by Loren Gjesdal

Few words inspire yawns faster than “administration.” Immediately, images of forms to be filled out and bureaucratic hurdles to be leaped come to mind. Yet we all agree with the Biblical principles of good stewardship and accountability. So, let’s consider for a moment how Church Administration helps us be good, accountable stewards.

First, a definition. A steward is someone who has been entrusted to oversee another’s resources. Good stewardship then is the productive use of those resources in accomplishing the owner’s objectives. Two parables Jesus told will help us think about our role as stewards in His present kingdom.

Stewardship in the Parable of the Talents

The first is the familiar Parable of the Talents. You remember that Jesus described a wealthy individual as going away on a journey and leaving 5 talents, 2 talents, and 1 talent, respectively, with 3 servants. The first two servants are commended for making productive use of the master’s resources while he was away and were granted the reward of the master’s favor.

Importantly, the most productive servant received the additional use of the unproductive servant’s talent (Matthew 25:14-30).

Administration of the Landowner’s Household

The second parable is maybe less familiar, but no less important for us to consider. Jesus again describes a landowner who goes on a journey and entrusts the care of his household to his servants.  He then asks this question:

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?” (Matthew 24:45)

In other words, Jesus asks us to think as if we were the landowner. Who would we entrust with the oversight of the household upon return? The one who is found already taking care of the needs of the household in his absence is the answer.

“Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions” (Matthew 24:45-47).

Stewards of His Resources

A couple of points of application should be obvious. The Church of God is Jesus’ Body, His Household of Faith. The Church has been entrusted with a number of resources, including physical property, money, but most importantly people and their abilities, as well as the Gospel itself. Our master is physically absent, but we have the promise of His return.

So, the question we should be asking today as stewards of His resources is, “Are we making productive use of His resources until He returns?”

Accountability to Jesus

The second point of application should especially catch our attention. We are accountable to Jesus for the use of all these resources. This means that our books will be examined, our expenditures scrutinized, our activities evaluated, with this specific question in mind, “Did we use what He has entrusted to us to accomplish His objectives?”

Church Administration ideally should not be an impediment to fruitful ministry, but rather processes and safeguards that assist us to be good stewards, ready to receive Jesus’ commendation when He audits our books and ministries.

Policies and reporting requirements are designed to ensure that Jesus’ resources are used for His objectives and not for anyone’s personal gain. By ensuring compliance with state and IRS guidelines, good policies protect the reputation of Jesus’ Church while maximizing the use of His resources for ministry purposes (rather than payment to taxes, penalties, fines, etc.).

Church administration is all about stewardship and accountability. Jesus taught these principles clearly. Forms, procedures, and reporting requirements can sometimes feel like an impediment to ministry, like unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. But when designed well and implemented correctly, good church administration ensures that Jesus’ Church is using His resources for His objectives.