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Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)




This study was undertaken, in response to a need of long standing, to raise the consciousness of the church regarding her need for more effective administration of the ministry. Simultaneously, the purpose is to identify and bring recognition to a ready source capable of addressing this need—black women in administration.


The desired goal is to provide a basis for affirming the gift of administration as an appropriate ministry for women and an essential ministry for the church and, utilizing the theology of administration, propose an adult education model of effective training for the ministry of administration.

The Problem

This study addresses the problem of ineffective administration which I argue is directly related to the life, vitality and growth of the church and the involvement of members of the church. The church has not validated the ministry of administration though the need is evidenced by ineffective administrative operations of many church leaders. The gift of administration has been underutilized as an intentional ministry of major importance for the enabling and empowering of women to share their several gifts in the programmatic, coordinating and implementing operations of the church. Non-involvement is a tragic commentary on those who give leadership to the community of believers. Each year fewer people attend church regularly and even fewer actively participate in significant church relationships. In the male-oriented church, men in leadership have not solved this increasing problem. The revolutionized world is in need of visionary, creative, skilled, and committed black women in administration to cultivate and use their skills for effective ministry.


A threefold process was used. First, the literature was researched to discover historical, biblical and theological support for black women in the ministry of administration. Secondly, a survey was conducted with selected seminary graduates and non-seminary practitioners to explore their attitudes, philosophies and present administrative roles. Thirdly, a consultation was held with a select group of experienced clergy and lay women currently engaged in significant administrative positions in religious organizations and the church.

Problem Solution

As women make their way into significant, responsible Christian leadership positions, they need to be encouraged and equipped to focus their attention on enabling the discovery, utilization and ordering of spiritual gifts in the church and wherever Christians are living out their faith in everyday life. Having participated in the revolution to liberate women, Christian women have the challenging opportunity to open doors to significant leadership roles in the church and religious institutions where their administrative ministry is needed. To bring acceptance and recognition by the church of the ministry of administration that it deserves, is a formidable undertaking, but one that must be attempted. Black women have the potential to give leadership to this task. The ministry of administration is a position that needs to be filled. Black women bring to the challenge of administration a history of overcoming obstacles to freedom, of bearing the pain and frustration of triple discrimination; they bring an intuitive problem-solving capability inherent from ingenious slave survival. Black women are among the "49 million women employed in this country who have altered the image of womanhood and changed the way America lives, works and even thinks."


The evaluation of this project occurred mainly in consultation with black women leaders who have administration as a major function in their ministry. In the consultation the concept of administration ministry, as set forth in this study, was critically reviewed.


Some of the terms in this paper are defined by using collective meanings of several authors, and have been paraphrased with particular reference to the ministry of administration.

Administration - A function of skillful, coherent and comprehensive coordination of the mission ministries utilizing some of the principles, tools, practices and resources of the business world.

Religious institutions - Organizations which have in their purpose or objective the Christian intent to meet human needs and assist persons to improve their standard of living, spiritually and physically.

Ministry - The Christ-centered, intentional, organized, dedicated, service of a person who proclaims by life and words the reality of the love of Jesus Christ in relationships with people, and in relationship to God.

Church - God's chosen community identified by each and all of her members sharing in koinonia, witnessing to the love of God through the use of gracious gifts each member has received to bring others to receive God's love.

Review of Literature

Theories of administration have been written heretofore by men who have historically monopolized administrative roles and positions. Their treatment of the ministry of administration has been written from their experiences, to the exclusion of women. Some of the books, relevant in part to the subject matter in this paper, are reviewed here.

James D. Anderson and Ezra Earl Jones, in the Management of Ministry (1978), focus on the individual church in its community context. The authors use case examples to show how the minister can manage an effective, efficient, enabling ministry to meet pastoral needs and community objectives. The emphasis is on the leader of ministry rather than tools and procedures in the management of an organization.

The concept of an intentional ministry, by John Biersdorf in Creating An Intentional Ministry (1976), is described as a continuing process of negotiation with significant social systems such as congregation, family, peers, denomination, seminary, neighborhood, community and culture. The effective administration of the process is seen as an intentional ministry.

The twelve keys that Kennon L. Callahan treats in Twelve Keys to an Effective Church (1983), serve as guide lines to what a church must do to be effective. The author places considerable emphasis on "long-range strategic planning" , and the blending of management expertise to a theological perspective. Callahan is inclusive of women as capable of advancing the church to accomplish her mission in the world.

Alvin J. Lindgren has organized in Foundations for Purposeful Church Administration (1979), an extensive directional guide for church administration. It is geared to the

beginner to interpret his/her concept of church administration, its foundations, and prerequisites for leadership in this field.

In Lindgren's later book, Let My People Go (1980), he turns to the age old problem of the enslaved laity who need to be freed, to be enlisted and be equipped to increase the church's ability to make a corporate witness and impact in making known the love of God. The collaborate responsibility of clergy and lay members is the administrative challenge presented in this book.

Black Church Life Styles, by Emmanuel L. McCall (1986), is a compilation of black religious experiences that provide interpretations of black church life styles. The varieties of experiences give a realistic description of the primary place, the church, where women will practice the ministry of administration.

Terry A. Clark in his dissertation confronts the weakness in administration by the clergy that has limited the influence of and ministry to those who really want to be a society of ministers. The male clergy administrators have discouraged women from active involvement in their "lofty ranks." Clark, a pastor, admits his own negligence in the paper he has written on "Equipping for Ministry: A Project to Equip Christian Laypersons to Perform Their Individual and Corporate Ministries," 1983.

The article, "Together and in Harness: Women's Traditions in the Sanctified Church," by Cheryl Townsend Gilkes explores four aspects of black women's experiences in the sanctified church that have been part of their larger historical role that emphasizes independence, self-reliance, strength and autonomy; the devaluation of black women by dominant culture and their elevation to roles of spiritual leadership.

In "What Does Administration Theory Give the Church," Stephen C. Rasor raises some cautions on the use and application of organizational concepts and management theories in the church, lest they be used as "another manipulative mechanism to enhance the status quo or to promote a congregation 's tunnel vision of a maintenance oriented institution . . ." which the church is not. It is a warning that women in administration should beware of slipping into.

James G. Sigorentos and Myron Shank authored the article, "Public Roles for Women in the Pauline Church: A Reappraisal of the Evidence (I Corinthians 11:2-16; I Corinthians 14:33-35; I Timothy 2:15.)" The main consideration in these texts was for a woman to show a "proper" submissive attitude and literalists use it to justify limiting women's roles and authority. The authors attempt to provide as full a range as possible of ministries for women, without hindering the spread of the gospel.

Method in Ministry by James D. Whitehead and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead is a research report supporting the need for contemporary method in ministry. Because of its reflective and immediate nature drawing on experience, the need for process in ministry will more likely be received by black women than male ministers whose method and style have been traditionally autonomous. Women can learn to make fuller use of their innate and subconscious resources in a highly conscious and organized manner.

None of these books on church administration was written from the experience of black women.

This project dissertation was given the title "Black Women and the Ministry of Administration" in recognition of cultural and sexual distinctions that give meaning and style to the way that one functions in ministry. The African-American woman's experience of triple jeopardy has provided the black woman an extraordinary context for the development of creative skills needed for effective ministry.

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