Category Archives: Leadership Development

Changing the funding recommendation: an explanation


Jeff Jeremiah

by Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk

On April 24, the National Leadership Team (NLT) reported to you the following recommendation:

The administration and strategic initiatives of the General Assembly ought to be supported by the giving of EPC churches. The expected giving amount from each church should be either $23 per member or one percent of that church’s annual budget. Following fiscal year 2020, the expectation is that all giving should be at the 1 percent level.

On May 23, the NLT announced this change to the recommendation:

The administration and strategic initiatives of the General Assembly ought to be supported by the giving of EPC churches.

Since May 23, many people have asked members of the NLT and me, “What happened?” The short answer is that the NLT asked, listened, and responded to you.

The feedback we received focused on two elements of the April 24 recommendation. The first was reaction to the word “Expected.” There was resistance by too many who took the word “expected” to mean “requirement” or “mandatory requirement.” We also heard, “By doing this, the NLT is moving the EPC to become a ‘top-down, bureaucratic denomination no different from the PC(USA).” The NLT was stunned. Their knee-jerk reaction was to delete “expected.”

There also was resistance to “one percent.” This came from our historically high-supporting Per Member Asking churches.

Per Member Asking (PMA) is the primary way our churches fund the budget of the national level of the EPC. For some of these churches, moving from PMA to one percent meant they would have to increase their giving. Those churches know how much they give, and they are aware of churches who are every bit as capable of giving but do not. They are justifiably frustrated with this situation. They have no interest in increasing their financial support until under-supporting churches step up. The NLT had no interest in antagonizing the churches who have faithfully invested in the EPC for years.

A secondary concern was this: A number of churches expressed support for the move to one percent of their budget because it would decrease their giving to the EPC. For the NLT, this was not the motivation we were looking for as we seek to fund a mission- and vision-driven denomination!

Based on these responses we received, the NLT pulled “expected” and “one percent” from the recommendation, leaving only the strategic initiatives portion of the original recommendation in the proposal. This begs the question, “Where did ‘expected’ and ‘one percent’ come from?” The short answer is that the NLT asked, listened, and responded.

At the end of 2015, support for Per Member Asking was at 61 percent of the goal. Two groups were mostly responsible for this shortfall. The first was a number of recent arrivals to the EPC who had to pay large ransoms in order to come to us. They were not yet in a position to support the EPC. The second group was comprised of some churches who have been in the EPC for a long time. They simply choose not to give, or give very little.

In January 2016, the NLT directed me to engage in what we called a “Listening Tour.” I’d talk with EPC church leaders about how they felt about their relationship with the EPC, let them know that the EPC is becoming a mission- and vision-driven denomination, and asked about their level of financial support to EPC. In April, the NLT received my partial report, and decided they needed more feedback than what I can glean from my one-on-one meetings. They decided to hold focus group meetings at our 2016 General Assembly, which were led by a communications consultant.

As a result of those focus group meetings, we found out there was strong support for funding the strategic initiatives—church planting, church revitalization, effective biblical leadership, and global movement—in the EPC budget. And there were two surprises.

First, we were told that “voluntary” giving to PMA is problematic. The word offered to replace it was “expected”—giving to the EPC should be “expected.”

Second, “PMA” itself is problematic. It’s not a good way to measure a church’s capacity to give. In its place was proposed one percent of a church’s budget.

The NLT received these results in August and asked, “Is this accurate?” We decided to survey the lead pastors of our 600 churches, as we wanted feedback from each church. The results of the survey:

  • Put the strategic initiatives in the EPC budget
  • “Voluntary” giving to the EPC is “problematic,” and “expected” was offered in its place.
  • “PMA” is “problematic,” and “one percent” was offered in its place.

The NLT asked, listened to what you said, and was confident that the original recommendation is what you wanted. We found out differently between April 24 and May 23.

Upon reflection, I realized this mistake. We did not serve you well in that we should have reported to you the results of the focus groups and survey in late October or early November. We could have done this and we didn’t.

In keeping with our “Generation to Generation” General Assembly theme, and paraphrasing Scott Griffin’s sermon in the Moderator’s Service of Communion and Prayer on June 23: I’m a Boomer. Reaching out to Builders: I apologize for that mistake. The buck stops here. Reaching out to the GenXers: I am not the “savvy guy” in this. Reaching out to the Millenials: The National Leadership TEAM will do better in the future.

Let me finish with good news.

Earlier, I reported that 2015 PMA was 61 percent of the goal. Simply by asking what you think about a mission- and vision-driven denomination and listening to what you’ve said, look at what has happened: 2016 Per Member Asking came in at 68 percent of the goal.

