Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Value of Administration and the Value of Go

Administration is important and necessary--even in ministry. For those who have gifts of administration, I am thankful.

2014 was a challenging vocational year for me. As I look back, it was a heavy administration kind of year. My congregation changed its governance structure, formed a new board, a new finance team, and new budgeting process. I've never bristled at these tasks like some of my colleagues--this infrastructure work provides an opportunity to get clear about collective values and priorities. Then again, I can't say I get any special fulfillment out of these tasks, either. What I miss when I get heavily involved in these tasks is that I lose some of my creative outlets in ministry. Sure, administration has opportunities for creativity, but I'm not feeling it.

Today I'm sitting in a local bagel shop, inviting the community to join me for a bagel and coffee. I'm using social media to get the invitation out, and I've had a few colleagues sneeze out the information on their networks. I'm working with photographs, connecting and reconnecting with neighbors (yes, there are pastoral care possibilities here), and pondering outreach methods. At the very least, I've been a chaplain or a listening ear for a few people. But I'm glad to be back out and about building relationships in the neighborhood.

This is a common struggle with pastors. Each congregation has inward demands that can isolate both a congregation and its pastoral leadership. The church becomes an organization where "membership has its privileges." A congregation often says it wants to improve its lot. Grow. Maybe even change. Until a congregation can free leaders and the congregation to be good neighbors to the wider community (out in the community, not merely waiting for the community to come through the door), administration will become a black hole for the congregation.

However, administration is value neutral. Administration is not inherently good, or evil. It all depends on how you use it. My congregation has not become embroiled in administration, but 2014 served as a cautionary tale to me. Do not get lost in administration, but use it to bolster the values of God's call to the congregation. That value is...go.

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