APPLIED CHRISTIANITY

Church Office
11
        There was a time when the English word, "secretary," meant one who could keep the secrets of another.  Then it
came to mean one who could also assist in other ways.  Today we have Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury,
Secretary of Labor.  For about a century we had private secretary, executive secretary, and just plain secretary.  Today,
because both men and women know and use computers, the late 20th century job description of secretary, except in
government, is almost obsolete.  Now, we use the term Administrator.  

        The Bible uses both the word secretary and administrator.  
Nave's Topical Bible categorizes secretaries as scribes
and transcribers of the law, the king's assistant, and the mustering officer in the army.  The earliest notation of a secretary
in the Bible is a list of King David's officers, including a man called his "recorder" and another man called his "secretary" (2
Samuel 8:16,17).          

        The term administrator is not found in the Bible, but administration is found in the New Testament.  The Greek is
diakonia from whence comes deacon or minister.  I Corinthians 12:5-6 translates it "different kinds of service....different
kinds of working."  

        This is how Lyndon Johnson, one of the U.S. presidents, got his start in Washington, D.C. ~ as a secretary.  The
secretary to the chairman of the board of large corporations were always secretaries.  By the 1960s, and for about thirty
years, only women were secretaries.  Men began rejoining the ranks again in the 1990s.   Administrators-secretaries have
always been extremely important and they will continue to be as long as there is a need to develop, organize, carry out, and
record important functions and events.    

        Today some mega-churches have administrators who work as treasurer, bookkeeper, etc.  This chapter, however, is
for the average size congregation.

        There are many ways today that you can help with the details of the good works that the church as a whole is trying to
accomplish.  Regardless of how menial some may seem at first, they are necessary and important.  Without the little things,
the larger things could not be accomplished.  The smaller stones are the bedrock upon which the main structure is built.  

        Probably the most obvious thing a church office administrator takes care of is the church bulletin.  We are not told in
the Bible to have a church bulletin, but we are told to be concerned one for another and to encourage one another.  The
details and hows are left up to us, such as by telephone, automobile, or in this case by bulletin.  

        There are many ways to organize a bulletin.  Most bulletins have the front page for a picture of the building, a listing
of services, and/or an inspirational item.  The second page has the news of who is ill, who is bereaved, what classes are
having special activities,who is having a birthday, who had a baby, who got married, area-wide meetings, potluck dinners,
etc.  The third page usually has a special article written by the minister(s) or elder.  And the last page usually is left at least
half blank to facilitate mailing.  

        Often the selection of inspirational items is left up to the administrator.  You could make a collection in a 5x7 card file
and categorize them by topic or put them in a data base in your computer.  You could also keep on hand books of
inspirational articles and poems.  You may find what the "editorial" article by the minister is going to be about each week,
then include a poem, quotation, or whatever you have on the same topic to create a weekly theme.  

      There are various formats to use in arranging and typing a bulletin.  For the greatest simplicity, you can just start at the
top of the paper and type down to the bottom.  Or you can turn your paper sideways (landscape in computerese) and type
two pages separately on each half.  When you are done with it, photocopy it, fold in the middle, and it comes out in book
format.  You could also make the page look more like a newspaper with two or three columns.  Newspapers have learned
that people can read faster and easier with narrower reading lines.  

        You should have some kind of headline at the first part of each separate news item.  This way the readers will be able
to pay special attention to those items that most concern them.    

        All names in your news items should be underlined or in bold print.  People like to read about people, and people like
to see their names in print.  This helps draw attention to those we need to know about.  

        If you have a postal permit from the post office, on the corner where stamps normally go, draw a square and inside it
type, "POSTAL PERMIT NO. 68" or whatever your assigned permit number is.  If you are mailing about 75 bulletins and
putting first-class postage on each, you can probably get a much cheaper rate by increasing your mailing list to a minimum
of 200 and getting a permit so you can mail at a fraction of the first class rate.  Check with your post office on all this.  

