Book review: A pastor's introduction to church administration

July 22, 2016 | by Mark Lenz

Church administration is an area of the church that is extremely important, yet often overlooked. It’s like the engine in your car. It’s critical to get you to where you’re going, but you only notice it when something is wrong. Unlike the topic of church health and church growth, not many books are written solely about this topic. I recently read A Pastor’s Introduction To Church Administration, by Jeremy W. Odom, and want share some insights to help you decide if you want to read it.

First, the Pros
Odom does a great job at giving the reader a detailed overview of church administration. He clearly knows the topic and it’s evident he speaks from experience. At the end of each chapter, Odom gives practical application exercises, and includes a list of additional resources related to the topic.

The author does a masterful job in letting the reader know what church administration is. He defines church administration as “the leadership which equips the church to be the church.” Simple, to the point, and yet, insightful. Odom also gives a simple analogy that defines the topic. He explains, “W.T. Conner writes ‘The Lord can cut more timber with a sharp axe than with a dull one.’ Church administration attempts to sharpen the axe.”

Odom clearly and intentionally ties church administration to church leadership. He says that good leadership and good church administration are inseparable, and that “leadership without effective administration is not leadership; it is philosophy.” Very true!

The author devotes an entire chapter to, what he calls, “The Nuts & Bolts of the Church.” He does a magnificent job at explaining what vision, mission, values, strategic plans and organizational goals are, and how they help a church function. If you’re going to only read one chapter of this book, that’s the chapter I’d recommend.

He also goes into detail about other topics such as church boards, meetings and bi-laws. He expounds on committees, councils, and constitutions. And he concludes with chapters on topics like church finances and church discipline. Maybe not as exciting to read, yet still important.

Next, the Cons
The only issue I had was that Odom wrote the book from one, very specific perspective. If you work in a small church, heavily influenced by your denominational structure, and have “Deacons and Elders”, this is the book for you. He answers many “how to” questions from that narrow perspective.

But many pastors and church workers don’t work in that kind of culture. They work in larger churches that don’t have strong, or any denominational ties. They don’t work with “Deacons and Elders”, but with “Leadership Teams” and “Vision Boards.” They work with new strategies to reach people of this generation. This book does not “think outside the box” when it comes to strategies and structures. For example, Odom devotes just 5 pages to the topic of “Church Growth,” and the list of recommended resources are all over 15 years old. He also encourages his readers to give careful consideration to the size and color of offering envelopes. Do churches still use offering envelopes?

Concluding Thoughts
If you are looking to explore the reason for having good church administration in a small, denominational church, I recommend A Pastors’ Introduction To Church Administration. It’s gives solid information and valuable details that will “sharpen your axe” and help that kind of church to thrive administratively. However, if you’re searching for the latest administrative ideas for larger, or multi-site churches, I’d recommend looking for a different resource. 

Topics: Administration, Book Reviews, Church Growth, Ministry

Mark Lenz

Mark J. Lenz is a faith-based business owner and church consultant helping churches create organizational health and bringing clarity and focus to ministry and mission.


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