Managing Faith Based Organizations: Clients, Congregants, and Adizes

Managing Faith Based Organizations-2 Written by Lorisa Hasenbush and Barry Bowater & Will Blesch

Note: The opinions expressed in the following article are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Dr. Adizes or The Adizes Institute.

Faith-based organizations often find themselves with many of the same management related problems that secular groups and associations do. At the Adizes Institute, we believe that the methodologies developed by Dr. Ichak Adizes cross over all for-profit/non-profit/secular/faith-based lines. Because of that, we caught up with Adizes Associate, Barry Bowater, and got him to help explain some of the largest issues faced by faith-based organizations, and how they can overcome them by implementing Adizes.

When it comes to faith-based organizations, Adizes Associate, Mr. Barry Bowater, has a great deal of experience in helping groups and ministries associated with the Christian faith. Additionally, he utilizes Adizes in his responsibilities with the Government of Canada, Youth for Christ Canada, and Trinity Western University.

Definitions First

It is a good thing to define what a faith-based organization is. According to an article published by Harvard University, “this most fundamental question does not yet have a clear answer. In fact, there does not seem to be a generally accepted description used by government, academia, the media or even the faith-based sector. (1) The definitional ambiguity associated with the term “faith-based organization” is due in large part to the broad array of organizations that call themselves “faith-based”— organizations that can vary widely in size, mission, services provided, degree of religiosity, and ties to religious institutions. (2) While several scholars have developed interesting typologies to distinguish faith-based organizations from their secular counterparts, generally … an FBO (faith-based organization) can be characterized as an organization, with or without nonprofit status that provides social services and is either religiously-motivated or religiously affiliated.” (1)

Another definition notes that, “A faith-based organization is an organization that does not have worship as its primary purpose, but which is attached to a religious organization, to religious organizations, or to a religious tradition.” (3)

Types of Faith-Based Organizations and Managerial Roles

It’s interesting to note that President George W. Bush’s “Faith-Based and Community Initiative”(4) identified four types of faith-based organizations, while Dr. Ichak Adizes describes four types of managerial roles within any organization. (5)

Immediately below is a table of these four types of faith-based organizations, followed by a description of the four managerial roles.

Managing Faith Based Organizations-1

Companies’ management problems are always caused by people – to be more precise, by their inability to perform the roles assigned to them. This is true in non-profit, faith-based organizations as well. Due to this realization, Dr. Adizes developed and offered his typology of managerial roles in any organization:

P – The Producer – he sells, engineers, runs the production system, or effectively completes research assignments. He or she is more capable of achieving results and is more results-oriented than others.

A – Administrator – he provides for efficiency. He or she is a manager who plans, coordinates, supervises and controls the fulfilment of the assigned tasks, and successfully manages staff and projects.

E – Entrepreneur – a manager-entrepreneur who is in the creative pursuit, who launches projects, invents and creates, and who finds the way for the company’s development and profit making.

I – Integrator – a manager who is concerned with people, who is concerned with smoothing the workings of the system, combining the processes so that employees can work as a team.

There are no managers who can perform all of these roles equally well. Each player has a certain set of qualities. Together they bring balance to an organization’s management team.

Disintegration throughOver-Inspiration

In our interview with you, Mr. Bowater, you mentioned that “inspirational leaders are very ‘EI’ oriented in their management style.” Can you please discuss how this may be a problem, whether it was part of the process of disintegration you saw in the organizations you worked with, how you went about addressing it, and what type of results you saw?

Within the faith-based organizations that I have worked with, the leaders (pastors – clergy) are “called” by God as a “life-calling” to enter into service. This calling comes from their personal, intimate understanding of God’s personal work in their lives through their relationship with Him and their understanding of God’s purpose for humankind. That inspiration is understood through the study of God’s Word (The Holy Bible in the Christian’s case) and from the Holy Spirit that indwells the believer when, at some point in their lives, they have entered into a personal relationship with God. Their “calling” is to a growing relationship with Christ (never stagnant, always instructional, constantly spontaneous). In addition, their “calling” is to service, not only to God but also to help fulfill God’s purpose for mankind. The “calling” is always “missional.”

Faith-based leadership represents many types of managerial styles but four common types are the following;

pAeI (Tactical Leader style) This style is driven by theological correctness. Staying true to God’s Word and the applications that come from an understanding of God’s Word. They are able to convince people to live as God would “want” them to live, in accordance with God’s values and truths. (“p” and “e” are lacking which limits creative new strategies and tangible results.)

paEI (The Inspirational Leader Style) This style focuses on the vision that comes from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit and inspires people to “want” to be part of God’s vision and plan. (The “what” and the “how” are missing or lack emphasis.)

