We seem to be in a time when “administration” is a bad word. I hear too many pastors and laity who speak of “administration” as if it is a necessary evil at best, or at worst as if it gets in the way of “real ministry.”
The Ministry of Administration
The truth is that “administration” — when rightly understood — is actual ministry. It also provides the means, tools, resources, and planning to make ministry more effective. Our ordained Elders should know this, in particular, because part of our vows for ordination include the promise to “order” the life of the church. The Apostle Paul lists “administration” is one of the roles that God has placed within the Body of Christ to enhance ministry (I Corinthians 12:28). And it is simply common sense that “administer” means “to or toward ministry.”
Certainly anyone can turn “administration” into boring meetings, shuffling paperwork, and tedious details. But a healthy sense of “administration” sees it as preparation and support for ministry. In one of my early appointments as a very young pastor, I was blessed with Bill Myers as my church secretary. Bill was a retired businessman who loved the church so he applied to be the church secretary where he used his administrative skills to organize our church and to enhance my ministry. Bill often said to me, “Pastor, your job is to pray, preach, and lead us – so let me help you with the details to do that.” Bill kept me organized, and he kept the whole church organized SO THAT our ministry was more effective. “Administration” must always have a SO THAT – a purpose, a goal, and a reason that makes it more than just busy work. Administration is SO THAT our whole ministry is more effective.
Having served on the Board of GCFA (the General Council of Finance and Administration) these past eight years has reminded me of the importance of administration. Yes, the staff at GCFA handles the finances of our United Methodist church, but the staff also provides the administration, service, resources, organization, and details to enhance the ministry of our UMC. I have found that the staff of GCFA really sees themselves in ministry – the ministry of administration – and they understand the SO THAT of their work.
Maybe we all need more of that sense of SO THAT in our administrative and organizational efforts. Every local church meeting should include some discussion of why we have those meetings, making sure to articulate the SO THAT of our efforts to organize our ministry.
“Administration” is not a bad word. It is not just a necessary evil. It is a ministry of service and support SO THAT the whole church can be more effective. I am grateful for all of those who administer and who have taught me to value the ministry of administration.
Bishop Michael J. Coyner
President of the Board of Directors of GCFA