Artful Administration

A great deal of ministry work is administration. There was a class for it in seminary, but it was an elective and I skipped it. That decision, like my decision to skip all the youth ministry courses and to devote hours each week to practicing intramural flag football, is all the evidence you need of my shortsightedness as a seminarian.

The instincts you need to cultivate and the habits you need to nurture to be an effective church administrator seem to me as artistic as they are technical. Good administration is an art. It resists rigid schemes of automation in favor of systems and processes that accentuate the human, both in the administrator and the things he is administering.

For instance, I have employed the checklist as a tool for administering the kinds of major events I have to lead like mission trips and retreats. Heck, in my context most Sundays are major events, so I have a checklist for that too. There are categories in these checklists: leadership (have I recruited the volunteer leaders I need? Have we background checked them?); communication (Have I publicized the details of the event, with a clear deadline and easy-to-follow instructions for signing up?); travel (have I booked the van(s) or the bus or the plane that will get us there?).

What’s dawning on me is that mechanically implementing these checklists doesn’t make for vibrant ministry or flourishing leaders. They’re best viewed as tools to be creatively employed by leaders who bring their full humanity and vision to ministry.

Church administration is an art. I need to level up my art.

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