The main problem with this style of leadership, which I find quite common, is the organization’s inability to assess capacity or capability. In other words, the vision often becomes too big to accomplish. This is true, especially in smaller congregations who take on a vision (often without strategy) without a proper assessment of people’s willingness or ability to be involved. The gap between what “IS” and what the “EI” WANTS is too big to close and so “faith” makes up the difference. God will fill in the missing pieces. Faith is commendable, and for the Christian, including me, it is the only way to live. However, we need to be able to grow our capacity through small steps of faith that are realistic within the framework of the people we lead, and the resources that are available to us. To do otherwise and not fulfill the vision can, and often does, lead to discouragement.

PaEi (The Entrepreneurial Leader Style) Like most entrepreneurs this style is very exciting, driven by big vision and big plans that are expressed in the “want” form which can be very inspirational – especially when communicated to other “PE’s”. (The “A”, how and the “I”, who tend to be missing). Many years ago, a friend studied the fastest growing churches in America and discovered that most of them were led by this “PE” style – which, by the way, if I recall, these churches represented 10% of all the churches in the study.)

PaeI (The Guide Leader Style) This style focuses on people and the mobilization of people. It begins with meeting needs whether those needs are expressed within the congregation or in the community outside the church. Their “vision” is understood to be God’s Great Commandment, in essence, to love your neighbor as you love yourself. This style focuses on the mobilization of the congregation (the volunteer army) to be engaged in serving God by helping others. (The “a” and the “e” tend to be missing. Quite often, but not always, any willing volunteer who has an idea to meet people’s needs can develop that into a strategy as part of the overall church strategy which leads to lack of focus. The lack of “e” usually means that only half of God’s purpose for mankind is expressed – peoples’ needs are being met but the expression of God’s life changing gift of forgiveness is often left out.)

Overcoming Objections to Secular Management Methodologies

Some scholars argue that faith-based organizations are not that different from secular organizations, apart from the “missionary zeal with which they approach their missions.” (6)

In your interview, you stated, “many theologians find management principles to be sinful. Additionally, they try to lead from the pulpit.” You also stated, “The Adizes Methodology is full of Judeo-Christian principles. Once theologians realize that management works with their values, they feel more comfortable.”

My intention is to make the audience feel comfortable with the Adizes language and definitions from a foundation of their language and foundation. The participants are theologians (pastors and staff of the institution), the Board, made up of volunteer leaders from within the congregation, and other key leaders from within the congregation who are not staff or Board members. The volunteers understand the cultural language of the organization. Most of the churches I have worked with are classified as “evangelical” in their expression which can includes the “mainline denominations” such as Catholics, Anglican, (Episcopal in the US), Presbyterian, Wesleyan, United (in Canada) as well as the Baptists, Pentecostal, New Life, Evangelical Free, Mennonite Brethren, Alliance, etc.

When I work with a faith-based organization, I always try to begin with a 2 day Syndag (Synergistic Organizational Diagnosis) in which I present the fundamentals of the Adizes Methodology. These fundamentals of course, include the goals of the Adizes Methodology. We go over “What is management,” “The 4 Roles of Management,” “The Management Styles of People,” (Including, how to work with people who are different from you and the seven basic areas of conflict), a basic understanding of the Lifecycle of an Organization and the philosophical basis for the methodology, which is Mutual Trust and Respect.

As part of this presentation, I will ask several questions:

