Apostle Adetunji Adepoju is the Chief Executive Officer of Eden Global Business School and International Institute for Revival and management. He spoke with Church Times Nigeria on the strategic place of management in the church. Below are excerpts:
For how long have you been into leadership and management training? And why are you into training?
I have been doing this for 14 years now. It was actually a direct mandate from the Lord at the prayer mountain. The Lord told me he wants me to develop capacity in ministry. God said to me he did not have problem with Church multiplication but he has problem with leadership multiplication. He said to me that the rate at with churches are growing far outstrip the way leaders are growing. Around that year, my leadership training began with Church Growth Development Ministry. I was a director of training in the ministry. We collaborate with church leaders, train leaders and workers in those churches. Over the years I have had to increase my capacity and competence by getting certification. I also discovered that when I wanted to register one or two leadership institutions, my certifications and trainings were not recognised by the Corporate Affairs Commission and had little value in the market place, that made us to begin to seek collaboration with existing institutions both academic and professional like the Olabisi Onabanjo University Consultancy services, University of Ibadan and International Professional Managers Association in UK where I got certified as International Manager. We had another Institute of Data Processing of Nigeria and then Caleb University. We have been trying to build a robust academic and ministerial training that will impact on the church and the society through our collaborations with this institutions.
You have been training church leaders and business owners for about 14 years. What were the initial observations when you began the training and what has been the experience?
We have had exciting and interesting times. But I must confess that we are still evolving. I believe in the bamboo approach to development; a situation where you are firmly rooted before blossoming and that takes quite a while. When God wants to take you up, he has to take you down first. We have experienced that in the last 14 years. I can now say we have the capacity to deliver world class management solution in any organisation.
At the initial stage of our operations we had a narrow perspective, then we saw it from the organisation perspective and then we soon saw the global picture. We have also found out that every problem in life is a management problem. We started by looking at the issues from the point of view of subject matter but now we know everything is management. Genesis 1v28 tells us the purpose of man which is to manage the resources that God has put in his care. Management is about multiplication of resources, minimisation of disorder and maintenance of order. These three parameter hold across all organisations. If you can handle these areas effectively, then you would have solved a lot of management problems. We have grown over the years. A student once asked me how I was able to come up with effective management principles and I told him I have had over 20,000 hours of study and practice in the area of management.
How bad is the problem of management in the church?
There is no separate world for the church and society. The dichotomy between the two only exist in the brain not real. So it’s not about how bad management is in the church, it is about how bad the system that produces church and society leader is. Everybody building the society and the church are victims of our educational system. If you look at the story of secular education in Nigeria beginning from the University of Ibadan which just clocked 70, it was not to develop the economy and improve our industries. It was designed to prepare foundational clerks. You can’t manage resources very well without having management competent skill and experience. The whole society is a victim of our educational deficiency syndrome. There is no correlation between the certificate graduates are parading and their productivity. Our educational system is geared towards raising labourers not producers. Most of our educational activity are centrally controlled. There is a need to re-evaluate our educational system. I will not bash the church because church leaders are products of a dysfunctional system.
Is it a problem of lack of proper education or lack of character when it comes to management in the church?
Education is all encompassing. You will discover that almost all those who make money are connected to the government in this part of the world. But in the developed society it is as a result of goods and services that people produce. You are not educated until our education contributes to the GDP of the society. But here we are compensating our lack of capacity with corruption that is why we have character problem. Everybody is either telling one lie or the other. I am not trying to generalise but the prevailing current is corruption because of a faulty educational system. The creative people are not surviving because the system is not designed to be transparent and it’s not entrepreneurial. All our problem are essentially educational. The trend has to change. We need a productive, self-improving educational system for us to birth a good society. But unfortunately between the consumer and producer there is no meeting point to discover what is really needed for the good of the society.
But there are people who have been to the best schools in the world but still fail in terms of management. Why is this so?
I must also say that it’s not just knowing but implementing what we know. Management will fail when planning fails. But then you have to be able to formulate plans that are implementable and pragmatic. Every plan is based on information available. As a manager if the information you used to plan is deficient you have already failed. Managers don’t fail in the field; they fail in the planning room. Every information failure is an analysis failure. Every analysis failure is a data failure. Every data failure is a research failure. Every research failure is a methodology failure. Every methodology failure is a proposal failure. Every proposal failure is an educational failure. So we need to look at the quality of the education because it is at the root of it all.
What if somebody has an excellent plan but lacks the will power to implement the plans?
Then that person is not a good manager. A manager performs five functions. They are planning, organising, directing, controlling and staffing. A failure in any of these five management functions is a failure of the manager. That is the area where we have core competence. We are trying to train some managers now on how to harness information and data.
But how do you integrate the peculiarity of every organisation with the principles of management?
When you go through the anal of management the parameters are the same. There could be variations but the moment you get the strategic planning template wrong the whole system will be wrong. We have the straight environment and the dangerous environment. While we expect things to be normal we plan for the worse. When you look at countries like the US, they plan ahead. There are two ways of living. It’s either you live accidentally or live strategically. A competent strategic manager has to plan for chaotic environment. The reason why we experience problem is because we plan for only safe straight environment. A competent strategic manager who plans for a chaotic environment will not be caught napping because he had already planned for unforeseen circumstances.
Why do you think some churches collapse despite their seeming strength and capacity?
The collapse of a church is the collapse of management. Jesus did not establish a church in the sense of our modern day definition of church. He only put in place a management structure. There are four levels of leadership structure that a church must have which Jesus laid down. They are Foundational, operational and strategic and management levels. Any church that does not have such is dead on arrival. Jesus had the foundation workers which were the 120. He had the operational workers which were the 70. He had the managerial which were the 12 and he had the strategic which were the three. The strategic management team of Jesus comprises of James Peter and John. He built an organisation that will last based on world class management and I think any church that wants to maintain growth and remain relevant must have these four levels of management.
But there are churches that collapsed on moral grounds like sex allegations against leaders of those churches?
If moral flaws can kill churches secular organisations should not survive in the first place.
But they are two different thing. The moment members of some churches hear their lead pastor is involved in some moral issues like sex, they take off?
The reason is because such churches have no structure in place. The reason they fail is because the whole management is concentrated on the leaders. In non-for profit organisation there should be separation of powers and people can look forward to leadership. Imagine if James was the only strategic leader of the apostles everybody would scatter after he was beheaded by Herod. The messianic syndrome is a problem in the church. It kills churches faster than anything. Every organisational failure is a management failure.
Jesus gave us a model to follow. A church will not collapse when the leadership is solid. A leader is not called to raise followers they are called to raise leaders. When I look at most big churches, I see that some of them are dead while seen to be existing. It’s only a matter of time they will collapse. The Lord Jesus produced his own leadership from bottom up. John the beloved started as an ordinary apostle but he was the closest to Jesus. What is happening is that many churches don’t have an evolving self-sustaining system. If they are able to put this kind of things in place they will not have problems evolving a seamless pattern of administration.
So what exactly is your mission at the Eden Global Consults
We are fully committed to raise strategic leaders to certify them and deploy them. We run programmes with world class certification. We also are able to create short term management and training programme for managers, church workers and leaders. Our vision is to bridge the management gap in the church system and businesses. We believe a good manager should be able to manage resources, minimize disorder and maintain order.