The First Administrator
If there is anything I have been criticized for in my approach to church it is administration. After being told enough times that you are bad at administration you start to believe it. You don’t question the understanding of administration, and what makes a good administrator, when the world seems to hold it in unison.
You read the Bible.
I know its crazy but this book is filled with answers. We could save ourselves a lot of time and frustration if we just read it!
Our understanding of administration goes a little something like this… Tasks. We believe an administrator is a task master, and so we look for some one who is task oriented. We want them to be organized, mathematical, and boring. Common sense tells us that we need someone who counts the chickens before you start serving them for dinner.
“He who wishes to fight must first count the cost” – Art of war
Or to show you the Bible does have all the answers:
“What king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.” – Luke 14:31-33
Planning is important but can’t account for miracles.
Ok..so we need to plan.
Let’s make an account, let’s do it with human eyes, and then let’s do it with spiritual ones.
First human: we are outnumbered. 60% of people do not go to church! The trend shows that number is likely to increase. We are on a mission to save people and we can’t save ourselves. We count the costs, and unless we are complete morons, we can count only on utter defeat.
Spiritual eyes: God is with us…. Winning
The only real value in accounting, is accounting our incredible need for God. That’s not how we run a church of course. We have in the last hundred years come up with many techniques that allow our reliance on God to decrease, and our appearance of success to increase. One of these methods, and maybe the primary one is changing our objective.
If we lower our objective from reaching the entire world with a loving saving message that changes hearts and minds and gives hope to the hopeless, to something attainable such as…I don’t know, how about…continuing to exist, then we have made it a war we can win (maybe). With this new goal in mind, accounting makes sense and administration is the real business of the church.
The disciples had to get stuff done too.
The disciples dealt with an unquestionably more task demanding situation than any modern church. Without today’s technological advances, without any established structure to fall back on, they had thousands who were coming to God, and often giving all they had as well (talk about an accounts worst nightmare!).
Also, like today they dealt with complaints:
“Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’” (Acts 6:1-4 ESV)
Thus the first administrators were born.
I love how when you read the Scripture you can tell the attitude of the disciples. They knew things had to be dealt with but they also knew it was NOT important. Not when compared to the importance of preaching the word of God. When they choose the administrators they didn’t choose the most organized, task oriented or business like people. They knew that even a task that was mundane in nature needed in the body of Christ to be handled by someone with spiritual eyes.
The word minister and administrator come from the same word.
Latin: administrare; to serve
So it shouldn’t surprise us that the first administrator chosen was Stephen who was also the first martyr. After being appointed with the managerial task of giving people food we run into Stephen not, “doing his job” but in a very Mary-like moment at the foot of Jesus. Stephen is preaching to a crowd of unbelievers. His passion without fear is to the point that he is stoned to death and in the process still preaches about love and God.
Martha, task oriented mentalities, are never the best way to approach situations regarding the church. We should all follow the example of Stephen the first administrator. An excellent administrator because he was good at counting cost, not as an accountant, but with spiritual eyes that saw that all was loss without Christ and all was gain to live and die for Him. To Stephen who knew his first responsibility was, as it is with each of us, to preach the truth, the word of God, and that is the task to which we have been called.