Some people have raised questions over issues of transparency and accountability in churches. They are raising the questions because some faith leaders are running churches as if they were personal estates. Our reporter WATIPASO MZUNGU JNR asks acting executive director of the Institute of Church Management (ICM) Dr Winston Kawale on the steps the organisation is taking to improve transparency and accountability in churches and faith-based organisations.
What is ICM and how was it born?
ICM is a registered interdenominational organisation established to equip churches with management skills. The church in Malawi has provided unprecedented evangelistic and socio-economic development services over the years. However, the church and church-related organisations are experiencing various administrative and management challenges. These challenges resulted in some of the churches and church-based organisations being ineffective and inefficient in the delivery of services.
After intensive consultations with various stakeholders, it was decided that to help these churches and church-based organisations, ICM be formed to offer Christ-centred and inclusive services to all churches, denominations and church-based organisations in Malawi.
What is the vision and mission of the institute?
The vision of ICM is to enable the church and church-related organisations become credible and serve with dignity. The organisation’s mission is to improve management and administrative skills in churches and church-based organisations so that they operate effectively, efficiently, and are seen to be accountable and transparent.
How will you achieve your objectives?
ICM will provide training in various church-related topics in church administration and general management issues. The areas we are interested to cover include corporate governance, strategic planning, project management, financial management and anti-corruption.
We will also be offering courses in human rights, conflict management, HIV and Aids management, gender, procurement and supply management, governance and democracy, just to mention a few. On request, ICM will provide consultancy services to evaluate, assess and analyse church administration and management after which we will be recommending improved performance. Our activities will be based on 2 Timothy 3:17, which reads: “…the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.”
What damage has this lack or absence of management skills among the clergy done on the church?
It has been quite huge. I believe you might have heard of some people leaving one church after the other in search of transparent and accountable leadership. In some cases, there have been conflicts in the church without knowledge on how to resolve them. ICM has come to provide conflict management courses to equip the church with skills for managing these conflicts, thereby reducing the damage. You also need to appreciate that as a mother of the Malawi nation, the church must be seen to be transparent and accountable for leaders of different sectors to learn from.
As Malawi is suffering from the infamous cashgate disease, the church must assume the role of a dietician to bring to life our ailing economy. But that cannot happen unless faith leaders take it upon themselves to live by the virtues of transparency and accountability.
In case some church want to benefit from your services, what conditions will they have to satisfy?
We don’t have much conditions churches or organisations will need to satisfy. Individual churches and organisations shall be free to invite ICM to perform these services at the venues of their choice.
Do you charge for your services?
Those interested in our services will be required to pay a small fee. You may wish to appreciate that these courses are also being offered at the Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) and in Kenya, but at very high costs. Realising the economic challenges most churches face, ICM decided to bring the same content at cheaper rates. Our aim is not to make money, but offer services that will bring glory to God.