I lead the tutor team for the UCAN distance learning module for Church Administrators. With the closure of St John's College, Nottingham in 2020 UCAN is now partnering with Cliff College. You register for the course on the UCAN website but read on before you do that.
If you would like to read the introduction to the module, this was updated in October 2018 and is in two parts. The first gives an overview of what you need to know for your study, the second explains the three written assignments that you send in for marking to your tutor. You will also find a list of tips from the tutors for how to complete each assignment. I suggest you read all these before registering for the course.
All these materials are currently in the process of being updated and rebranded for our new partnership with Cliff College.
To register for the course now, click this link for the UCAN application form.
The work of a Church Administrator
A ten-unit distance learning module leading to an award.
A nationally recognised course of study prepared for Christians employed by a local church as a Church Administrator in some form.
This module has been prepared to offer a rigorous but highly practical foundation in the subject of office-based local church administration in the UK.
Students who complete the module will have a qualification that shows their church, and any future churches they move to, that they understand and can apply principles of organisational management within a theological understanding of a local church context.
For further details see the Introduction paper web-linked above.
Who should undertake this module?
It has been prepared for local church Administrators, most of whom will work in a church office, or those who wish to take up a post of this kind. Many will be employed by their church part-time though some will be in full time employment. It assumes a reasonable level of organisational skill and Bible knowledge. It has not been designed for posts at a more senior level such as Operations Managers although all the material would still be relevant for them. UCAN also runs a course entitled 'Managing church well' which is accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management and aimed at UCAN senior manager members.
Do I need to be a member of UCAN?
You do not need to be a member of the UK Church Administrators Network to undertake this module but if you are employed as a local church Administrator it will be to your advantage to join if you are not already in membership. Course feels are discounted for UCAN members. Here is their website.
What does the module involve?
This is a ten unit module which can be taken in your own time at your own pace. Each unit takes one topic of relevance to working for a church as an Administrator and provides
- a study section with vital input relating to your work or the church office plus some exercises to complete;
- recommendations for background reading in both secular and church-based spheres – in particular you will be expected to follow one standard NVQ textbook;
a range of personal applications: Bible study, meditations, practical exercises, visits, working with a mentor.
Do I have to submit essays for marking?
There are, in addition to the ten units, three written assignments to be submitted to demonstrate that you are understanding the study material and able to apply it to your work. One consists of a self-reflection on your role as an enabler of others in their ministry, there is a main essay to compare and contrast commercial office management with church administrative practices, and the third consists of a write-up of a practical assignment based on visits to two churches other than your own.
What sort of topics are covered?
The ten units cover the possible roles of a Church Administrator, building people-skills, running a church office, being well organised, working with others, communicating well, designing systems, handling files and personal development. One unit focuses on relevant biblical material.
How much time do I need to set aside?
Each unit is expected to take you at least 12 hours in study, background reading and personal application, but it is up to you how much more you give to particular topics. So think in terms, perhaps, of completing the module plus written assignments in one year giving five hours a week to it with holiday breaks. We expect you to complete within 18 months or pay a continuation fee. For those employed by their church, we hope that you will be allowed to undertake some of the material within work time (though not in the church office with all its interruptions!).
What time of year do I need to start work?
You can start at any time to suit you.
What level is it pitched at?
The basic textbook that you will be asked to study as part of the module is at NVQ Level 3 and the study material has been pitched at about this same level.
Is it just for Anglicans?
Not at all – the material does not assume a single denominational base and so does not go into detail on issues that might affect one denomination rather than others, such as graveyard administration, faculty applications, etc. One of the units gives scope for exploration within areas of special relevance to your own church or denomination.
Will I be able to cope?
The material does not assume any tertiary education qualifications but to complete the module you will need determination and discipline to set aside the time for study, reading and note-taking. But if you already work as a Church Administrator you should find real excitement in learning more about the kind of issues that you deal with day to day.
Will I be on my own?
