Creative Church Administration [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Lyle E. Schaller & Charles A. Tidwell
eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Enthusiasm, involvement, and know-how are the key words for creative church administration.
Nationally known church planners and administrative consultants Lyle E. Schaller and Charles A. Tidwell offer the know-how to make your church, no matter what size or denomination, exciting, well-organized, and up-to-date!
Creative Church Administration provides the accumulated experience of thousands of churches -- what they did wrong and what they did right -- to meet the growing needs of the church today and the church of the future. Through innovative planning, they increased membership, made decisions in a positive manner, encouraged creativity, used finances efficiently and effectively -- and your church can reach these same goals.
eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2002
Why another book on church administration?
In responding to that question it may be helpful first to review the changing emphases in church administration since the turn of the century.
The first books to be published on church administration can be described simply as sharing experiences. They are to church administration, as we know it today, what reminiscences and autobiographies are to history.
The value of these early efforts to systematize the experiences of a "successful" pastor should not be dismissed lightly, however. Their authors made several significant contributions, among them the sharing of "lessons from experience," the recognition that there were skills that could be transmitted from one person to another, and the focusing of attention on another dimension of the minister's work in addition to the traditional responsibilities of preaching, visitation, and evangelism.
An examination of these books reveals that they tended to be based on a task-oriented approach. They were directed at pastors serving in congregations organized around a series of semi-independent and largely self-contained groups such as the Sunday school, the Ladies' Aid, a youth organization, a men's club, and similar subgroups.
The subject matter was confined largely to church finances and raising money, increasing church attendance, working with a church board, organizing an office, the use of equipment, program ideas, staff relationships, and public relations.
Without exception the authors projected a concept of the traditional leadership pyramid with the pastor sitting in the seat at the top. (Since most of these books were written before I was born, I lack a first-hand knowledge of the situation, but I have a hunch that in many congregations the pastor sat in the seat at the top of the leadership pyramid on public display, while a layman occupied the seat in the less visible leadership pyramid that represented reality.)
Beginning a little later and overlapping this group of task-oriented books on church administration came a seemingly endless series on "leadership training." That term has since been applied to so many different concepts of administration that anyone using it today should follow it up immediately with a two-or three-paragraph definition of what he means by those words. The earlier authors, however, were reasonably clear on what they meant by leadership training. As Frederick A. Agar, one of the most prolific and concise of these men wrote: "This little book undertakes to deal with the training of lay leaders for the task of the Church. As the United States army needed a Plattsburg for the training of her officers, so does the Church need trained lay leaders to lead her forces to victory." Other writers concentrated their efforts on such specialized tasks as evangelism, church finances, preaching, and the Sunday school.
One of the major themes that ran through both the books on church administration in general and the volumes on specific functions was the importance of efficiency. Whether this was a cause of or a response to the emphasis on efficiency in public education it is impossible to say with absolute assurance. My guess, however, is that it was a reflection of what was being said and written in educational administration, where some remarkable standards were being developed to measure the "efficiency" of a school system.
In summary, the literature on church administration of the first three decades of this century reflected an emphasis on tasks, on efficiency, on the value of organization, and on the minister as the center of the local ecclesiastical circle.
During the next three decades most of the books in the field tended to parallel the approach, style, and emphasis of the first third of the century. There were, however, five significant additions to this stream.
The first -- and possibly the first book that can be said to mark a major watershed in church administration -- was written by William H. Leach. In Church Administration (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1931) he made two major contributions. First, he recognized that the local church was founded around worship and education, and that administrative practices were geared to functions, not organization or execution. Second, he argued for a holistic approach to local church programming. In doing this he was thirty or forty years ahead of most of his supporters, but he helped to prepare the ground for one of today's most important concepts in local church administration, one that thus far has received its greatest support from persons trained in Christian education.