  1. (Q) Where is the first basic management discussion found in the bible?
    1. (A) Moses conversation with his Father in Law, Jethro in Exodus 17: 13-25
      1. 13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to liveand how they are to behave. 21 But select capable menfrom all the people—men who fearGod, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officialsover thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leadersof the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
  2. The purpose of this section, in part, is to show that the common language of Adizes applies to faith-based organizations as much as it does to any other organization. (Q) In the “P” role of management – Purpose; (1) What is the purpose of your organization? (2) Why was it established in the first place? (3) Whom are you trying to serve? (Who are your clients?). (4) How well are you doing in meeting those needs
    1. (A1) Our purpose is to meet the needs of people as expressed in the bible
    2. (A2) We are to be God’s army to meet their physical and emotional needs AND to share the Gospel of God’s love and forgiveness.
    3. (A3) In serving God, we have 2 sets of clients; a. those within the congregation (internal client) and; b. everyone outside the congregation (external client) within our community and around the world.
    4. (A4) We spend most of our time meeting the needs of the inside congregation (internal client). Another question;  (Q5) Why so much time on the internal client? (A5a) Because there are so many needs within our congregation and (A5b) we have lost sight of our purpose to meet the needs of the external client. (A5c) We really don’t know how to meet the needs of the external, changing culture around us.
  3. (Q1) How much time do you spend in the short term (PA) as an organization and how much do you spend in the long term (EI)? (Q2) Why?
    1. (A1) 90-95% in the short term – week to week
    2. (A2) Our main focus is the internal client. Even though we inspire with vision (from the pulpit – “E”) our strategy (“PA”) is internally focused
  4. (Q) Where do you think you are on the Lifecycle of the organization?
    1. (A) We identify ourselves in “Stable”, “Aristocracy” or the “Founder’s Trap”
  5. (Q) What do you believe are some ways of getting back to Prime?
    1. (A1) Introduce more “E” in our leadership team
    2. (A2) Utilize the “E” within our congregation (mobilize the volunteers in the congregation that demonstrates a balance of PAEI – especially “E” because we have lost “E”.
    3. (A3) Develop a succession mentality within our organization that intentionally focuses on the next generation of leadership.
    4. (A4) Research the culture within our community for understanding and develop strategies that will affectively meet their needs through respect and trust.
  6. (Q) What does the bible have to say about mutual trust and respect?
    1. (A1) I have already shared with them the basic Adizes definitions of MT&R. At the appropriate time, I share the following diagram;

Managing Faith Based OrganizationsThe Christian’s “righteousness” is established when we TRUST God’s promise that He will forgive our sins when we accept (ask for forgiveness based on Christ’s death on the cross). This is called a substitutional redemption – Christ was sacrificed for us as “the Lamb of God”. Christians who walk with God (not cultural Christians) are born again which allows them (YOU in the diagram) to be free (from guilt) to be the person that God formed you to be before you were born physically. (See Psalm 139). This freedom allows the Christian to perform acts of “justice” by loving their neighbor as they love themselves. (I often joke that a lot of people follow this command religiously, they don’t love or like themselves and they love their neighbor accordingly!)

When we are free to be the kind of people God wants us to be, then we are equipped to serve others effectively. Through this exercise of service, the people we serve are able to develop a trust relationship with God once they understand the Christian’s motive of love. Serving others, especially in cultures we don’t understand begins with respect. We must respect their differences if we are to develop a relationship of trust.

Through this explanation, the Adizes definition of MT&R comes to life for the Christian.

Faith-Based Leadership Development

Vision and values are very important to these organizations. Leadership development is not emphasized nearly enough – especially developing the next generation of leaders. When I get invited to work with a faith based organization, I am often asked to assist them in developing their long-term vision and strategy development for that long-term vision. The value of the diagnostic (Syndag) is that it points out the need to develop an effective short term strategy before developing a long-term strategy. Column 4/5 on the Attribution Analysis Chart is the most eye-opening piece of information that any faith based organization can receive. Of course, they then need to establish Synerteams to correct the short comings.

Land Owners and Shepherds

Can you please explain the differences between leaders and managers within faith-based organizations? How do these differ from secular organizations?

You said in your interview the following: “John P. Kotter abstractly says, “Management is about coping with complexity; leadership is about coping with change.”

Faith based organizations are volunteer organizations in that, the majority of people working for the “mission” are not paid. However, their reward must be found in the fulfillment that comes from working with a team of people who have the same values, they know how to perform the role that is given to them and they believe that they are adding value to the fulfillment of the purpose the organization is attempting to accomplish.

In many of these organizations, too much of the “work” in the organization is left up to the full-time employees. (Senior pastor, Youth Pastor, Children’s Pastor, Music Director, Head of Administration, etc.) These staff teams are hired by the Board and the assumption is that they are to do the work of the ministry. However, scripture teaches that the role of the Pastor –Teacher, in part, is to equip the “saints” (believers) to do the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4: 11-13). Herein lies the challenge. Volunteers are not easy to work with, they come and go, they don’t always show up for key meetings or service opportunities, they are busy people and the ministry may not be their #1 priority. However, the organization is full of very talented people who, in some cases can add valuable insight and energy in order to, not only develop strategy, but also lead it. (This reminds me of the joke that says; “The church is like a football game, 22 people (American football) on the field badly in need of a rest with 50,000 people in the stands badly in need of exercise!)