Your tutor will be available throughout the module. You might also decide to take the module at the same time as another local Administrator so you can share your experiences.
What are the aims of the course?
We have three clear aims.
- To enable you come to a clear understanding of the role, opportunities and challenges of this understated subject.
- To help you improve your business capability and performance in a number of skill areas relevant to your work.
- To encourage you to develop a creative mind in devising systems and solving problems within your work.
But we also have a wider vision of setting a standard of achievement for UK Church Administrators that will be widely recognised, and seeing such work become accepted as a discipline worthy of analysis and study.
Why should I bother?
Because as a result of completing these ten units you can expect to
- Be energised and encouraged in your work.
- Be better equipped to fulfil your responsibilities in a professional way.
- Understand your work as Christian service not just daily employment.
Be enabled to work collaboratively with church leaders to free them for their ministry.
What’s the cost?
The module costs £375 with a 15% discount for UCAN members. This includes registration, course materials, the marking of the three projects you submit and the involvement of a tutor throughout. In addition you will need to purchase a copy of the course textbook at about £35. We very much hope that your church will pay for you to take the module as they will receive the benefit of all that it gives. UCAN maintains a small bursary fund to help support individual post-holders or churches who do not have resources to pay the fee in full.
Can I talk it over with you and ask questions?
Of course. If you want to discuss the content before coming to a decision, contact the author of the material, John Truscott, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
So how do I apply?
Click this link to be taken to the relevant UCAN page.
What do people who have seen the material say?
This module, designed for anyone employed by their local church as their Administrator or anyone who aspires to such a role, enables the student to develop best practice in running a church office. Students engage with contemporary administration theory and practice and apply this to the church setting as well as looking specifically at different areas of church organisation.
Students are required to apply all they learn to their own setting and need to be able to reflect on their experience to take the module. The module is designed to transform the working lives of all those involved in this vital but understated ministry.
Dr Andy Angel, formerly Vice-Principal of St John’s College, Nottingham
I think it’s great and I am glad that this subject is being taken seriously – you are treating the participants as adults and giving them the core skills to be really good administrators – rather than somebody just doing a job
The Revd Jennifer Cole MBA School of Formation - Diocese of Bath & Wells
The course is clearly based on learning what the Bible says to us as servants, leaders and administrators as well as focusing on proven administrative tools and good practice. Scope to reflect on one's own situation is embedded throughout the materials, enabling participants to compare their situation with other business and churches, supported in this by the extensive materials in the resource bank.
We all have a responsibility to develop our God given skills and serve him with them. I'm excited by the potential of this course to support Church Administrators in developing their professional skills and providing even better service within their church's team.
John Williams Team Leader – Administration at Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church
What do students say?
The course gave me structure, focus and purpose. I realised how important the role of Church Administrator is to the ministry of the church and freeing the Vicar to do his or her job. It was humbling to see my role as a spiritual gift from God.
The most exciting and life changing part of the course was the unit on filing. Yes, filing!! My desk now no longer looks like a bomb site or covered in a pile of post-it notes. The congregation are not allowed to clutter my desk with their 'lost property'.
It was difficult to fit the extra course work into my everyday life – but it was well worth it. I would highly recommend this course to any Church Administrator. It will transform your life as well as the church you work for.
Ginny Nicholls Parish Administrator, St Andrew’s, Burgess Hill
As a Methodist Circuit Administrator I had some concerns that the course might not quite fit my needs but to my delight I discovered that it was adaptable to my denomination and a slightly different office environment and therefore entirely relevant to my role.
The coursework was challenging and practical. Everything I studied proved a helpful reflection on how I manage things both in the office and theologically. The three marked assignments in particular required a good deal of personal reflection and I found that I spent at least twice as long as the recommended amount of time on each of them.
The course has encouraged further learning, improved my work environment and communication channels, helped me make some valuable ecumenical contacts and completing it has given me a great sense of accomplishment.
Leisa Young, Circuit Administrator, Preston Ribble Methodist Circuit
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