        Of all the administrative assistance you give, the bulletin will be the most time consuming.  But it is not actually that
difficult once you get the hang of it.  Just think of all the people who will receive an extra message of love from the bulletin,
and will also receive information on the ill, bereaved, and others who need their help.  So many good Christian works could
be done if more people knew when someone needed them.  The bulletin can help spread the word.  

        Whatever computer program you use, remember that you are licensed by the software company to use their
software.  If you copy what someone else has, you are using the software without paying for it which is outright theft.  So,
let's be ethical with whatever programs the church uses.  With a license, any time you have a problem or question, you can
call the company's 800 number for immediate assistance.  This is much faster than spending hours trying to find the
solution in the manual.  

        You can use a dot matrix printer, but copies will not be sharp and clear.  Ink jet printers are better quality but require
expensive new ink cartridges often.  Laser printers are more expensive initially, but ink cartridges need not be replaced
nearly as often, so save money in the long run.  It would be to your benefit to purchase a printer that reads letters as
drawings and not letters; this is called scaleable fonts.  With this type printer, you will be able to print large letters that the
others won't print.  Do make sure you have enough memory in your printer to handle what you want to do.  

        If you would like the capability of printing sharp photos without having to paste them onto your master, you can obtain
a scanner for your computer.  Just place the photo in the scanner, and it will take its own photo to put into your document.  
Scanners have different qualities and so do not copy photos well.  You may have to increase the memory in your printer to
have this capability, so be sure to check that.  

        If you cannot type or use a computer, you can help fold and address the bulletins.  If they are not mailed to all the
members of your congregation, there are always other churches and former members who want copies.  You could be of
great assistance in this.  

        Many congregations have cards for people to sign when they arrive at services so the elders can tell who was able to
attend each week.  With a hundred or more people, it is very difficult to notice everyone who was present.  

        We can follow up with those who were unable to attend, and see whether or not they were ill.  So often someone is ill
for a week or two and no one ever knows it.  Or perhaps someone got upset over something someone said in a class, and
may be on the brink of dropping out completely because of misunderstanding.  Or perhaps someone hasn't been t the
assembly for months, and since they usually sit in the back and rush right out, we didn't realize they'd been absent so long.  
So many people drift away from the church unnoticed, and the reason is often because they feel exactly that:  unnoticed
and unneeded.  

        You could play an important part with those cards.  You could put them in alphabetic order each week, mark those
who were there, and take note of those who were not.  Then you could pass them onto the elders so they  can watch over
the souls of everyone as carefully as possible.  Hebrews 13:17 states, They keep watch over you as men who must give an
account.  Yes, our elders must give an account of what happens to the souls of everyone they are over, and you can help
with this vital and grave responsibility.  

        Also, attendance cards have other information on them.  Sometimes people write announcements on them, or request
for prayers, or questions of the preacher.  Sometimes they request a private Bible study or a home visit.  The cards will also
tell whether the person is a member or visitor.  All cards with any of this on them can be set aside and given to appropriate
people to follow up with.  

        Does the church send out letters to the visitors to the services, new Christians, and new members in general?  Would
they if there was someone to type them?  Perhaps your help is needed for this.  There are so many good works left undone
because no one knows anyone to do them.  

        Do you ever have gospel meetings where letters or fliers are mailed to everyone in the community?  If so, volunteer to
help stuff envelopes and seal them.  This is a job that takes awhile.  But with several helping, it should not take long and is
even rather enjoyable when done as a group.  

        When there is a Vacation Bible School, someone is needed to help register the little ones.  This is one of the most
effective ways there is of reaching out into the community.  Every child's full name, grade, address, telephone number, and
the names of parents need to be registered.  Then an accurate record needs to be kept daily to see which children return.  
Whoever is absent you or the regular teacher can call and see if they need a ride.  

        At the end of the Vacation Bible School, the church as a whole or the individual teachers may wish to send a letter to
each child and parent, inviting them to come on Sundays and/or Wednesdays also.  Then a follow-up visit could be made
by the Sunday school teacher.  But records need to be kept so they will know whether to write and where to go when they
visit.  Again, this may seem like a small task, but it is very important for a good foundation for the growth and development
of the Bible class.  

