I remember thinking that being a pastor involved preaching and caring for people—period. I was convinced that if I became a scholar of the Bible, I would know everything there is to know about being in ministry. After working through building projects and insurance claims, promoting events and dealing with local zoning regulations, setting meeting agendas and preparing church budgets, I began to realize that there was a lot more to ministry than praying a lot and knowing your Bible.
Perhaps you have noticed that leading your Sunday School class or heading up a ministry requires skills other than studying and praying. You must organize people to do any kind of ministry or outreach as a class. It takes some administrative abilities to plan a trip to a nursing home or organize a class fellowship. You have to figure out how to enlist people for ministry, keep up with birthdays, keep accurate records for attendance, etc. You need to develop some administrative skills to do get the job done!
If you are like me, administration and organization is not an area of strength. There is a spiritual gift of administration, sometimes translated organization or leading (Romans 12:8). God did not give me that spiritual gift! It doesn't come easily for me. Certainly, it is wise to have someone with that spiritual giftedness to serve along side you, but it is clear, that if I am called upon to lead a class or ministry, I need to learn how to be organized and prepared to lead the people God has given me to serve. So how does a non-organizer learn to organize? Here are a few thoughts.
Use a planning calendar. I prefer to use a notebook style planner. It never crashes like a computerized planner can. It may be bulky by today’s standards, but my information is always there in the notebook. It helps me to take control of my schedule—at least in part. It keeps me from forgetting something I must do next month, and it helps me not to make the same mistake next year. I find that great ideas do no one any good unless they are funded, and they get on the calendar. Otherwise, they become lofty daydreams that never impact anyone’s life.
Use a “to do list.” I divide my weekly "to do list" into three sections. I have a column for things related to teaching and preaching, a column for caring ministry such as outreach and ministry to individuals under my care and a column for administration items. I put each task into a time slot for each work day. Some weeks it works like a dream and other times the unexpected messes it all up, but I will accomplish much more if a start my week off with such a list. It also helps to organize your list by priorities and do the most important tasks first.
Delegate. I know I am not the greatest at delegating. It is difficult to know when a person can be trusted to follow through with an assignment or do it with excellence, and sometimes it just seems easier to do it yourself. That attitude, however, robs people of the joy of serving and never challenges them to grow. When I’m organizing an event, I make a list of tasks that need to be done. We may need flyers printed, or materials sorted, or food purchased. I then try to match the right person to the right task and make the contact to ask for their help. If I don’t enlist people ahead of time and explain their assignment, I frustrate them and give them a bad experience in ministry. They may not want to serve next time, because of my poor leadership and organization. My job is to help them have success with the task and hopefully have an enjoyable experience, in the process.
Good leadership requires administration and I’m sure I should have a few more details for this article, but my lack of organizational skills requires me to stop here. Ugh!