116. Not A Department, But A Congregation

116. Not A Department, But A Congregation

Korean immigrant churches are usually organized this way: KM (Korean Ministry) and EM (English Ministry). A big issue among immigrant Korean churches has been EM. Just as the name implies, it is often treated as one of the departments in the Korean church, a subsidiary of KM.

However, if a church is organized this way, EM often wants independence or stops growing. If EM grows, its members pursue independence and end up breaking the relationship with KM and leave. Even if they stay, it is difficult for them to paint a bigger picture for their ministry because they remain as a department, receiving a budget from the KM. It is difficult for a grown-up to become energetic and initiative when he is living under his parents’ basement and receiving an allowance.

That is why we keep calling The Seed as “ESC” (English-speaking Congregation), not as “EM”. “EM” is actually a code language only used in Korean or Chinese immigrant churches that people outside of that context do not understand. So to make it clear, our church model is One-Church Two-Congregations: KSC and ESC.

Houston Seoul Church has set a great example for us. Pastor Chai, the former senior pastor of this church, viewed EM as a “congregation”, not a department. He started calling it ESC instead and allowed ESC to have its own bank account and set their own budget even when it was in its infancy. Now, the ESC of this church has grown tremendously and hold house church seminar for pastors and lay-leaders along with KSC. They have shown how it is possible for two different congregations to work together and co-exist under one church.

Our senior pastor has prepared us well for this to happen. For the next few years, we are going to make careful progress toward full financial autonomy. As a first step, we will be putting offering count of ESC in our bulletin so we can keep track of our income. Once we have a good estimation of our yearly income, we will start requesting to be autonomous in the area that can be covered by our income, one at a time. Thankfully, the KSC leadership team has approved of this direction.

Autonomy is not a separation. It is just a natural result of healthy growth. I believe this process will help us to be more responsible and take ownership of this ministry. Because it is the sense of autonomy that fuels responsibility and maturity.