        Does your congregation help a missionary anywhere?  Write and tell them you would be willing to help with their
correspondence.  Usually many different congregations and individuals take an interest in missionaries and send funds.  
Yet they are working so hard among the people that they rarely have the time to sit down and write letters except perhaps
before breakfast or around midnight.  Just being able to dictate letters on a tape recorder and send them to you for typing
and mailing would be a tremendous service.  You can work out something about the signature.  Some missionaries ask that
the letters be sent back to them for signatures and mailing.  Others ask you to mail them out yourself directly.  A lot would
depend on whether it was a personal or business letter.  

        If you have several elders in your congregation and a lot of mail comes to them, they probably have a hard time
getting all the correspondence sorted out in their minds.  If you are a genuine "secretary" in the original sense and can
keep SECRETS, perhaps they would be interested in your sending them photocopies of all the letters, and then typing out
a one- or two-sentence summary of each letter all on one piece of paper to use as reference at their meetings.  Often many
of their letters are not answered because there is no one to help them get all the replies out.  If you are one of the few
people left who learned shorthand and remember some of it, tell the minister and elders you could take dictation once a
week either in person or on the phone.  However, most just type them on the computer themselves now.  

        Just remember, all their mail is strictly confidential and usually even their wives do not know about them.  For their
letters are from people needing help with their problems (what if the sordid news leaked out?), and from people needing
financial assistance (what if people thought money was being spent that really wasn't?), and possible projects (what if
people heard about a project that was later cancelled?).  So be prudent, keep their confidence, and help them in the
process.  

        Is there a Christian children's home, nursing home, day care center or social services organization near you?  They
survive on token charges for services if any, and donations of both money and time from people like you.  They have many
details that need to be taken care of and a great deal of paper work.  You could free those in charge of these programs to
do the work for which they were chosen, instead of bogging themselves down in mires of paper work.  

      Many letters requesting support go out.  Often there is a monthly newsletter that is sent out to keep people informed of
their ministry.  They could use help with this.  If their staff is really short handed, you could help answer the telephone
and/or be a receptionist on a volunteer basis.  Help the administrators with routine correspondence if the need arises.  Help
file.  Records must be kept straight or no one would know what was being done with whom or when.  The organization may
or may not have a secretary, but few ever have enough help.  

        In order to help your entire congregation be filled with "love and good works" (Hebrews 10:25), you might keep a card
file or database categorizing various works that need to be done, either on a regular basis or periodically or on special
occasions.  Although Christians must do their good works whether or not someone else has asked them to, some occasions
call for a larger coordination in order to accomplish a large-scale work.  Each category would have sub-categories.  You
could probably use 3x5 cards, and list the names of the people who are interested in helping with each type work.  (Put it
on the computer if it has a data base.)    Major tab headings might be as follows:  

                           Greeting Cards/Notes  

                                   Benevolence  

                                 Transportation  

                                      Domestic  

                                     Telephone  

                                     Secretarial  

                                        Visiting  

                                     Hospitality  

                               Foreign Missions  

                                 Special People  

                                   Maintenance  

                                 Bible Teaching  

                                 Public Worship  

                                    Leadership  

An example of types of sub-categories or sub-tabs is:  

        Telephone Work:  

                    Call a shut-in daily  

                    Call absentees on Monday  

                    Call bus children every Saturday  

                    Call members regarding unexpected events  

                    Call new Christians daily to encourage  

         An explanation of the "Special People" category:  This would be if a person wanted to concentrate on helping people
such as senior saints, youth, overweight, drug abusers, alcohol abusers, singles, single again, deaf, blind, mentally
handicapped, physically handicapped, ex-convicts, pre-schoolers, marriages, unemployed, etc.  

        By keeping such a file, you could help your congregation do its work as a group and avoid unintentionally neglecting
any area.  

        Regardless of what you do in an administrative capacity, remember that whoever you are helping, you are a part of
their work, you are a fellow worker with that person or those persons.  God gave each one of us certain talents; and he
expects us to use them or lose even that which we know how to do (Matthew 25:14-28).  Above all, as you bless others with
your help, you will receive a multiplied blessing in return.  And isn't that wonderful!


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