Monday, October 05, 2009

Thoughts on the Gift of Administration

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:27-29

Although I like to think of myself as having other spiritual gifts, it seems that I am mostly called upon by the church to exercise the gift of administration. Checking the above passage from 1 Corinithians, I suppose it is a good thing that it is listed ahead of speaking in tongues since most of us PresbyTypes don't do that.

For the last couple of months I've been immersed in revising the Policies and Procedures manual for our church. This is done every other year and assigned to the newest Senior Administrative Officer (a/k/a SAO) in the 3 year SAO chain. That would be me this year.

The old P&P was a mish-mash of styles and formats which made it hard to read and use, so we decided to create a standard format for ministry and committee descriptions. My inbox has been filled with comments from elders and staff after I emailed the new versions to everyone and asked for any additional policy documents that weren't there in the first place.

Master drafting responsibility is mine, and did I mention that as a word processor I am a great lawyer and a better singer? I confess that frustration with editing did have me speaking in tongues--just not the kind in 1 Corinthians! Fortunately the church communications staff agreed to format the manual after the text of it was in a final draft form. Whew!

Although we've joked about how the best manual would be two pages long rather than the 100+ pages this one is morphing into, I'm now convinced that it is important to have everything in one place somewhere. The fact is that if a policy or procedure is approved by the session and is only recorded in the minutes, it is likely to be forgotten within a few years when the membership of that group has turned over. What we are doing here is creating institutional memory and consistency and that is just as important for a church as for any other group.

When the master P&P is finished, we plan to create "condensed" versions that will refer the reader to the church website for links to the lengthier policy documents such as teacher and employee handbooks, accounting and financial guidelines, etc. We'll also post the P&P on the website, probably in the condensed version that will include live links. Since the church is "reformed always reforming" its policies and procedures, the challenge will be to keep it current!

Having to revise and live by this manual is difficult--but not doing that would be far more difficult because not operating under agreed upon policies and procedures invites the chaos, dissension, and misunderstanding that undermines the ministry of the church.

And that's why administration is one of the spiritual gifts.


Sally said...

I am always left in awe of those who rightly exercise the gift of administration, we need this gift to be properly recognised and carried out.

Thank you for this post, and thank you for using your gift!

Gannet Girl said...

I, too, am completely awed and humbled by the gift of administration, which I am very much convinced is far more critical to community than any of mine. And the more time I spend with churches the more apparent it becomes.

Anonymous said...

I share your gift of admin - a project like this is so fun & such a gift to the community when it's done. YAY QG!!

Gannet Girl said...

How you can tell that it's your gift: You think it's fun. How you can tell it's not: You think it's physically painful.

Quotidian Grace said...

GG--great observation.

I'm with Elasti-Girl, its kind of fun.

I put in the physically painful category--balancing a financial statement. Don't ask me to be treasurer!

jean said...

But cake-tasting is MORE fun, right?

Ruby said...

Perhaps you'd like to take a look at Louis Weeks's book about the gift of administration, All for God's Glory, which "lifts up scutwork as an integral part of pastoral care and leadership." (Weeks was president of Union-PSCE in Richmond and Charlotte.)