Fall 2015

Charles Zech

Welcome Remarks

Charles Zech
Faculty Director, Center for Church Management & Business Ethics

Welcome to the Fall 2015 edition of Villanova’s Center for Church Management and Business Ethics Newsletter. 

In this edition we cover three topics: how a parish should react in the face of a lawsuit, how to create a performance driven parish, and the results of a survey that examined the extent to which parishes offer a variety of ministries to their parishioners.

Patricia Rizzo is an adjunct professor in Villanova’s MS in Church Management program and also a presenter in our webinar Church Management Certificate program. Pat teaches our courses on civil law for parishes. In her article “So your Church Has Been Sued…Now What?” she presents some practical steps that a parish might take in responding to a law suit. In this litigious age, it might be that it is only a matter of time until a parish is sued. Knowing how to proceed, and avoiding some common pitfalls, is tremendously important in minimizing the outcome of a lawsuit.

Michael Castrilli is also an adjunct professor in our MS in Church Management program and, like Pat, is a presenter in our Church Management Certificate program. Michael teaches pastoral planning and finance. He has been a frequent contributor to our newsletter. In this volume he tackles the issue of achieving parish goals by developing a performance management system. He points out how valuable this process can be, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or labor intensive. Creating a performance management system is simply good stewardship.

Our regular look at data, “And The Survey Says”, looks at the issue of parish offerings of a variety of ministries. Among the conclusions are that, while almost every parish offers programs such as religious education for children, relatively few make the effort to offer ministries intended for the disabled or for young adults.

Finally, Jim Gallo, our Center Director, provides some information on some exciting initiatives that have been undertaken by the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics.

I would like to remind you of the educational opportunities available through the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics. There is still time to apply for this year’s class in our very successful on-line master’s degree in church management ( awarded through the nationally-ranked and fully accredited Villanova School of Business. You might be interested to know that US News & World Reports has ranked our MS in Church Management as the 6th best online program in the country among ALL graduate business programs.

We also, in partnership with Our Sunday Visitor and AmericanChurch, offer a series of webinars on church management topics. This series presents the opportunity for an individual to earn a certificate in church management through the Villanova School of Business. The series began its fifth year in September, but it is not too late to join us. Individuals interested in particular topics may participate in one or more of the specific webinars without pursuing the certificate. For more details, see here.

We hope that you find the information in this newsletter useful. We appreciate your previous feedback and are happy to hear your feedback about the topics covered in this issue as well as topics that you would like to see covered in future issues.

So, Your Church Has Been Sued... Now What?

Patricia Rizzo, J.D., M.A.

The day-to-day business of running a parish certainly includes planning and concerns about liturgies, programs, perhaps school students, sometimes employees, and from time to time, litigation. Under the best of circumstances, litigation should be such an unusual occurrence that when it appears, it is something with which the parish business manager, the school principal, or the pastor really has no experience, because the parish has been doing the right thing, and has engaged in prudent practices for all of its activities - safe premises maintained; careful hiring and training of employees, clergy and volunteers; sound business practices followed; professional tax advice utilized. Under the best of circumstances also, the parish business manager, the school principal and the pastor are alert and astute enough to recognize the acorn of any problematic event before it becomes the oak tree of a law suit. Better still, there is ongoing vigilance to prevent such events from taking place. But what if even with close attention to physical plant and personnel, budgets and business activities, congregants and committees, something bad happens, and the parish is named as a defendant in a law suit? Now what?

Before we explore what will happen once a suit is filed however, we might find it helpful to consider what a church needs to do during that important period from when the event triggering litigation takes place, through to the filing of the matter in court. It is highly unlikely, but not impossible, that a church’s first notice that there is some kind of problem would be in the form of service of process for a law suit. This would be out of the ordinary though, because in all likelihood, someone at the church was a witness to the event which is at the base of the litigation, e.g., a person having fallen on the premises, an employee having been involved in an accident, a theft of resources or an allegation of abuse.  In most instances, some event which occurred would have immediately caused the parish administration to view the matter as a potential lawsuit. 

If a church is sued, it enjoys the same rights and responsibilities in the civil justice system as any other defendant, nothing more and nothing less. In a small number of states, churches to some extent may be protected from suits, but in the vast majority of states, a church can be sued for the same reasons as anyone else. Once an event occurs which could be the basis for legal action against the church, administration must be meticulous in its record keeping, and likewise can destroy or alter no evidence of any kind – real or virtual. It will be in this record keeping that the policies and training practices of the parish will be put to the test: have parish employees and volunteers been accurately trained to report all potential litigation matters to their supervisor and/or the pastor? Are the proper parties in the parish being notified whenever a triggering event occurs?  Once advised that something happened which could develop into a lawsuit, it is the responsibility of parish administration to make a report to its insurance carrier and other officials to whom the parish must report. It is critical that the report of an incident be made in a timely manner. Many insurance policies have requirements for the manner and timeliness for reporting incidents, and a parish business manager needs to be thoroughly familiar with the parish’s liability policies. If it is the practice and procedure of the parish to make an internal report of an incident which occurs on the premises or which involves an employee or volunteer, parish administration must be certain to follow these practices, and complete the report. Such a report of an incident, if usually completed as part of the course of business for the parish, could be discoverable during litigation, meaning that the other side will be able to see it. It is a dangerous practice however, to deviate from the usual and customary practices, and issues surrounding completion of an incident report should be discussed with your attorney. 

