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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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CEO or shepherd?

Some say a congregation's leader needs to be both

Today’s pastors often feel like the CEO of a small (or not so small) company. Finance, building operations, marketing, communications, human resources and risk management all eventually end up at their desk.

Members, meanwhile, may still be expecting a shepherd who will lovingly tend the flock.

Person at end of executive board tableA study by New York’s Auburn Seminary, “How Are We Doing?” (December 2007), asked recent graduates of U.S. theological and rabbinical schools to rank the importance of 14 areas of study to their professional life. Mainline Protestant graduates ranked Bible, theology, preaching, spiritual practices and pastoral counseling as their top five. Congregational administration was 14th. “Traditional academic subjects and fields are more highly rated than most practical ones,” the study concluded.

Yet seminaries are working hard to prepare students for the management side of ministry. Having no comprehensive text for the church administration course he teaches, Michael Cooper-White, president of the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.), decided to write one with Robert N. Bacher, former assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop. Church Administration: Programs, Process, Purpose (Fortress Press, 2007) was the result.


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