Church management/Bad Practices in Church Management

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A church is a holy place. It is a good place. Nonetheless, leaders can be tempted to fall prey to numerous negative practices. These very often lead to the downfall of many great leaders. It is recommended that you study this module so carefully. Perhaps it should ring in your mind at every second of the day in your actions and inactions.

We will consider 3 main points:

  • Financial Matters
  • Abuse of Power
  • Bad Personal Disposition

Financial Matters

Finances are what practically moves the development of churches “earthwise”. Every church needs to accumulate enough to grow and develop itself.

Financial Matters however are a great bane on a lot of church leaders. The church leader is often also in-charge of manning the church finances, spending, taking financial decisions alone and accounting for them. These provide a lot of avenue for misconceptions and the practical treat of temptations. The church, whether it was set up by you alone or not is not a personal entity. Even if every body agrees that it “belongs” to you alone, you are not the jack of all trades. You can’t be an expert in finances always.

The following actions are recommended for your church:

  • Get somebody or a group specifically in charge of funds. This includes fund-raising, investments or financial management, controls and accounting for them.
  • Pay all church staff and ministers on a structured, agreed-upon and transparent system
  • Maintain petty cash systems for everyday church running
  • The finance team must prepare financial statements, get them audited and read to members at least once a year. Even if members don’t want to hear the accounts being read, read them!
  • Churches should be social enterprises, raising funds through other sources apart from offertories and tithes. Depending too much on the traditional sources of funds may put too much of a stress on members. Be innovative is setting up church-based social enterprises, but not too aggressive to become "money-centered"
  • Get financial experts to help if need be.

Abusing Power to Get Your Way

Leaders can’t accomplish much without power, and organizations can’t accomplish much without powerful leaders. Like any other tool, power can be used for constructive purposes or destructive — it all hinges on the leader’s character. The following must be guarded against:

  • Agenda control.
  • Committee desk-stacking.
  • Hatching or devising change in isolation.
  • PR and “spin.”
  • Telling people simply what they want to hear

Bad Personal Disposition

How do you present yourself to your congregation and the outside world? Presenting yourself in the accurate light physically and mentally (attitudinally) will go a long in making your task as a leader and church manager successful.

your physical environment can speak volumes about the "soundness" of your church - negatively or positively

Physically, a leader has to be very cautious about the appearance and how he or she keeps the body. You have to be healthy in health and in looks. Bad Dressing has made a lot of church leaders repulsive. You are not to “over-dress”, but look presentable. For example, black belts should go with black shoes and black bags. These are social laws that should not be broken. These are not to be fixated on, idolised, or taken to the extremes. However, whether we appreciate it or dislike it, your dressing, haircut, finger and toe nails, and your general appearance speak a lot to your congregation, and about your congregation to the whole world. Check it!

Physical appearance will not only be limited to your person as the leaders of the church or ministry. How organised or not your office, house, car, etc, is can have an immense impact on your own delivery as well as the growth of your members. What will a first time visitor to your church think about the decor in the chapel or the (mis)arrangements in your office?

As a leader, are  you emotionally intelligent?

Mentally or attitudinally you have to carve a certain description for yourself. What is your emotional state? Do you get easily offended and abusive? Do you have the utmost control of your emotions - do you exude emotional intelligence? Do you easily mingle with your congregation, or perhaps you mingle too much with them. Your relationship with your congregation and the outside world can be analysed by the following paragraphs.

"Some leaders are unusually good chess players because they can move the bishops, knights, rooks, pawns, and kings and queens around the board at will."

Remember: No relationships are needed with inert chess pieces. Unfortunately, leading flesh-and-blood animate people is not quite so simple.

"Relationship-building is the very heart and soul of Christian leadership. People don’t like to be treated as abstractions devoid of personalities, feelings, and uniqueness."

As headstrong Captain Kirk of Star Trek was fond of reminding the rationalistic Vulcan, Mr. Spock:

"People are messy and emotional. They’re hard to understand and control!"

High-relationship and low-relationship leaders are as different as humans and Vulcans:

The Low-Relationship Leader: The Relational Leader:
Prefers working alone Enjoys working with others on teams
Is uncomfortable in spontaneous social settings Is stimulated by socializing
Lacks insight into the subtleties of human behaviour Is perceptive about what makes people “tick”
Makes decisions analytically with facts and figures Factors feelings and political realities into decision-making
Is perfectionistic and perceives reality in “black and white” terms Takes a flexible, creative approach to managing
Dislikes “wasting time” with small talk and fellowship Is patient and friendly with others
Displays a “cool,” detached demeanor Conveys warmth and empathy
Avoids conflict, hoping it will just go away Strives to resolve conflict in order to maintain healthy relationships
Believes motivating and inspiring people is unnecessary Encourages and equips others

Low-relationship people can make a number of contributions in Christian organizations, but leadership is seldom their strong suit. Since interacting with others tends to “drain their battery,” they are much better suited to perform valuable technical assignments (such as financial management, computer projects, writing, and problem-solving), where their self-motivated, hard-working, non-political temperament can pay big dividends. Christian organizations shouldn’t expect their low-relationship members to carry a heavy leadership load.

Ten Ways Christian Leaders Get Neutralized

Every church and Christian organization has members who, intentionally or not, sure seem to know how to take the wind out of a leader’s sails. Even the best-equipped, most enthusiastic leader can get “neutralized”. Know about the following types of “troublesome” members and prepare to manage them effectively:

Member #1: Tells the leader what he or she hopes to hear, but feeble follow-up efforts assure that next-to-nothing is ever accomplished.
Member #2: Fails to show up for important meetings and consequently spends a lot of time wondering around confused.
Member #3: Follows through on some assignments, but not on others, delivering just enough to eternally frustrate leaders.
Member #4: Is stuck in a rut, afraid to be challenged with new responsibilities or duties.
Member #5: Has to be micromanaged if anything is to be accomplished. To “benefit” from this member’s “help,” the beleaguered leader must schedule a one-on-one meeting, round up the requisite supplies and equipment, answer umpteen questions, and pep talk the reluctant volunteer!
Member #6: Is the proverbial bull in a china shop when it comes to working with other people—domineering, impatient, thin-skinned, uncommunicative, and grouchy. No wonder church leaders wish he could be put in charge of mowing the church lawn all by himself!
Member #7: Wants to be a leader but makes a better follower. Put in charge of a project, this member quickly “muddies the water” with poor organization, opaque communication, indecisive decision-making, and wasted time. Then when a new project surfaces, the member is first in line to take charge.
Member #8: Volunteers to do an important project but manages to turn it into a different project that nobody asked for. The youth group asked our intrepid member to come up with a new fundraiser project, but she somehow got sidetracked and obligated the disconcerted teens to spend all day Saturday cleaning cages at the local animal center.
Member #9: Lacks discernment in separating the spiritual from the secular. He prays with the junior high group but rudely yells at them ten minutes later for rowdiness; he tells a borderline off color joke at the Sunday school opening assembly; and the last check he dropped in the offering plate bounced. Now what duty should the pastor dare to saddle him with?
Member #10: Bogs down meetings by monopolizing the discussion and derailing attempts at consensus. One committee chair comments, “Every time we’re driving to score a touchdown on an important decision, Bob manages to fumble the football.”

Module Summary

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For perhaps the first time in this manual, "we shouldn't summaries this module"!! Just read this module all over again - PLEASE!!