One of the most limited resources in a church is a pastor’s time. Yet, because of a variety of trends outside of the pastor’s control, pastoring a congregation has arguably never been more complicated.
While most pastors are very comfortable with their roles as counselors and teachers, it is in administration where they tend to be least prepared. Administration is a vital part of their ministry. However, by carefully choosing staff to help with the daily administration of the congregation, the pastor might have more time to exercise his ministerial duties, such as pastoral counseling.
“During ‘Making All Things New,’ our pastoral planning process, one thing we heard over and over — from both priests and parishioners — was the need to help support our pastors in managing our parishes by developing stronger business practices,” said His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York in a recent press conference.
Last year, the Archdiocese of New York entered a partnership with Villanova University’s Center for Church Management & Business Ethics to provide a Master of Science in Church Management (MSCM) degree to church business administrators. Cardinal Dolan hopes the program will help educate lay people to take on more of a leadership role in the church. He says this will allow the priests in the diocese to continue their role as pastoral counselors, and not “be into replacing boilers and leaky roofs.”
A little help, helps a lot
A 2010 study of Catholic parishes sponsored by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) surveyed 390 Catholic parishes, asking a variety of questions about church life. Various staffing options were explored, including options where the pastor was left to the do the full administrative work of the church. Also explored were options where a full-time administrator was employed.
The study found that pastors who were assisted by a full-time congregation administrator devoted significantly more time in ministry activities and in leadership, while spending an insignificant amount of time performing management activities. In fact, the impact of a full-time administrator on the pastor’s ability to spend more time on ministerial activities had the greatest impact of any of the staffing options analyzed.
Villanova’s MSCM program aims to educate just such administrators, who are able to take some of the temporal burden away from the pastor, while freeing pastors to spend more time in their ministerial and leadership duties. Students in the MSCM program receive an education that is both practical in administration and grounded in faith and the life of the church.
If you are interested in learning more, please visit the Villanova School of Business website.
This article is provided by the Center for Church Management & Business Ethics at the Villanova School of Business in Villanova, PA.