The question is, “what does it take to get the congregation engaged in the work of the church or volunteer organization? Here are some areas that Adizes can assist;

  1. The role of vision in the mobilization of volunteers
  2. Understanding their management style – strengths and weaknesses and
  3. The advantage of working in complimentary teams in order to gain confidence in “ministry”
  4. Mobilize the (E) entrepreneurial strength of people within the congregation in order to come up with new strategy ideas (teach strategic forum ideas)
  5. Help the full-time staff realize that the greatest source of untapped talent lies within the congregation. (Have everyone in the congregation, who is willing, go through an MSI profile analysis)
  6. Teach the full-time staff the 8 key functions of an integrative change leader
  7. Teach the full-time staff how to lead planning and strategy development sessions
  8. Teach staff and key volunteers how to make effective decisions and how to make decisions as a team
  9. Teach staff and key volunteers the principles of implementation
  10. Teach staff and Board the principles of how to rejuvenate an ageing organization
  11. Etc., etc., etc.

One of the key issues the faith-based organization has to deal with is the conflict that exists between the full-time staff and the volunteers. The real work must be done through the volunteers and the full-time staff must become the trainers, mentors and coaches rather than doing the work themselves. It takes a lot of energy to accomplish this task and if it does not happen, the capacity of the organization to fulfill the vision will be severely restricted. This requires a culture change in the organization (from pastor led and inspired to pastor empowered) and the only way that will happen is if the Column 4/5 issues are dealt with as a team effort between volunteers and staff in such a way that the volunteers are able to take “ownership” of the issues along with the staff.

Faith and Adizes in Action

What success have you experienced working with faith-based organizations using the Adizes Methodology? What are the key takeaways for the reader?

Working with faith-based organizations is never easy. Many people want to add their voice when change is at hand. (Adizes will not get invited to the table unless change is needed! The problem is that many of these organizations do not realize that change is required.)

We have to gain the trust of the leadership in the organization in order to get through the door and the best tool to use in marketing what Adizes can do for that organization is to explain the Lifecycle and ask the team where they are on that Lifecycle (The IS). Ask them where they want to be (WANT) and then explain how Adizes can help.

An endorsement from a faith based leader is, for me, the best way to share success. The following was written after an Adizes Synergistic Diagnosis with a Church:

To whom it may concern,

I serve as a Transitional Leader in Mennonite Brethren Churches in Canada.  I have found the Adizes Methodology to be a very helpful tool in bringing a new clarity in church leadership teams, especially where there is a need to rebuild mutual trust and respect.  In a number of transitional ministry situations, I have invited Barry Bowater, an Adizes Associate to use this tool, to help leaders gain a new understanding of themselves, their strengths and weaknesses and apply this fresh awareness to intentionally developing complementary teams.

When this new understanding is applied to “the life cycle of a church” it soon becomes apparent how the styles, of both past and current leaders have significantly contributed to shaping the ministry focus of a church.  The Adizes approach also provides additional insights for what a growing, healthy future, might look like and design a new discernment template for the kind of leader(s) needed for the next step.  I strongly endorse the use of the Adizes Methodology.


Rev Aldon J Loeppky    MA

Transitional Pastor
BC Mennonite Brethren Churches
Kelowna, British Columbia


  1. Goldsmith, Stephen, William B. Eimicke, and Chris Pineda. Faith-Based Organizations Versus Their Secular Counterparts: A Primer for Local Officials. Rep. N.p.: Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard U, 2006. WEB.
  2. John L. Saxon, “Faith-Based Social Services: What are They? Are They Legal? What’s Happening in North Carolina?,” p. 6; and Helen Rose Ebaugh, Paula Pipes, Janet Saltzman Chafetz, and Martha Daniels, “Where’s the Religion? Distinguishing Faith-Based from Secular Social Service Agencies,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42 (3), 2003, pp. 412-414.
  3. Torry, Malcolm. “Managing Faith-Based and Mission Organizations.” Managing Religion: The Management of Christian Religious and Faith-Based Organizations (2014): 50-86. Web.
  4. Office of Management and Budget Guidelines. Quoted in the Corporation for National and Community Service,“FACES State Commission Toolkit: Implementing the President’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative at the Corporation for National and Community Service,” The Resource Center: Tools and Training for Volunteer and Service Programs, available at, accessed 6 December 2005.
  5. Adizes, Ichak. How to solve the mismanagement crisis. Santa Monica: Adizes Institute, 1985. Print.
  6. Martin, Anya, “From a higher cause: Faith-based organizations approach affordable housing from a scriptural spirit, but otherwise they’re not so different from any other nonprofit with a heart,” Journal of Housing and Community Development, June 2003. See also Mark Chaves and William Tsitsos, “Congregations and Social Services: What They Do, How They Do It, and With Whom,” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 30 (4), December 2001.