198. Financial Autonomy Update

198. Financial Autonomy Update

As ESC (English Speaking Congregation), we started managing our finance this year, apart from KSC (Korean Speaking Congregation). We initiated this financial autonomy project for two primary reasons.

First, we wanted to make ministry decision wisely and quickly in light of our unique English speaking and multi-cultural context, which is very different from KSC. We thought it was necessary to have financial autonomy to make decisions that will help us reach the unchurched people effectively without unnecessary administrative limitations from exiting as a department in KSC. A need for a congregation is vastly different from that of a department within a congregation.

With the Pandemic, we had to re-purpose our fund to adapt to the new norm, live streaming of Sunday service. The decision was simple, and we could quickly pivot because we could make our own financial decision.

Second, we wanted our members to have a greater sense of ownership through running their ministry with their giving. We used to get a fixed amount of budget from KSC regardless of our giving amount. It isn’t easy to be motivated to contribute and dream when you are on an allowance. According to this year’s financial statement, our giving has increased dramatically. It is remarkable how our members gave more generously and sacrificially even through the Pandemic.

One promise we made to KSC before the autonomy was to cover ESC pastor’s salary after the first year of autonomy. Based on the budget projection for next year, we can cover 50% of the lead pastor next year. It is an unexpectedly high percentage, and we are getting closer to full financial autonomy faster than expected.

We are not pursuing financial autonomy so that we can have financial freedom with no limits. We have procedures to ensure all financial expenses and incomes are well reconciled, and the budget is executed with accountability. Once the leadership team finalizes the yearly budget, ministers (all shepherds) need to approve the budget, and it gets adopted by the congregation at the congregation meeting. I sincerely give praise to God for his faithfulness. He indeed does things “immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)

I would also like to thank all our members who have given faithfully this year. You helped create the church unchurched people love to belong and find abundant life in Jesus Christ.