a life changing decision

Last fall, I received an email with information about a webcast series offered through Villanova University Center for Church Management & Business Ethics. One of my friends had recently completed an MBA through the program. I edited a few of their papers when they started the MBA a few years ago -not just because friends don’t let friends write with dangling prepositions- but also because I enjoyed what I was learning while proofreading. For a while, I also considered applying for the MBA program, but even with tuition reimbursements that were available through my diocese, I still wasn’t sure that I was ready to commit to another Master’s degree.

Besides, I’m 35. I have two degrees, and no student loans. I still can’t kick the habit of footnoting my grocery shopping lists, six years after finishing my M.A. If I went for another degree, at least right now, my brain would spontaneously combust.

After some discussion with my pastor last Fall, I decided that I would enroll in the Church Management Webcast Series which was offered through Villanova, in collaboration with Our Sunday Visitor and American Church. The series was designed to form pastors and church leaders from all walks of Christian life. Unlike the degree program, the only additional homework was a brief paper. After each webinar, we had three weeks to submit our reflections on the relationship between the connect and our own pastoral experience. Sometimes I would listen to the webcasts from my office when they went live on Wednesday afternoons. Other times, when I had a scheduling conflict, I would listen to them in my car. I actually registered for the program after the first one was broadcast, so I listened to the first webcast while I was on the treadmill at the gym. I really enjoyed how convenient it was to complete this course of study. Anyone with a high-school diploma could register, and the total cost was under $1000.

I was amazed at how much the presenters cared about the participants. I never experienced this level of caring in my undergraduate or graduate studies. Many of the presenters were on the faculty at Villanova, and all of them offered their emails with encouragement us to contact them with any additional questions.

My favorite webcast was about Human Resources. The presenter was so candid, and so knowledgeable. I finally learned what it means when a position is considered exempt. I also learned about the importance of performance evaluations, and that this important staff-development tool is typically approached with hesitation in the pastoral sector. After the webcast on Human Resources, I reached out to the presenter because I had some related questions of my own, and I was amazed at her warm, positive response. Every webcast in the series provided some value to me, but the one on HR provided several motivating factors in my decision to launch my own pastoral solutions business. My decision to get this certification in Church Management unequivocally changed my life.

Whether you’re a pastor or a parish secretary, a choir director or a book-keeper, a faith-formation director or a volunteer member of your parish council, YOU will benefit from the Church Management Webcast Series. There is something for everyone and it’s accessible for parish leaders from all academic backgrounds. As we approach the end of June, assignments are changing in many dioceses throughout the US. This means some readers might be welcoming their first term as a pastor, or assuming additional responsibilities as the result of a reconfiguration. The tools you will acquire through this series will improve your oversight of daily parish operations. For others, this can be a time when an otherwise stable position of employment begins to feel uncertain, and your certification will broaden your horizons when it’s time to advance.

You can click here to register for the Fast Track Church Management Webcast Series through Our Sunday Visitor. The best part is that if you start now, you could probably get a really great tan at no extra cost if you bring your work with you to the beach!

P.S. I’m not sponsored by the program to offer this review, but as a person who is committed to the empowerment of lay leaders, I encourage all of my colleagues to take advantage of this opportunity for professional development, especially during the lazy, hazy days of summer.

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