Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A spirituality of management?

When I went into pastoral ministry, probably the one area I least looked forward to was the task of administering/managing the program. I saw myself as leader yes, but administrative tasks seemed so mundane. Well, 25 years (almost) after being ordained and heading into my 12th year as congregational pastor, I am faced with the fact that administration and management are part of my portfolio. Today, for instance, between leading my two sessions of Theology 101, I will meet with a lighting consultant. I'm also in the midst of working with a task force revising the constitution and developing a new website. It's easy to ask -- where is the spirituality in this? Or shouldn't I be doing something else? You could answer, well administration isn't my calling and if things don't get done, well I guess they weren't that important -- I've had those thoughts -- but I've also discovered that if I don't attend to the management areas of ministry, the other areas simply fall flat.

Reading Bruce and Kate Epperly's Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry (Alban, 2009), has been extremely helpful in this regard. They help us, as pastors, look at what we're doing, including administration, as a place of prayer and contemplation, knowing that God is present even in these activities. They write this about a spirituality of management:

A spirituality of management, grounded in appreciative and affirmative reflection, is essential for today's pastors, given that congregational change is inevitable and failure to see God in the details, relationships, and decision processes of managing a church can only result in chaos. The two of us believe that spirit-centered and affirmative managers are (1) contemplative in their managerial style, (2) recognize that we are part of a dynamic body of Christ that holds many gifts and visions beyond our own, (3) place a high priority on encouragement and affirmation in their managerial relationships, and (4) expect and look forward to surprises and opportunities for creative transformation for themselves and their congregations. To those who ask, What's management got to do with ministry? prayerful pastors understand that their approach to management and administration is essential to their spiritual growth and the spiritual growth of their congregations. (pp. 138-139).

The key, it would seem, is to be alert to God's presence even in the tasks of administering and managing a church!


Danny Bradfield said...

You've mentioned this book several times. I ordered a copy last week, and it's on its way; can't wait to read it.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


You won't be disappointed. It's an excellent book for pastors!