Preparation for Church Administration

Paying attention to the area or organization as part of evangelism and ministry.

R.E. Whitey, Bible Teacher, Indiana Academy, Indiana

By taking the internship program out­lined in the General Conference Work­ing Policy, pages 145,146, as a norm, one can quickly see that in the main the training provided during internship is evangelistic endeavor and pastoral care—with little at­tention given to developing teaching abil­ity and promotion acumen. Assuming that this program is followed for every intern, we can ask the question, Does this outline of intern training provide for all the aspects of ministerial work, in particular, church administrative duties?

It is true, the main emphasis in train­ing should be on soul winning and caring for them after they are won. But both of these endeavors are carried on through an organized body of believers. And where there is an organization there must be ad­ministration. Is this area of ministerial work receiving sufficient attention on the intern level, i.e., during the period of practical application of learned theory?

To begin with, it should be the goal of every pastor and pastor-evangelist to do personally as little administrative work as possible. This is in accord with the em­phasis of the apostles. Acts 6 records the reorganization of the early Christian church to provide for such responsibilities to be handled by what was termed the "deacon." This made it possible for the apostles to give their time and energy to the spiritual ministry among members and prospective members. (See "Adventist Con­cepts of Church Management," The Minis­try, October and November, 1952.)

Even though the pastor has his church leaders organized to do the administrative work, he nevertheless must know the what and how of administration, for he must give guidance and counsel in order to keep things running smoothly.

Very few men are born administrators. If a minister is to have the background and experience that will make it possible for him adequately to guide and counsel his church officers, he must be taught the content, method, application, and prob­lems of administration. This begins in the college course teaching pastoral duties; it is fortified with a possible six hours of work in this area at the Seminary. Unfortu­nately, these six hours of course work sel­dom find their way into the actual program of the ministerial student in the fifth year of ministerial training.

The internship provides the opportunity for the prospective minister to learn the practice of church administration. Espe­cially when the classwork is inadequate or nonexistent, this period of training may be the only opportunity for him to learn prior to being given the responsibility of pastor­ing a church or district.

In order to determine the effectiveness of the internship as it is conducted in North America to make the new minister quali­fied in administration, I conducted in­formal interviews with the students at the Seminary, in 1962-1963, who had served an internship. Their responses were most informative. These men had interned in places all the way from eastern Canada to California during the years from 1945 to 1962. The factor appearing most often in these interviews was that in the main these men had been left to learn the what and the how of correct church administration by trial-and-error method. Without excep­tion they felt the need for training in this field to enable them, first of all, to avoid the mistakes they had made, and second, to en­sure that their spiritual ministry would not be eclipsed by administrative duties that could not be avoided.

With these things in mind, here are sev­eral suggestions for the internship, so that the young man emerging from internship to full ministerial duties can be better pre­pared and trained in the field of church administration:

  1. The plan for intern training outlined in the Working Policy should be followed, with its suggestion of administrative train­ing under the section entitled "Promo­tional" (p. 146).
  2. In addition, provision should be made for the intern to spend a brief period under the direction of the pastor of a church with model organization. This is the church where the officers are carrying the load of administrative duties, the pastor serving in an advisory capacity. Here the intern will learn by precept and example from the model church with its model pastor.
  3. If the conference does not have a church thus organized, it should see that it has at least one, so the interns trained in that conference will have a balanced train­ing period.
  4. The conference should train experi­enced pastors to instruct interns. A pastor may have a model organization in his church yet not know how to teach this to the intern. Planned periods of instruction and discussion are necessary.
  5. The intern also can obtain practical experience by being assigned actual work in administration during this time. (See Gospel Workers, pp. 198, 101, 102.) In this way he will know how by having done. To illustrate, he can serve on committees, or­ganize Ingathering campaigns, et cetera. This should be done only in combination with the other suggestions outlined here.
  6. The intern should receive specific in­struction by the conference administrators. This instruction would be what the confer­ence expects of the church in relation to the conference program as a whole.

These suggestions are not necessarily ex­haustive, and must be adapted to local situ­ations, but if followed in a balanced way, they will help make the prospective min­ister better prepared to assume pastoral and administrative duties.

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R.E. Whitey, Bible Teacher, Indiana Academy, Indiana

November 1964

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