By Kristin Gonzalez
In middle school, I learned a valuable lesson about administration and leadership. I had a science teacher who engaged us in hands-on science projects and experiments. Within her classroom, I learned about the scientific method, photosynthesis, and leadership. I vividly remember her telling me she was placing two boys in a group with me for a hot air balloon project. She also informed me that I was the group leader.
We were to create a hot air balloon out of tissue paper that would soar to the heights of the gym ceiling. I was very excited about another great project until one boy was absent for three days and the other boy decided he did not want to build the hot air balloon and stomped through our creation with his cowboy boots, leaving a trail of tissue paper, as he ripped holes in our nearly finished product. I was out of time and material to make proper repairs, so I did my best to patch holes with clear tape for our flight the next day.
Much to my dismay, when it was our turn to fill our hot air balloon with air, it did not even lift off the ground, and we received a grade that reflected its inability to soar. Frustrated and tearful, I stayed after class to explain to my science teacher that I had done most of the work while the other two were either absent or destructive.
THE TOOLS AND KNOWLEDGE TO GUIDE OTHERS
I can still see the expression on her face as she explained to me that I was the leader and that I succeeded or failed with them. As an eleven-year-old, I had not been prepared to lead this group; I did not have the tools or knowledge to adequately guide my fellow students to complete the project with success.
Years later, as a young adult serving in a Christian campus ministry, I completed a Bible study that outlined the characteristics of a good leader and explained that strong administration within church ministries was necessary for the overall success of the church. Through this study, I learned that multi-level administration within a church determines how successful a church will be at pleasing God and doing His will.
PURPOSE OF ADMINISTRATION IN CHURCH MINISTRIES
Church administration does not solely consist of the pastor or the board. Effective administration means planned ministries that contribute to the unity of the church. A church that wants to grow spiritually and provide outreach must have administrators in all ministries, committees, and groups. It is the pastor or lay leader’s responsibility to identify those who have the spiritual gift of administration and to further equip them to serve in their ministry.
Distributing the workload of the ministries relieves the pastor or lay leader from trying to do it all on their own. Jethro warned Moses, “Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself” (Exodus 18:18). Weary administrators cannot effectively lead.
ORGANIZATION AND DELEGATION
When a pastor places a good administrator as the leader of a ministry group like the women’s group, youth group, or children’s ministry, he is placing the responsibility of that group into the hands of someone who is spiritually gifted to lead that ministry.
The leader of the ministry group must likewise identify the spiritual gifts of the members of the group and delegate responsibilities. A leader who delegates well avoids unnecessary confusion and duplication of roles. As each person fills a specific role, the ministry can contribute positively to the effectiveness of the church.
CHAOS VS. CLEAR COMMUNICATION
Good administrators eliminate chaos through clear communication. They outline ideas and plans and check in with individuals throughout a project. They are able to redirect off-topic discussions during meetings and refocus individuals to the task. Administrators have the responsibility to speak truth and love to the members of the ministry group in order to encourage Christ-like maturity that will enable the ministry to glorify God.
PLAN B AND A BAG OF TRICKS
When I was learning classroom management and leadership, my instructor told us we had to have a bag of tricks that was ready to use at a moment’s notice. She explained that there will be days when technology will fail, when a principal will pop-in for an unannounced visit, when you will fail to reach the majority of the class with a lesson, or when the remaining time allotment of class will be too short or too long for what it is planned. This was the best advice I received during my teacher training.
As a teacher, I had a handful of go-to activities that could be employed easily to reteach a lesson, fill extra time, or to entertain in an educational manner. I learned that choosing Plan B was fine, and often more effective than the originally planned activity, when I selected from a prepared bag of tricks.
In ministry work, an administrator should have a “bag of tricks” for when things do not go as planned. A youth group leader may need a handful of go-to activities. A children’s ministry leader may need to have extra songs or crafts ready. A VBS director may need to have a few extra adults ready to fill positions if someone does not show up.
A well-rounded administrator is flexible and ready to work in a variety of situations. They foresee possible problems and have a Plan B. Having to use a Plan B does not mean an administrator has failed. Rather, it shows that they understand that things can and will change.
FAIL OR SUCCEED
In science class, I inadvertently learned that a leader succeeds or fails with its group. When a church ministry is not successful due to poor administration, the entire church suffers. Disgruntled members of ministry groups can cause conflict on various levels. Effective administration in each ministry of the church means that the church’s ministries are working together for the edification of the church body (Proverbs 27:17). When every ministry is reaching and serving its intended audience, the church can better fulfill the Great Commission.