Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review: Peter Drucker's Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices

Three things you need to know about Peter Drucker:

1. Author of 39 books before his death in 2005, he is considered the father of modern business management.

2. Towards the end of his life, he switched from studying the management of businesses to the management of non-profits -- especially churches.

3. "One of the most important things about running a church," he once said, "is making sure that you don't run it like a business."

Drucker's book, Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices, explains that last point in five chapters: mission, management, performance, people, and developing yourself as a leader. Though many of his examples are drawn from other non-profits (such as hospitals, museums, or the Girl Scouts), there's not a page of this book that pastors won't find valuable -- and provocative.

When it comes to money, for instance, Drucker points out that the bottom line in business really is the bottom line, i.e. the more money you have, the more successful you are. But more money in the bank may not be good news for a church -- not unless it uses that money to fulfill its mission.

Drucker's book is full of similar insights on everything from accountability ("no decision is made until someone is designated to carry it out") to training volunteers ("start slow -- not low"). The result is a book that every pastor should read.

Especially if you hate business books!

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