Church in the Land of Commerce: 2. Management/Administration: Introduction

In the world of commerce, the seminal work of Frederick Winslow Taylor The Principles of Scientific Management is considered to have influenced almost all subsequent thinking on management.[1]According to him “The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.”[2]After bemoaning the fact that early 20thcentury American industry was suffering from defective systems of management and thus rampant inefficiency he says that the new managers will have to accomplish four things

First. They develop a science for each element of a man’s work, which replaces the old rule-of-thumb method.

Second. They scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could.

Third. They heartily cooperate with the men so as to insure all of the work being done in accordance with the principles of the science which has been developed.

Fourth. There is an almost equal division of the work and the responsibility between the management and the workmen. The management take over all work for which they are better fitted than the workmen, while in the past almost all of the work and the greater part of the responsibility were thrown upon the men.[3]

Thus conceived, “all of the planning which under the old system was done by the workman, as a result of his personal experience, must of necessity under the new system be done by the management in accordance with the laws of the science…”This planning will include a series of related activities: defining mission and strategy, coordinating efforts to accomplish those goals, by of marshaling available resources, such as financial, natural, technological, and human resources.

In the context of the Church management we should probably avoid the term “management”as it places an emphasis on human agency apart from the work of God. I have considered using the word “stewardship”to express this synergy created by the faithful overseeing the use of God’s gifts to the Church. But not everything we do in the Church is a matter of simple oversight. Certain aspects of the life of the Church have to be managed or planned, in order to function in and orderly and effective manner. For that reason, the term administration might be a good alternative allowing us to recognize that we share some of our needs/tasks with other organizations and yet to separate ourselves from the primarily mercenary implications of the term“manage.”We do not, for example, manage a Divine Liturgy, but we do preside over it. We do not strategically plan our Liturgical cycle, but we do organize it according to the rubrics given. We do not engage in “Customer Relationship Management”[4]in order to drive up loyalty, but we do teach about the nature and importance of commitment.  We do not evaluate our work using “Benchmarking”[5]or “Balance Scorecard”[6]techniques, but we do measure ourselves in the light of divine commandments.  That said, we have to admit, as I have done above, that there is some, at least superficial, overlap or correspondence between some activities in the Church and the wider world. Some of what we do in the Church has to be planned, organized, managed. So, we can probably make good use of the tools developed in the world of profit and I think that is being done in two ways. On the one hand, we acquire these tools, learn how to use them, and apply them within the Church. On the other hand, we often delegate, that is, we “farm out”the work to experts outside of the Church, who use their devices to do what we are unable or unwilling to do. In the next four posts I will be dealing with the 1) ecclesial use of Strategic Planning, and the ways in which we make use of Professional Advice for help with 2) financial matters, 3) legal issues, and 4) record keeping.


[1]Note the similarities in the recent Kenneth H. Blanchard and Dan Woren, The New One Minute Manager, (New York: HarperAudio,, 2015),

Excerpt Sample

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[2]Frederick Winslow Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management(New York, London,: Harper & Brothers, 1911), Locations 48-49.

[3]Ibid., Locations 359-66.

[4]“Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a process companies use to understand their customer groups and respond quickly—and at times, instantly—to shifting customer desires. CRM technology allows firms to collect and manage large amounts of customer data and then carry out strategies based on that in- formation.” Darrell K Rigby, Management Tools 2015. An Executive’s Guide, (Boston Bain & Company, Inc, 2015), BAIN_GUIDE_Management_Tools_2015_executives_guide.pdf. 26.

[5]“Benchmarking improves performance by identifying and applying best demonstrated practices to operations and sales. Man- agers compare the performance of their products or processes externally with those of competitors and best-in-class companies, and internally with other operations that perform similar activities in their own firms.” Ibid., 14.

[6]“A Balanced Scorecard defines an organization’s performance and measures whether management is achieving desired results. The Balanced Scorecard translates Mission and Vision Statements into a comprehensive set of objectives and performance measures that can be quantified and appraised.” Ibid., 12.

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