A second important addition to the basic concepts undergirding the discipline was a recognition of the local church as an organization. This contrasts with the earlier view of the local church as a cluster of more or less unrelated and semi-independent organizations. It reflects both Leach's emphasis on a holistic approach and also the changing nature of the local church in American culture.
Perhaps the most highly visible -- and also the least valuable -- addition to the general subject of church administration was the adaptation of the Madison Avenue advertising approach to presenting the Christian gospel. The beginnings of this trend go back to before 1930, and the best-known example of it was Bruce Barton's interpretation of Jesus as a model of the successful businessman and salesman.
A fourth addition to the traditional pattern was the publication of a number of books by laymen with specific administrative skills who were suggesting how the methods, techniques, and wisdom that had been accumulated in business could be utilized by the churches. While these were not the first contributions by laymen to the written literature on church administration, they tended to be written from a base of administrative skill rather than simply from enthusiasm and personal experience.
The fifth and unquestionably the most important addition made to the stream of books on church administration during this thirty-five-year period consisted of a large number of volumes that shifted the emphasis from the organization to the people. This group can be divided into two categories. In the smaller one the emphasis is on identifying groups of people with common characteristics, such as the elderly, youth, young married couples, young adults, and the divorced or the widowed.
The larger category consists of a flood of books on the dynamics of groups, the character of the small group, and interpersonal relationships. It is difficult to overstate the impact this literature has had on the life, vitality, and value system of the local church. It is also difficult to overstate the impact this school of thought has had and is having on church administration. Incidentally, some of the best books in this field have been published since 1965, by such persons as Clyde Reid, Robert C. Leslie, Mary Alice Douty, and Carl Rogers.
Since 1965 three major additions have been made to the study of church administration. The best of the three, Alvin J. Lindgren's Foundations for Purposeful Church Administration (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1965), combines an emphasis on people and interpersonal relationships with an understanding of administration as a process rather than a task, and sets all this within the context of the Christian faith and the call to the church to be in mission.
The newest of the three is To Come Alive! by James D. Anderson (New York: Harper and Row, 1973). This is a pioneering effort by an Episcopal priest to adapt the concepts of organizational development to congregational renewal.
The most difficult to read of the three was written by a Church of England clergyman from Tasmania. In this volume, Ministry and Management: Studies in Ecclesiastical Administration (London: Tavistock Publications, 1968), Peter Rudge combines the insights of public administration with a solid theological perception of the church and offers today's church leader a base for utilizing many of the insights and methods of contemporary administration. This book represents the best effort thus far to adapt the methods and skills of public and business administration to church administration. Between these three volumes and the books on church administration published before 1960 is a gulf comparable to the difference between the DC-3 and the 747.
Running against this current has been a growing tide of sentiment which is critical of any effort to use "business" procedures in the churches. Much of this criticism can be reduced to five negative comments.
The first is an echo of Pelagianism. Pelagius, a British monk, came to Rome near the end of the fourth century and saw a pressing need for reform. He argued that man was given the degree of free will sufficient to fulfill his obligations to God and need only exert himself to do so. The Pelagians denied that the taint of Adam's sin had been transmitted to all Adam's descendants. The concept that man is a moral person and is able to follow God's will if he only chooses to act in a moral manner was declared heretical by the Council of Ephesus in 431. The contemporary Pelagians in the churches often contend that through the use of scientific management practices the worshiping congregation can be a completely faithful servant of God. This book is based on a very strong affirmation of the doctrine of original sin, and much of it is based on the assumption that structures and organizations created and managed by sinful people tend to undermine the individual's and the congregation's attempts to be faithful and obedient to the call of God.
The second criticism is that good management practices in the churches tend to be counterproductive. This point has some validity in that all too often the emphasis on management does tend to close doors to the Holy Spirit and to be counterproductive in the long run. This criticism is less significant for those who believe in the orthodox Christian doctrine of the universality of sin, who are convinced that God is at work in the world today, and who recognize that planning never solves problems but only means trading one set of problems for a different set. One response to this dilemma can be found on pages 58-62.
