Rapid growth in the field of management science in recent decades has resulted in a plethora of resources for leadership and management in the Church. How should ecclesiologists respond to this trend? This essay highlights the importance of a theologically-grounded approach to managing church organisations. In particular, it examines a foundational document in the Catholic tradition from the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, to draw implications for evaluating church organisations. Most studies on Lumen Gentium have focused on one or other aspect of its multiply-rich content. This analysis, however, on the recent 50th anniversary of the document’s promulgation in November 1964, recaps its overall message through a triple hermeneutics of author, text and receiver and brings this message into dialogue with the modern-day challenge of managing church organisations. It will be proposed that the real fruitfulness of these organisations depends on the extent to which they manifest the Church’s nature and mission as a sacrament of salvation for the world. The implications of this are then translated into a framework for evaluating church organisations.
See for example Larry W. Boone‘Evaluating Parish Performance,’ in A Concise Guide to Catholic Church Managemented. Kevin E. McKenna (Notre Dame in: Ave Maria Press 2010) pp. 145–161 and The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management ‘Standards for Excellence’ http://www.theleadershiproundtable.org/sfx/about-the-standards/default.asp.
Pope John XXIII‘Opening Speech to the Council’ in The Documents of Vatican IIed. Walter M. Abbott (New York: America Press 1966) p. 714. (The Abbott translation of the Vatican II documents will be used throughout this essay.)
See for example Richard R. Gaillardetz‘The Renewal of Ecclesiology at the Second Vatican Council’ in Teaching with Authority: A Theology of the Magisterium in the Church(Collegeville mn: Michael Glazier 1997) p. 12 and Michael G. Lawler and Thomas J. Shanahan Church: A Spirited Communion (Collegeville mn: Liturgical Press 1995) p. 3.