Wednesday, May 8, 2024

What's wrong with the Episcopal Church?

As a result of declining attendance and giving, driven partly its emphasis on politics instead of ministry, administration costs have risen to 60% of revenue, way above the recommended 40%.
Throughout the church, parishes and dioceses are being asked to do more with less, except at the top levels, where [the Episcopal Church] now spends more on church chancellors than evangelism.

And when the General Convention directed that Church HQ relocate from New York City to a cheaper location, the NY-based administrators simply ignored the directive.

Lets run this through our problem-solving algorithm:
  1. Who made the bad decision?  Church administrators decided to stay in NYC.  
  2. Did they have enough information to make a good decision?  Yes.
  3. Did they have the incentive to do so?  No.  They put their own lifestyle preferences ahead of the Epicopal Church's.  We can infer that church administrators have decision rights over the costs they incur, but not the incentives to make good decisions for the church.  
OK, now that we have identified the problem, lets try two obvious solutions:
  1. Give decision rights to someone else;  One suggestion from Rev. Everett Lees, almost as if he had read Managerial Economics: A Problem Solving Approach, is to decentralize decision making to individual parishes and reduce the 15% Episcopal franchise fee down to 10%.  When you decentralize decision making, strengthen incentives, i.e., by letting parishes keep more of what they make.  
  2. Better align Church Administrator incentives with those of the individual parishes.  However, because church administrators are so far removed from the concerns of individual parishes, it is hard to imagine a good performance metric.

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