Some think it to be of little value. Others see it as simply a necessary evil. Many dread just the mention of it. But if you are in local church ministry, you can’t escape it. It’s church administration.

I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I thought I might be able to give some encouragement in an area that if approached rightly, can truly be a blessing. So, from time to time we hope to chop it up on how churches might improve upon what Collin Marshall and Tony Payne in their book have called the “trellis work” of ministry. The trellis is what the vine grows on, and if not tended to, may prohibit the vine from growing to its maximum potential. We will talk about this in later posts, but essentially trellis work is what helps us to be good stewards of the vine (people) that God is growing within our churches. We all want to be good stewards, don’t we? We certainly don’t want to take what God has given us and bury it until he returns. Giving attention to church administration helps us invest, and cultivate the hearts that God has entrusted to us.

So you’ve bought in, but where do you go from here? Well, one of the first steps is coming to the conclusion that not everyone is gifted in the area of administration. You don’t just want to assign anyone to this task. If you are going to improve your trellis ministry, it is crucial that you have someone on staff or a layperson with administrative gifts. The truth is, we all default to our strengths. If no one in your church is defaulting to administration, then it’s always going to get moved to the back burner.

How then do you go about identifying the right person?

Great question. Here are a few suggestions that I pray would be beneficial.

Pray for God to Provide

Too often prayer is the last thing we do when it comes to filling positions in the church. But it should be the first. If there are not enough laborers, God does not say place an ad in the bulletin to find the right person; he says pray to the Lord of the harvest (Matthew 9:38). If your church is in need of administrative help, ask God to meet that need. In your praying, God may open your eyes to someone in your midst who you didn’t know had the gift of administration. Or the very person you are looking for may be in your next new member’s class. However he works it, trust Him to provide.

Look for someone who loves God

Administrators tend to love strategy, processes, org charts and agendas, but those things should never be placed above a love for God. God should be his or her fist love. In fact, the love of God should be their motivation for wanting to build and grow the trellis.

Look for someone who loves the Church

If a person loves God, you hope they would love the church as well. Administrators need to love the church and be willing to sacrifice and do all to see her grow and flourish. If they don’t love the church, it is going to be difficult for them to push through the minutia and thankless work and frustration that is often part of administrative ministry.

Look for Someone Faithful

Faithfulness cannot be emphasized enough. You want someone who can be counted on and trusted. There will be sensitive information, deadlines, and a myriad of decisions that will require faithfulness to the scriptures and the vision of the church. Look for someone who is showing up when they said they would show up and doing what they said they would do. You will value this more than you know.

Look for Someone Teachable

In order to be a good administrator, you need to be able to learn from others. You will not be effective if you think you know it all. There are a ton of experts and resources that have been made available to the church. The individual needs to be willing to take and receive criticism and be willing to change if necessary. Only teachable individuals will be able to do that.

Look for a Servant

Last but not least, he or she must be a servant. Really, that is what we all are. If you are in ministry, you have been called to a life of service. You want an administrator who is not concerned with titles or recognition. You want them to be concerned with people and the glory of God.

Hopefully these suggestions have set you on your way. But I trust you noticed that I mentioned nothing about skill sets. That was purposeful. I hope to dedicate my next post to skills to look for in administrators. But it is important that we start by looking for the qualities above. We are after all talking about administrators for the church. Could we pluck someone from the business world and make them our administrator? Sure. Might they do a good job and get us on the right path, helping us cross our t’s and dot our i’s? Certainly possible. But, the church is the body of Christ. First and foremost our administrators ought to be followers of him both in word and in deed.

Next time we will highlight some skill sets to look for.

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The Front Porch

Conversations about biblical
faithfulness in African-American
churches and beyond