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Home > Skills > Administration > The Many Sides of Administration
In church management, sometimes pastors follow directives. But we also motivate people, set goals, organize, and initiate. To put it another way, a good pastor-administrator is a good leader.
—Arthur DeKruyter

Early in my ministry, I attended a social gathering in an elder's home. I had just begun thinking about the importance of the pastor's administrative role, and during the evening's conversation, I expressed some of my ideas.

The elder, who happened to be a sharp businessman and a good manager, temporarily forgot most of his own rules for dealing with people. "Never forget that you're working for the church," he informed me in the presence of his peers and mine. "Your job is to carry out the church's directives. Remember, we're paying your salary."

I still feel the sting of those words.

As time passed, however, I noticed that the churches accomplishing things were led by pastors who were, in fact, good administrators—they followed the will of the people, but they also helped shape the church. Harold Ockenga's ministry at Park Street Church in Boston, for example, left a deep impression on me.

At Christ Church of Oak Brook, the board makes policy and the pastor administers it. That means the pastor has the responsibility to implement programs, but also the freedom to lead the board into new policy decisions.

To master church management, one must master administration. It is vital, then, to be clear about the full dimensions of administration. Most pastors recognize they, as administrators, are responsible to carry out board policy. But some are less dear about how an administrator also leads.

In chapter 1, Don Cousins has shown briefly that managers are leaders. Let me, in this chapter, explore the many sides of pastoral administration.

An Administrator Appeals to Higher Needs

Whether I'm creating or implementing a program, people need to be motivated to support it with their time, talents, and treasures. Motivating them is my job as administrator.

Some preachers try to motivate by harping: "If you don't do this, you will one day be responsible before God, your judge." But that doesn't work in our congregation.

Instead, I find Maslow's hierarchy of needs helps me understand human drives and ambitions, and consequently, helps me motivate people. I try to appeal to the higher needs on Maslow's chart—self-fulfillment and service to God and others. When I address those needs, people automatically become motivated, provide funds for church programs, and follow enthusiastically.

For example, we constructed our church building because of one of these higher needs. Eighty families were packed into a gymnasium for worship services. Children overflowed from available classrooms. We needed a home, yes. But more important, with our own building, we could establish ourselves as a dynamic presence in the Oak Brook community. Our motivation compelled us beyond the basic need of adequate shelter. We wanted to make a bold statement for our Lord.

The result is a warm, spacious ...

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Posted: May 19, 2004

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