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The Alban Weekly will resume publication on January 9, 2023. Blessings to you in this holiday season!

Yes, you read the title correctly. This week, we’re talking about administration and joy — at the same time. After reading this, you may not feel giddy as you approach your next finance committee or governing board meeting. But maybe you can reframe the work of administration and consider how routine and seemingly mundane tasks advance the mission of the gospel and contribute to the well-being of your congregation.

For clergy who do not feel particularly drawn to the work of administration, it may help you to notice that the word “minister” is an etymological root of “administration.” When we supervise, manage and evaluate, we are accomplishing so much more than busy work. We are serving the people of God. Clergy may not possess all the skills needed to provide the level of oversight the congregation requires. And that is okay. In most churches, there are people with expertise who can be tapped for specific roles. In some churches, the best option may be to ask these individuals to volunteer as trusted advisors.

The form and function of administration in a church depends largely upon the size of the congregation (although denominational context plays a part, too). For example, smaller congregations may not need to hire a full-time employee to oversee the finances. Medium and larger congregations will, at some point, reach a stage where volunteers, contractors and part-timers simply cannot keep up with the pace of the work. Whatever structure you use, however, it is vital for the senior clergy to be engaged in administration. Healthy congregations and wise leaders know that effective administration is a critical tool for carrying out the mission and vision of the church.


Resources

Martyrdom of the mundane

By Louis B. Weeks


Before you go…

I invite you to remember one simple thought that has helped me reframe the way I view administration: administration is ministry. While seminary did not train us to be human resource professionals, budget managers or strategic planners, these practices are crucial components of effective pastoral leadership.

It’s joyful to think about what good administration makes possible. We can provide better and more consistent congregational care. We can offer programs to the community that deliver what we promise. Good administration improves communication and reduces conflict. As you make plans for the coming year, how will you take the ministry of administration to the next level?

You can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next time, keep leading! 

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

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