Church Administration

Shelterglen University
School of Theology

By Definition

            Church administrators and managers are basically overseers of the mechanical functions and tangible facilities of a local church. Church administrators work hand in hand with the spiritual leaders of the specific congregation to make sure that the tangible property and people involved in maintaining and operating that property are functioning correctly to the best of it’s ability. Church administrators and mangers are the chief facilitators and coordinators of the congregation. 

           In Acts 6:1-6 we see the Biblical example of the first church administrators. Some congregations use terms like administrative assistant, administrative pastor, trustee, deacon, or deaconess for those who took care of the physical aspects of Christian service. However, in this text, they are described in the administrative aspects of the local church, congregation and government.


Knowing the Fellow Servants

          To be an effective church administrator one must first of all know the operation of the church. One must be totally aware of and be acquainted with the entire staff of the church. From janitor to Senior Pastor, knowing the people you are working with and for will help you make better decisions that will better the operation of the church and the congregation that worships in that facility.   

        The church administrator must know the staff members work schedules, so that their time at the church will be utilized to the fullest capability. The effective church administrator should have an adequate knowledge of each staff members job description. The church administrator must be fully aware of specific rank and order and know to whom he or she is accountable to and responsible for.

        An administrator that has just recently been appointed should plan to spend a good bit of time with each staff member of the church to see what exactly they are doing, where their special abilities may or may not be and what they need to make their jod and/or ministry easier and more effective. 


Scheduling the use of the Facilities

         If the church administrator is also to be the one in that particular congregation which schedules the various events and activities in the facility, knowing the information about the staff and their typical schedules and being organized in the scheduling processes of the church facility, will very simply avoid less confusion and hopefully eliminate scheduling conflicts. Thorough and direct communication is totally necessary to make sure all aspects of the scheduling process compliment the various ministries and activities of the congregation.


Overseeing and Delegating Responsibilities

        A church administrator must be one who is able to correctly delegate responsibility to those who are qualified to handle the various duties of the church. This may include the hiring process of various maintenance personnel and/ or overseeing such personnel to make sure that their assigned tasks are being accomplished on time and in a competent fashion.  

       Showing a balance of firmness and grace will help the church administrator in the relationships not only with those who he or she is accountable to, but also to those whom they are responsible for.

        The church administrator must have well established boundaries by which employees underneath his or hers supervision are governed. Knowing what is enough and what is not enough in advance, will make easier transitions of responsibility. Understanding when responsibility for certain tasks should be delegated to qualified staff and church members is key to running a smooth and efficient operation. Knowing when limitations and knowledge are exhausted, and when it is time to call someone else in is a very important concern. Never try to be the “jack of all trades, master of none”. The best results in the affairs and ministries of the local church are obtained when delegating and empowering others is done, instead of controlling and manipulating.          


Financial Disbursements

          If the church administrator is given any authority to make decisions regarding financial disbursements, it is important to know the precise budgetary limitations of the specific project in question and stay within those boundaries. It is generally good to leave a 5-7% conservative edge on those expenditures in case other unknown additional costs should arise. When additional costs arise and surplus expenditures need to be made, the financial administrator should be very careful to first of all obtain approval from whomever it would be required of, and also to keep very accurate records. Then if there are any questions in the future regarding these excess expenditures, there is a paper trail of necessary evidence to reinforce why such decisions were made. This displays the responsibility and accountability of the administrator.     


Knowing Computers

                Basic computer skills are primary to getting most any job done. Computers are used in just about every occupation including church administration. PCs or personal computer’s are the most widely used. Computers come in a variety of sizes and configurations. From the small hand held personal organizers and date books, to the room filling manufacturer’s robotic controllers, they all serve various purposes and help to make our work easier and quicker. They can be linked together into groups, sometimes referred to as networks, or they can operate independent from one another to perform specific tasks.


Most computers consist of five primary components:


1). Monitor (viewing screen helps you see the various activities and functions of the computer.)

2). Tower (brains, or actual computer element which may include the memory systems or hard drive for data storage, the various programs used in the function of that computer, a network card which connects the computer to a network or other computers, and a device called the modem which connects the computers to others or to the internet.)

