or at a time of their choosing he will transfer the licences to those purchases to a Logos account they nominate, and they will pay the fee (it's $25).

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 3:40 PM

As far as Logos is concerned those books belong to the staff member. Churches as entities cannot be registered licensees of Logos. It is a single-user license. If your friend would agree to the church getting those books back should his employment come to an end, the church would have to designate an individual in the church to be the new owner.

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 4:04 PM

Chris Lohroff:
How do you guys deal with this issue?

He should clarify with the proper authorities (however it works in that local church) a couple of things:

  1. Does he have a book allowance?
  2. Does he have the authority to purchase books, or does he need to seek approval first?

I believe that the accounting staff may be uninformed about the issue (the books should be his), or they may have authority issues (i.e. the pastor is a "hired hand," etc.) Either way, it would be best for someone else to deal with the issue if possible. 

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David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 4:21 PM

OR [after reading the post by alabama24] That friend may be in deep hot water with the church unless he pays the church back.

Has the church been building up its library by buying books for its pastor and staff and then expecting that the books would be left in the library when they left?

Leaving books to a library is a way to build up their library.  Books recommended and used by staff.  But that assumes that they can be used by any church member.  Your friend may need to pay the church back for the books as they cannot be left to the general use of the church. 

[As in   Now:  ‘glory halleluiah the pastor just bought BDAG’  That book goes for $165 and he got it for only $150 from someone called Logos.  Several of our Bible study leaders are looking forward to borrowing that one.’  And then later when one of the other Bible study leaders tries to borrow it: ‘What do you mean that only one person can use it and it must be registered to that one person and we cannot just install it on the church computer?’]


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David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 4:26 PM

alabama24:
  the books should be his 

Or does that church see them as theirs - their money - their book when the friend leaves  ?????

[always get the details in writing before starting]

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 4:48 PM

David Ames:
[always get the details in writing before starting]

Yes

David Ames:
Or does that church see them as theirs - their money - their book when the friend leaves

I understand that others may see it differently. If the church views it as THIER money, something is wrong. If the pastor believes that he is OWED the books, something is wrong. My personal view is that the church should provide for the pastor in many ways, including providing books for his personal study. In the "olden" days, this would have been with a dead tree version. He should be able to mark it up, write in it, and make it his own. When a new pastor comes, they should purchase him new books. 

On the other side, the pastor should not take for granted the resources entrusted to him. The resources of the church are limited. The pastor should probably supplement the book allowance with "out of pocket" funds. Upon a second reading of the OP, I wonder if the pastor friend sought any guidance about the purchase in the first place. Some churches give a long leash, others give a short one. The pastor should be freed to do his work, but he should also be accountable. There should always be a tension between the two, but done with grace & humility.

EDIT: My previous post also came from the knowledge that Logos resources are licensed to the user, and never the organization.

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Posts 201
Garrett Ho | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 4:55 PM

There have been a lot of replies, but what we really need is for the OP to clarify the situation. All we know is that the man bought books with the "church's credit card."

Library, book allowance, etc. were not mentioned. Yet.

There has been a lot of good information provided, but we could be of better help if we knew the specifics.

Posts 1210
Ward Walker | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 5:24 PM

Sounds like a mess in the making ... hopefully the parties reconcile the situation amicably.  

If there is a book budget for the pastor, I'd expect the library remains his.

If he went on a shopping spree using general funds, the church should "own" the resources...but Logos' licensing won't allow that, and even if it did, he'd probably need to fork up the resource transfer fee.  If I were deciding the matter, I'd probably "advance" against future book budgets & validate procedure is clearly understood to make the problem go away.

Posts 2909
Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 7:54 PM

Chris Lohroff:
He has recently gone on staff at a church and had now purchased books using the church's credit card and added them to his library.

The books are not the issue.  Either he had permission to use the credit card for such a purpose or not.  If not, the money should be paid back to the church.  Forget the books.  It is simply a matter of proper or improper use of church funds.

The authorities of the church need to clarify the exact purpose and limits of the use of this credit card.  Any misuse needs to be repaid.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 13 2012 11:41 PM

To resolve the issue, we need to know what created the situation i.e. what was your friend's understanding of the appropriate use of the credit card? What was the accounting team's understanding? It is reasonable to assume that the accounting department did not know that Logos only supports individual accounts - not institutional accounts. It is also reasonable to assume that your friend did (or should) know that purchase were to a individual account. The fact that they are mixed now shouldn't be an issue. The current question is only authorized/unauthorized use of church funds.

When your friend leaves employment another issue arises:

  • are the books his to take without compensating the church i.e. did he use funds appropriated for him to use to purchase personal aids?
  • are the books the church's to pass on to the next employee i.e. do licenses need to be transferred
  • are the books the church's requiring your friend to reimburse the church for the resources when he leaves their employ?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 92
Chris Lohroff | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 14 2012 10:44 AM

Thanks for the help guys.  The issue was caused by a misunderstanding between my friend and the accounting group.  More correctly, it's really the first time they have had to deal with the question of what to do with electronic resources.  I don't believe he has a "book budget" per se but there was certainly no ill intent on his part either.  I guess I was more interested in the logistical question than the ethical or moral question... how do we fix this going forward and how do we ensure we don't end up here again with another pastor.  I didn't realize the resources could be transferred to another account in the future if there is some sort of transition, which gives us a solution if the church decides the resources shouldn't belong to the pastor.

Thanks again guys.  I knew you'd have a helpful answer!

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