Once the parish insurance carrier is advised of a potential claim, a waiting period begins, during which the parish will learn whether or not the injured party intends to file a lawsuit. Your insurance carrier can discuss with you the applicable statute of limitations period, that is, the amount of time during which an injured party is given under law to come forward and commence litigation. With personal injuries and other types of matters, the time varies from state to state, but a typical amount of time is two years.  Some states have a one year statute for personal injury, and others have a three year statute. Matters such as claims for wrongful discharge may have different statutes of limitation.

Generally speaking, a two year statute of limitations period means that an injured person has two years from the date on which the alleged injury occurs, or on which the person becomes aware of the injury, to begin a law suit. How the suit is begun also varies from state to state. In some jurisdictions, a plaintiff can begin the law suit by filing a summons, which merely alerts the defendant to the fact that a law suit is filed, and that a complaint, identifying the exact allegations or claims, will be filed. In other states, a plaintiff must begin suit by filing a complaint. Once either a summons or complaint is filed and served properly on the defendant-church, the church must again advise its insurance carrier that there is now a suit. The insurer will then provide the church with an attorney who will represent the church in the matter. Typically, the defendant-church will not have a choice in the selection of the attorney, but rather will simply be assigned counsel.

It is important to build a good rapport with your defense counsel. You will be working with this lawyer and law firm for the time it will take for the case to come to court, and it is not unusual for a matter to take two years from filing to time of trial. It is also important to remember that the lawyer works for you, not the other way around. Your defense counsel will also have many cases to handle at the same time, each of which will be at a different place in the pipeline moving towards trial. At the beginning of the lawsuit, you will hear from your attorney, and then there may be a long period in which there might not be any communication. This does not mean that your lawyer is not working on your case; on the contrary, based on the information supplied in the initial interviews with the parish personnel, your lawyer will be gathering information and documents and identifying witnesses.

At a certain point, defense counsel will begin to ask the plaintiff for information, and likewise, the plaintiff’s counsel will be seeking information from you. This is the discovery phase, during which each side is permitted to ask for pertinent information and documents from the other side. Depending on how complicated the case is, or how extensive the damages are, this discovery phase can be long or short. You can anticipate that your parish administrators will be asked to answer written questions, called “interrogatories”. Relevant parish administrators, employees, volunteers may also be asked to appear for a personal interview, called a “deposition”, and answer questions posed by plaintiff’s counsel. For both the interrogatories and the depositions, defense counsel will assist with answers, and will thoroughly prepare you for your deposition. Your attorney will also object to answering those questions which she believes are objectionable. You should feel that you can contact your attorney with your questions and concerns at any point during this road to trial, and certainly when you are about to provide information through interrogatories and depositions.

After the discovery phase ends, there may be another period during which you will not hear from your attorney. It is important to remember that as your matter moves through the pipeline, there will be cases which your lawyer is handling which are ahead of yours, and behind. Your defense counsel will at times be directing more attention to other matters because things are happening in those cases. Likewise, there will come a time when your case will be front and center, and you may be speaking with your lawyer on nearly a daily basis.  As the time for trial draws closer, the topic of settling the case or resolving it through alternate means should be discussed. Lawyers typically do not discuss settling a case until the case is nearly ready for court. Part of the reason for this is that until the discovery is completed, both sides do not know the relevant facts, including the extent of the injuries being claimed. Only when there is an accurate understanding of the value of a case can there be meaningful settlement discussions.