We still have work to do. I believe that an acceptable minimum level of support is 80 percent. We’ll keep working on this until you tell us otherwise.

Thank you, and God bless you!


Strategic Initiatives inclusion in EPC budget, special projects approved

Commissioners to the 37th General Assembly approved funding the strategic initiatives of church planting, church revitalization, effective biblical leadership, and global movement into the fiscal year 2018 budget for the EPC Office of the General Assembly. This marks the first year in which the strategic initiatives will be funded through the EPC operating budget. Since their inception in 2014, the initiatives have been funded through undesignated cash reserves.

The total approved July 2017–June 2018 (fiscal year, or FY18) budget for EPC operating expenses is $2,310,583. This amount includes $268,000 in direct funding of the four strategic initiatives, with $135,000 allocated for Church Revitalization; $120,000 for Church Planting; $8,000 for Effective Biblical Leadership; and $5,000 for Global Movement. In addition, 20 percent of Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions to the EPC support Global Movement in the form of funding the overall ministry of World Outreach.

The FY18 budget also includes $1,412,580 for personnel, including staff salaries and benefits, travel, and expenses; and $630,003 for general administration.

The 2017-18 budget represents an increase of $246,350 over the 2016 budget, made possible by some lower costs of operating in Orlando plus projected 5% growth in PMA contributions. Due to a migration from a calendar-year budget to a fiscal-year budget in January 2017, the 2016 budget was the most recent 12-month reporting period.

In addition, the Assembly approved Special Projects requests from the various ministries of the EPC totaling $771,500. These projects are funded from designated giving and are separate from the operating budget.


2017 Leadership Institute: Reclaiming the Joy of Evangelism and Discipleship in the Local Church

GA2017LI-ReclaimTheJoyOfEvangelismIn the 2017 Leadership Institute seminar Reclaiming the Joy of Evangelism and Discipleship in the Local Church, Bill Senyard explained the importance of understanding the deepest unspoken and unmet needs of people as a key to a fruitful evangelism and discipleship ministry.

“Underneath the mask, we have insecure, fearful people with high expectations,” he said. “Millennials especially are a specialty ministry.”

Senyard was a pastor for 21 years and currently serves on the EPC GO Center Revitalization Team.


2017 Leadership Institute: Transformational Family Ministries

GA2017LI-TransformationalFamilyMinistriesIn the 2017 Leadership Institute seminar Transformational Family Ministries, Martha Daniel noted the importance of recognizing life’s milestones.

“When you think about milestones in family ministry, of course birth comes first—it’s the first milestone in life! So how do we come alongside parents to celebrate the life of their new baby? One of the things we do that is really practical is we take a Christian lullaby CD and a meal to the new parents. That not only blesses them in a practical way but it gives us a personal connection and the opportunity to get to know these families better.”

Daniel serves as Minister to Families for Memorial Park Church in Allison Park, Pa.


2017 Leadership Institute: Leaders Who Matter

GA2017LI-LeadersWhoMatterIn the 2017 Leadership Institute seminar Leaders Who Matter, Erik Ohman discussed how effective leaders deal with conflict in the church.

“What did Jesus tell us? God blesses those who work for peace,” he explained. “When you deal with conflict instead of just letting it fester, you are someone who is trying to institute a correct peace.”

Ohman serves as Pastor of Warsaw Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Warsaw, Ind., and is a former member of the EPC National Leadership Team.


2017 Leadership Institute: Mobilizing People and Making Ministry Happen

GA2017LI-MobilizingPeopleIn the 2017 Leadership Institute seminar Mobilizing People and Making Ministry Happen, Bill Rasch of the EPC GO Center explained how to build consensus and pursuit of a vision in the church.

“Unity takes time and effort, and has to be continually nurtured,” he said. “We have to start with ‘how’ and ‘why,’ not ‘what.’ More people will connect on a deeper level with the who and why of what you are doing, and not necessarily the what.”

Rasch also referenced sociological studies that reveal 84 percent of people will not catch a new vision right away. “Start with the innovators and early adopters, who typically represent 16 percent of your community and will drive the vision and implementation of the vision.”


2017 Leadership Institute: Multiplying Leaders: Internships and Residency Programs

GA2017LI-InternshipsAndResidencyProgramsTyler Crowley, Director of Worship for Hope Church in Richmond, Va., described the benefits of ministry interns and praxis participants to attendees of the 2017 Leadership Institute seminar Multiplying Leaders: Internships and Residency Programs.

“‘Embedded’ is a great way to think of how we do it, because the program at Hope is a ten-month internship. I’ve been able to witness life change in our praxis program in a more intensive, focused way than in just about any other type of ministry I’ve been involved in.”