Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fr. CEO

Jennifer of Et tu, Jen wrote the other day about whether priests receive any kind of MBA-style training for the business of running a parish. (After all, the average parish has more employees and certainly more resources than the average US small business.)

Comments mostly seemed to center around the financial aspects of running a parish, and the importance of the parish finance council in providing the business acumen to run a parish. I don't necessarily see the necessity of priests having huge amounts of financial training (as people pointed out, that's what the finance council is for) but there's another side to business skills which it seems like would be a huge help in running a parish: team building and people management skills. Now, I'm not clear how often MBA or other business education programs do a good job of imparting these. Many MBAs are not very good businessmen (just as many literature PhDs don't actually have much of an artistic sense.)

Wherever you get it, though, there's a set of lessons and skills that are very important in running an organization. Some should be obvious: don't criticize all the time, don't play favorites, don't tell different stories to different people, etc. Other fine points of getting people to work well together take more thought to pick up -- or some teaching from a more experienced practitioner.

There's often an expectation that it shouldn't take much management skill to lead a ministry, since everyone is united in their desire to do the will of God. In my experience, though, ministries (and parish organizations) can be the scene of some of the most bitter politicing around -- putting most watercooler back-biting to shame. I think some of this stems from people feeling like all is justified in order to achieve good ends. Some of it is also from a curious misconception, that since people within the parish are "family" that they don't need to be treated with the courtesy and detachment that one would treat co-workers with.

People management and creating a positive "corporate culture" is one of the hardest things to figure out, and although I feel that some books I've read have been very helpful, it's not strictly a book-learning kind of thing. But if there's a way to incorporate some lessons in such things into the practical side of seminary training, I'm sure newly ordained priests would find it a huge help.

1 comment:

Tony said...

I don't understand why priests are being made responsible for all the day to day management of the finances of the parish.

Wouldn't it make more sense for the pastor to dedicate the lion's share of his time pastoring, and only spend time overseeing the finances of the parish rather than spending most of his time micromanaging the finances?