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Is business training for church staff necessary?
by Ferdinand Burger
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Is training for church staff necessary?
When a secular business appoints someone in a position, it is expected that the person already has a set of skills, has gained some experience in the field or similar work environment, and that the new employee will add to the overall value of the organization. Should the leadership of a church expect the same from potential employees?
In a church, the selection process is not just limited to these aspects, but may also include the person’s belief system, values and spiritual gifts. These qualities are difficult to measure or put a value to, as they are based on a different niveau, so to speak. Sometimes a person is appointed, because the leadership already knows and values these spiritual qualities in the person, without taking the business skills or knowledge into consideration.
In the normal business world, a person is encouraged to deliver the best quality of work, attend courses and to grow in their position. This can then lead to transfers to other departments, taking on more responsibilities or even promotion. Secular businesses have budgets for training, development programs and assistance in increasing the knowledge of the employee. In a constantly changing world, employees are almost expected to continue their training and personal development.
The question in The Church is: Does a church, as a place of employment, offer the same challenges and opportunities to the “employees”? Or better still, should a church offer these at all?
We see in the Bible that Jesus spent a fair amount of time educating and training his disciples. This training focussed on matters of spiritual nature. Aspects like management, human resource planning and other business principles did not feature at all. Jesus, did however, spent time on finances, but only because so many questions came from those trying to trap him into saying something negative against the Roman Authorities. This brings up the question whether or not business practices are necessary. Through his stories Jesus explained some basic issues to his followers, but these could also be applied to the personal lives of people, and not specifically to management in churches. Remember though, during Jesus’ time on earth “The Church” as such did not exist. It had no buildings, no personnel, and no structure, and so it is quite difficult to take Jesus’ teachings and apply these to management in churches today. His teaching do however, form a sound basis for management and leadership in churches today.
Only much later during the Apostles’ efforts to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, did some type of structure take form, and this was based on the teachings of Jesus. Paul gave some interesting ideas and guidelines in establishing leadership teams, appointing deacons and elders, but nowhere was anything mentioned about how to establish a proper structure to accommodate the growing number of converts. The New Testament Church focussed on spreading the Gospel, kept training workers to win more souls and to take care of the basic needs of these people.
Looking at church activities today, we see that management in churches has become a greater component in the equation to take better care of the souls entrusted to The Church. The evangelical aspect has become less visible in some churches, and in some, this important task does not even feature. Other churches still make the spreading of the Gospel their main focus point, and have excellent management skills. Growth needs management, and this type of management should not only rely on the spiritual abilities of employees. The Church has grown through the ages, and has adapted its strategy to stay operational. If churches could function properly throughout difficult times, wars, persecution and political changes, is it really necessary to equip management, leadership and personnel of churches to have certain business skills? It is a well-known fact that people tend to seek God more often and with greater desperation in the face of crises, persecution and personal dilemmas – we were made that way. Only Jesus has the answer to our problems, times of difficulties and trials and tribulations. This is where the calling of The Church comes into the picture. The Church should be able to offer support, answers and solutions to people in need, as well as spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. When these people then decide to join a specific church, leadership and personnel should then know what to do with these souls. For this, churches need a structure, trained personnel and a mechanism of ensuring the spiritual needs of its members are taken care of.
What about the workers/personnel though? Should they be happy with their spiritual gifts only, or should they be encouraged to develop their business skills as well? The Church is not a business, but “management” is not just a business word. How much knowledge is necessary to work in a church, and how much more can training in management skills, software applications, presentations, telephone etiquette, etc. help church staff to operate more effectively?
The fact of the matter is that The Church is an entity, a living organization in a secular world, and operates in a world governed by secular business practices. This means that workers/employees in a church should have the expertise and knowledge of this environment to ensure the functioning of the organization. Like people adjusting themselves in a new environment, The Church has had to adjust itself to the business environment and as such it is essential to be up to date with practices and business tools. To manage the organization in a church, a structure with all the integral components is necessary. It is furthermore necessary that in addition to the spiritual component in The Church’s, management and leadership can and should be an example to secular businesses.
Training in administration, finance, leadership and management, human resources and IT-solutions should be implemented in churches to suit their specific needs. The value added to a church is of enormous importance and this should be done on all levels in the church. All employees should be encouraged to advance their knowledge and skills, making an effort to put back into the church what they gain(ed) in work experience, skills and expertise. This will not only motivate the employees to do their jobs better, but will also add value to their personal achievement.

In my book,
Church Management Basics
, I take a look at training of church personnel,
personal development, and implementing a structure flexible for growth in

For further information please visit
, or contact me via

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