The third criticism is that good management practices in the churches are too complex and that everything should be kept very simple. When translated into operational English this criticism suggests that the goal should be to become less sensitive to the needs of people. It is a truism that the more sensitive an organization is to the needs of people, the more complex will be its operation. Jesus repeatedly encountered people who sought a simple road to salvation.
The fourth of these contemporary criticisms has real validity and underscores the importance of the concept of the universality of sin. Too often good management practices begin as a means to an end and soon become an end in themselves (the balanced church budget is a very common example of this). When looked at seriously, however, this is not really a criticism of good management practices. Poor administrative practices also become canonized. The use of average attendance, rather than qualitative factors, in evaluating the Sunday school is perhaps the most common example of this. There is persuasive evidence that not only do quantity and quality not go together in the Sunday school, but they actually appear to be incompatible. The problem identified by this criticism is real, but the source of the problem lies in the sinful nature of man and of the institutions he creates, not in administrative and management practices, good or bad.
The last of these five criticisms is the most frivolous. It is commonly expressed in these words: "The emphasis on good administrative practices may be all right for General Motors, but the church is not General Motors!" The second half of that statement is true, but simply because General Motors or IBM places a high premium on good administration does not mean the churches should place a very low value on administration. Should the churches also stop using electricity, paper, filmstrips, or enclosed buildings simply because these are used by secular organizations?
It is within this historical and critical context that this volume should be examined. Our intention is to emphasize creativity. The first chapter is based on the assumption that creativity is influenced by the frame of reference church leaders carry around with them and by the organizational context. Most of this initial chapter is devoted to suggesting how the organizational structure can be altered to increase participation, enthusiasm, creativity, widespread ownership of goals, and openness to innovation. The second chapter is based on the assumption that the leaders in every congregation attempt to plan, but that too often the planning model used sets up a self-defeating process. Several different planning models are discussed in this chapter, and the merits of flexibility are emphasized.
The third chapter is a response to the plea spoken most often by church leaders -- "How do we motivate people?" This is followed by a chapter directed at the enlistment of people. This fourth chapter is directed toward the identification and development of volunteers for leadership and emphasizes the need for a continuing process including support of volunteer leaders after they have assumed leadership roles.
One of the most effective methods of encouraging creativity is to listen and to learn from others. Two approaches for this are described in the fifth chapter. The first is how to elicit the hopes, dreams, and wishes of the members. The second is how to learn from the experiences of other congregations in other places.
A plan for ministry is an essential element of creative church administration, and the nature, values, and process of developing a church ministries plan constitute the sixth chapter.
Perhaps the major issue facing thousands of long-established congregations is how to reach a new generation of people, and also the millions of church members who have "dropped out of church," with the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is the subject of the seventh chapter.
Three issues which most often occupy a large amount of time for those concerned with church administration are setting the salary for the minister for the coming year, financing capital improvements, and the use of the building. These three subjects are discussed in chapters 8, 9, and 10.
An essential element of church administration is evaluation, a process which traditionally has been highly dependent on the use of quantitative measurements. Several approaches to building qualitative measurements into the evaluation process are discussed in the last chapter.
Occasionally the reader of a book with more than one author inquires as to who wrote which parts of the volume. This is a fair question, and in this case it is also an easy one to answer. This introduction and chapters 1, 2, 5, 7, the first half of 8, and 10 and 11 were written by Schaller, while Tidwell is the author of chapters 3, 4, 6, the second half of 8, and all of chapter 9.
Together we hope that the reader will find it helpful and also consistent with the emerging emphases in church administration to be more sensitive to the differences among people, to be conscious of the blighting impact of institutional pressures, to avoid self-defeating behavior, to be more conscious of the call to be faithful and obedient than of the call to be "successful," and to be ever mindful that church administration is God-centered, Spirit-led, and person-oriented.
Copyright © 1975 by Abingdon Press