On a whim Career Press contacted me to see if I had any interest in receiving a review copy of “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization: The Essential Guide to Improving Your Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or Temple” by Michael A. Sand. Now I don’t manage a religious organization, heck, I don’t even belong to a religious organization, but I jumped at the chance to check out the book. Why? Because I’m nosy. I wanted to see how effective religious organizations might be run, and since the author also wrote “How to Manage an Effective Nonprofit Organization” I figured he probably had a lot of insights since many religious organizations are nonprofits.
To say the book was eye opening is an understatement. I’ve attended events at assorted churches and temples throughout my life, but never in a zillion years would I have suspected the amount of effort that went on behind the scenes. Even if these organizations weren’t as effectively managed as they could be, if they were even halfway to effectively managed the amount of work involved is staggering.
It seems so simple on the outside looking in. You have a religious leader and they prepare sermons or rituals, perform weddings and funerals, and then you have some volunteers that I don’t know, keep the place clean and help out when needed. It’s not like I thought it was easy, it just seemed pretty straightforward. I would like to state now, for the record, that I am a dumb ass. Yes you have the stuff I mentioned previous, but what about by-laws? What about actually finding and keeping volunteers? What about budget, or fundraising for that matter? What about membership? The list goes on!
Fortunately Sand’s book is there to lay it all out for you. To me it was overwhelming, but it’s a book, the guidance is still there waiting for you after you catch your breath. “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization” is not an exciting read, but it is incredibly thorough and detailed despite it’s compact size of 221 pages. Sand does his best to navigate the diverse religious landscape of America without stepping on any toes. Readers of The Buffet will be interested to know that along with the usual Judeo Christian suspects he also briefly touches on the Baha’i faith, the Quakers, and Wicca when discussing how different religious groups find leaders. However, if you’ve been looking for that truly common denominator between assorted faiths, how they can be effectively managed may be the link you’ve been waiting for. It’s an oddly comforting notion.
I honestly don’t know how many of you guys need to know how to effectively manage a religious organization, but if you’re like me and curious, you will definitely find “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization” an interesting read.