Certainly Drucker's principles of management - or principles deriving from those who learned from him - have affected the Church in America, and not always in positive ways. The Church is not an organization in the true sense; it's actually more of an organism. Church leaders err when they forget this and try to impose whatever management ideas may be fashionable on the task of leading a local congregation. At the same time, Drucker, like Moses' father-in-law in Exodus 18, identified useful principles for helping churches to realize more of their potential. But even Drucker's views - wildly successful though they have been - must be filtered through the Scriptures before they are put to use in building the Church.
The Economist points out four reasons why Drucker was so successful for nearly 60 years. First, he identified a need when few people acknowledged the discipline of management even existed. He spoke to that need, teasing out its intricacies and helping people to see a fuzzy issue with greater clarity. Second, he demonstrated his truth claims from a wide range of disciplines and historical epochs, thus persuading managers that his principles carried a certain objective reliability. Third, he resisted fashionable trends in managment and stuck to what he could demonstrate from a broad spectrum and long line of examples. Finally, he communicated clearly and in a relevant manner to those tasked with leading businesses and corporations.
These four reasons for Drucker's success could benefit church leaders as much as anything he ever wrote on management. We have truth to declare, and even though few want to hear it; yet we know it is precisely what they need. We can show the truth of our claims from a wide range of cultures and time periods, disciplines and endeavors. The truth we proclaim remains the same yesterday, today, and forever, and thus we must hold fast to it in preference to fashionable spiritual trends. Finally, we must learn to speak clearly and in terms relevant to everyday situations to show the power of our views to make all things new.
Drucker is not very exciting reading, but he makes good points. His life, however, is perhaps a better model than his theories for how church leaders might begin to navigate the ship of the Church out of the doldrums and back into the strong currents of contemporary society.
T. M. Moore