3). Keyboard (used to control input, output to the computer primarily through the typing process. It also is useful in directing the various activities and functions of the computer.)  

4). Mouse (a hand held device that make a small arrow move across the screen to accomplish tasks more quicker than typing.)

5). Printer (used to produce documents generated by the computer system. Various types of printers include dot matrix, laser, ink jet, bubble jet and several others.


       Most computers will turn on the entire system by simply pushing the power button on the tower or brains of the computer. However, it is important to note that some complex systems require you to turn on each individual piece of equipment. It may also be important to find out if there is a specific order these various pieces of equipment should be turned on and off. Sometimes this makes the difference between injuring or even destroying the inside working components of a piece of equipment.    

      Most office computing utilizes a program or operating system called “Windows” which is a series of framing devices around the work field of the monitor which help you accomplish the desired goals of your situation. Usually at the top of the screen there is a series of words and icon (or picture) boxes put together in a collective series called a toolbar. The bottom of the screen typically shows you what program(s) are in use at the current time. The toolbar is usually controlled by moving the little white arrow (by moving the mouse) so that it points on the specific area or task that you want the toolbar to help you do. By “clicking” on the mouse (suppressing the left front button on the mouse quickly) you will activate the specific tool or function that you are desiring.

       Learning how to use the various programs that your specific workplace uses will be something you will have to be personally instructed on. Computer programs, sometimes referred to as software, are geared specifically to create, procure, produce and support other programs. Example: You have typed in information to the computer and generated a document you now want to print out. The program you are using to type data into is a different program than the one that will control the printer once you give it the command to print it out. This would be why you can’t just plug any printer into the back of the computer and expect it to work. You must make sure that the computer has the appropriate program (sometimes called software) installed in it to operate the specific printer you are using. This rule generally applies to all equipment that could be attached to your main computer components.      

        Other equipment sometimes called hardware, you might find in or around the computer would be a scanner. This is a device used to transplant other fields of information or data into the computer (typically used for photographs, other documents or artwork.) Fax machines or other devices called multi function units may be connected to the computer. There are some of these units that will fax documents, print copies of the documents and act as a scanner for the computer all in one unit. Digital cameras and digital camcorders are also popularly used with computers to process real life images into useful productions of media. 

       Often times when other computers interact together they do so through a vast series of networks called the internet. It commonly uses the phone lines as its highway of conveyance. This vast interconnection of computers all around the world is sometimes referred to as the world wide web (www). Each computer goes through a large system called a host or internet service provider (isp) which will navigate it to the desired web site or information it is requesting.

        Web sites are various locations on the world wide web which are actually owned and maintained by individuals, groups, governmental agencies or businesses. The identify them and help someone communicate with them or be aware of their business offerings. Many web sites contain several web pages on the site to display the various aspects of their business or operation. Web sites that are similar in interest or purpose may often be connected together through the means of an “electronic handshake” called a link. Sometimes a link will be transmitted through an e-mail communication. This is simply when someone types in the literal web site address so that the receiver can see how to locate that specific site on the world wide web.    It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions on operating the computer, it’s components and the various programs which make it function. All equipment and all software come with instruction manuals. They will help you use the equipment (hardware) and the programs (software) to their fullest capability.


Being Christ Like

            Being polite and courteous in the spirit of Christian living should be the standard of communication and actions between the church administrator and all church personnel that he or she will be in contact with on the job. Even though the job of the church administrator will tend to be more in the realm of the tangible and physical aspects, it is still important to exemplify Jesus Christ in all that you do.

          1 Corinthians 10:31-33 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God--even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (NIV) These is the thematic scripture for the effective church administrator. The results of the work of the effective church administrator are indeed for the “good of many”. The church administrator is a representation for not only the local church by which he or she is employed or serving in, but also for Jesus Christ and all of the Kingdom of God.


Recommended Reading

           It is strongly encouraged for the developing church administrator to read the following books. Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration by James D. Berkley Baker Book CTI @ 1994. The Effective Pastor by Robert C. Anderson Moody Press @ 1985.


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