Priests say management training is a revelation
We are working with the Church of South India (CSI) to roll out a training programme that is equipping pastors with much-needed management skills that are not currently being taught in theological colleges.
CSI has 2,900 pastors looking after 15,000 congregations across 24 dioceses. During ordination training they learn about theology and church history and acquire pastoral skills. But once resident in a parish, many pastors (as priests are called in India) find they do not have the skills to manage people, handle administration or oversee finances.
This skills gap is being address by the Institute of Pastoral Management (IPM), which was set up in Chennai in January this year by CSI and is co-funded by Us.
IPM has set itself the target of training 300 pastors a year in the areas of management, administration, human resources, information technology, legislation, property laws and community development. All the trainers are professionals and experts in their field.
Called to be a manager as well as a shepherd!
One of the first to undergo training was the Revd Prem Vardhan, from Anandpur in Rayalseema Diocese. He said: ‘I knew a pastor is called to be a shepherd and servant leader, but I hadn’t realised I am called to be a manager as well. This concept was a revelation – it really helped me.
‘As soon as I returned to my parish, I shared what I had been learning with my church team. Now we are using these ideas to run our churches, and we can see the benefit. For example, we are now more mindful to encourage and motivate our staff and Sunday school teachers.’
The Revd Rajendra Masilaman, from Vellore Diocese, said: ‘Our churches have a lot of land and, until the training, I hadn’t realised I might have a responsibility to make the best use of it to benefit our people. So now we are using this land – whether for growing food or to rent out to generate an income.’
One important focus of IPM is to provide training in church-led community development, a bible-based process which encourages congregations and communities to develop projects using local skills and assets that might include income-generation, building a school or improving sanitation in a village.
Us International Programme Manager Davidson Solanki said: ‘In this part of India, where the majority of Christians are Dalits, church leaders are generally respected and influential figures in the community. So anything we can do to further empower and envision these leaders will have a huge impact. IPM is doing this by addressing this skills gap.’