The Pastor as Administrator

For many pastors the role of administrator is a responsibility they would just as soon forget. The call to preach, teach, pastor, counsel, and administer the ordinances of the church are challenging roles within the general scope of the sacred calling. Charting organizational structure, managing a work force of people, producing publications and promotion, raising budgets, maintaining records, and analyzing community trends and parish patterns—all sound too much like business. It is hard to put religious symbols on these things or to drape them with holy tapestries.

But the pastor must be an administrator or the work of the ministry will lie like fruit sprawling at the foot of the tree—ungathered, undelivered, and wasted except for that picked up for an appetizer by a casual passerby.

The Master who fed five thousand through the miracle of the loaves and fishes did so by an organized plan. He ordered His disciples to have the people seated in companies of fifty. It was an administrative detail to help fulfill a practical and spiritual mission.

Moses’ endeavors to meet the needs of the children of Israel were observed by Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. He saw that Moses’ personal commitment would destroy his very life and vitality, so Jethro gave counsel that Moses should search out and select men of God who could judge the people in all seasons, thereby relieving Moses for other responsibilities (Exodus 18:14-26).

The Apostle Paul called for things to be done in the Church in a decent and orderly manner. The work of the Kingdom, the ministry of God’s grace, and the care of God’s people mandate administration lest God and humanity are failed by the pastoral ministry.

The early Church was very mobile. But as it grew and ministries expanded, the necessity for deacons arose. A ministry of service was implemented. Had Paul not had an awareness of administration, the saints at Jerusalem may have been prayed for but no offering would have been received to relieve their suffering. Had Paul not answered his mail, some of the New Testament books would not exist.

Administration means that the pastor has a holy sense of what the Church is all about. The pastor is primarily responsible for seeing that the worship, teaching, fellowship, social concerns, and stewardship of the congregation enrich the community of faith and evangelize the alien community.

To accomplish such a task requires spiritual insight, prophetic proclamation, understanding of human dynamics, planning, developing strategy, and the molding of a plan of action. The pastor does not do all these things. One person cannot. But the spiritual dynamic which molds the diversities of gifts and talents, resources and responsibilities into one unit must be provided by the pastor. This unified will then be able to fulfill the purpose of God for that congregation.

The pastor-administrator does not dictate, but molds and directs that which belongs to another. The minister must know the organization and policies of the church being served. The pastor’s responsibility is to the board. Organizational structure may be poor, policies may be inadequate, staff may be incompetent and the real purpose of ministry may be misdirected. The task of the pastor-administration is to motivate, raise expectations, suggest strategies, recruit and train persons, and assist in policy development so that the purpose is clearly understood and ministry is efficient and effective. The inadequate will become adequate and the incompetent competent with administrative leadership.

The administrative process involves pastor and people in planning, organizing, delegating, staffing, coordinating, and controlling. A pastor should not have to neglect the ministry of the church. And if the clergy takes the administrative role seriously, the work as prophet, priest, evangelist, and counselor will be enhanced and extended by the strength, purpose, and unity of the congregation.

Failure to administer will be failure to minister adequately.