Dealing With The Budget Surplus

When I first came to Seoul Baptist, the church finances were not in good shape. But they improved dramatically in a very short time and we haven’t had financial difficulty in a long time; our budget has always been in the black.

The main reason our finances have improved is that most of our church members tithe. Almost 90% of our offering comes from tithes.

Another reason is Brother Tae Woo Park. We have gone through three building projects during my tenure. Each time, Brother Park took charge. He donated his free time and used his experience and connections to get low cost building materials and cheap labor.

Another important reason is that our church members have been very cooperative with our frugal financial policies. Although many churches provide free lunches on Sundays, we ask our members to pay for their own meals and everyone complies without complaining. Many Korean-American churches provide free sermon tapes for people who want to give them to non-believing friends, but we ask members to buy them out with their own money, and again, people do so without complaining. When members work late for different ministries, they buy their own meals without expecting reimbursement.

The remodeling of the sanctuary and construction of the guest house is now complete and new equipment has also been installed. We’re now expecting a surplus in the church budget. We have committed to using this surplus fund not for ourselves but for others. So we sent $100,000 from last year’s surplus to the Pyong Yang University of Science and Technology which is opening next year. We sent another $100,000 to Yenben University of Science and Technology to help them install a water purifying system. Their water pipes are so old that they’re tap water is red with rust.

We chose these two institutions because a former and a current deacon are working for them. But starting next year, the surplus fund will be given to institutions or projects worthy of funds that have ministry philosophies that are consistent with ours. Projects related to house churches will receive the highest priority. Next will be mission projects, then community service. We want to make sure that funds will not be used for ongoing operations but for projects that can be completed with our funds that have lasting effects. Projects will be selected by a committee consisting of the director of House Church Ministries, International, the directors of the Missions and Charity Departments, the chairman of the Board of Deacons, the church treasurer, and myself.

We will not have a surplus if we are liberal in using church funds. I encourage church members to continue to save the church as much money as possible. I also encourage you to hold on to our practice of being stingy with ourselves but generous with others. Only by doing this will we have a surplus with which we can help others.

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