Implementing Theory Z In The Church: Managing People As Jesus Did -- By: Mary Ellen Drushal

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 20:0 (NA 1988)
Article: Implementing Theory Z In The Church: Managing People As Jesus Did
Author: Mary Ellen Drushal

Implementing Theory Z In The Church:
Managing People As Jesus Did

Mary Ellen Drushal

Dr. Drushal is Associate Professor of Christian Education and Church Administration at ATS. This article follows up Dr. Drushal’s previous article “Motivational Components of Theory Z Management”, ATJ 18 (1987), 8–27.


When will the church move into the 21st century in managing its human resources? The recent literature in church management and leadership is replete with volumes of platitudes and idealistic principles enthusiastically endorsed by their authors. While businesses have become more humane and caring in managing the people who manufacture their products (Peters & Austin, 1985), the church has maintained the same authoritarian approach to task and people issues it has used for centuries.

Authors of Christian leadership materials frequently cite passages in Exodus and Nehemiah when justifying their approach to management. These Old Testament examples are excellent illustrations of leaders learning to delegate responsibilities to others to achieve a common goal, but they lack attention to the long-term issues that allow the leader and the organization to survive and thrive through its people.

The New Testament account of how Jesus effectively trained and empowered his disciples for leadership should be the model for long-term management employed by the church. The disciples were well instructed for the task to which they had been called. The fact that the church exists today is evidence of the success of Jesus’ training. Jesus, through his leadership, implanted in the disciples’ minds an eternal perspective on management of people for a purpose. Can current church leaders do less?

There seems to be a prevalent view among pastors/leaders in small churches (attendance of 250 or less) that they can administer and manage the work of the church alone. Why do they do this? Why do they think they could or even should do it alone? Jesus, our supreme example in all aspects, is the only person in history who commanded all resources and information and could have managed the task alone. Yet he chose to establish his Kingdom by utilizing and training twelve people to function in his absence. Dare leaders/pastors in the church do less?

Leaders in the church must make a management choice which will affect how paid and volunteer staff are trained. McGregor (1960) states that how one manages people is based on the leader’s view of human nature and motivation. Since scripture amply outlines the sinfulness of

humanity and the carnal nature possessed by all, the assumption is that people need to be controlled by a ...

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