Additionally, once discovery is complete, the parties may determine that instead of waiting for a court date, they have an interest in alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”). ADR is available in both state and federal litigation as a means of having the parties resolve disputes without a court and trial. The two main varieties of ADR are mediation and arbitration. Mediation is a process in which the parties, with the assistance of a mediator ( typically a lawyer), craft a resolution to the dispute. A mediation generally takes one day, and involves the participation of the parties, their lawyers, and submission of evidence such as medical reports, personnel records and other types of evidence. There are no witnesses testifying. The mediator facilitates the discussion, but unlike a judge, does not reach a conclusion; the parties do this themselves. An arbitration is a private trial. An arbitrator (again, typically a lawyer or retired judge) holds a shortened trial, during which testimony is presented. The arbitration can be concluded in a single day, or over several days. This is in contrast to a jury trial, which can sometimes take several or more weeks. Choosing ADR means that the parties do not need to take off multiple days from work, as they would need to do for a jury trial. With a jury trial, the parties must be present each and every day in court.  There usually is a fee to be paid for both mediation and arbitration, and the parties divide the cost among themselves. With ADR, the parties also need not wait for a judge to assign a trial date. Instead, the parties can have the convenience of choosing the date for the mediation or arbitration. With ADR, legal bills are also smaller, as attorneys can spend fewer hours preparing for a mediation than for a trial. While legal bills for defendants are typically assumed by the insurance carrier, the carrier is obviously interested in paying less for counsel. ADR is something which you should discuss with your lawyer, who will be able to evaluate with you the pros and cons of taking your matter to an arbitration or mediation.

Sometimes, even with the use of ADR, the matter fails to resolve, and so, you will again be facing a trial date. Your attorney will continue preparing you and the church witnesses for court. But at some point, perhaps shortly before the trial is set to start, perhaps even once trial has begun, she will approach you to discuss settlement. Because defendants pay the damages, defense counsel usually will not approach the plaintiff to settle the case. Rather, your lawyer will wait until she receives a demand for settlement from the plaintiff’s attorney. At that point, your lawyer is obligated under the rules of professional conduct to discuss settlement with you. If you do have an insurance carrier, the discussion must also include them. Your lawyer is precluded from settling the case without approval from both your insurance carrier and from you, if that is what your policy states. You should be familiar with the provisions of your policy as to who has settlement authority. Defense counsel will be able to advise as to whether the amount demanded is reasonable or not, and also what an appropriate counter offer should be. You should be sure that all of your questions about settlement are fully answered.

If settlement does not resolve the matter, you will be proceeding to trial. Your lawyer will fully prepare you to testify over a series of sessions. Again, if you or any parish witnesses have questions, you must be certain that you have answers and that you are fully confident in testimony which the defense will be producing.

To be sued can be an emotionally exhausting, time-consuming, anxiety-producing process, disruptive to the regular work and mission of a church. Having best practices in place in all areas of management of a parish will work to reduce the likelihood of litigation. If litigation arrives however, knowing what to expect, having confidence in counsel, and cooperating with counsel will go a long way towards minimizing the negative aspects of a lawsuit.

Creating a Performance-Driven Parish

Michael J. Castrilli

Introduction to Performance Management Systems

A performance management system is a coordinated and collaborative method to create, measure, track, and achieve parish goals. An effective performance management system will hold the parish accountable for ensuring that parish priorities are in fact accomplished. This type of system creates a performance-driven parish because all members of the team are on the same page in terms of direction, priorities, progress, and accountability.  

Do you remember in elementary school when the teacher would send home a progress report? The progress report would include commentary about coursework, skill development and behavior.  The report typically offered commentary on student performance and was sent home early enough in the quarter or semester to allow you to make adjustments prior to the final grade.  The purpose of a performance management system has a similar objective.  In order to track progress, a structure must be in place to track progress and offer (should it be necessary) an advanced warning system for adjustments. Therefore, the system can help the parish achieve a grade of A+ as it relates to accomplishing goals! 

There are multiple benefits to enacting a performance management system. An effective performance measurement system: 

  • Provides a clear notion of “success” for parish activities
  • Creates a consistent way to communicate results
  • Provides performance information to effectively manage programs and initiatives
  • Builds ownership and accountability
  • Presents opportunity to motivate continuously improving performance
  • Adds value at all levels and all aspects of the organization

Creating a performance management system can be simple. It does not have to be a complex, labor intensive undertaking.  However, like budgeting and finance, the key is to success is to learn the language/terminology and then start small and right size the system for your parish organization.

I. Performance Management Fundamentals

My experience with performance management terminology is that various organizations use different ways to describe terms. For example, some organizations do not make distinctions between performance measures and targets or between measures and metrics. You will notice, there is no universal description of the performance management terms discussed below, just some general guidelines and best practices. Like many parish management concepts the key is to ensure that you have defined and clarified terms. 

To assist us in the process of reviewing terms, it may be helpful to think of these concepts in a flipped pyramid structure (Figure 1).   Each layer of the structure builds upon the other. 

Figure 1
Performance Management Pyramid

Fall 2015 Table 1

A. Aligning Goals and Outcomes

Goals are the desired results and outcomes that the parish is trying to achieve. Goals provide the parish community with a clear notion of success and a transparent way to talk about results. Goals are statements/descriptions of what the parish hopes to accomplish and achieve. Tied explicitly to parish mission and vision, goals are written with active verbs that emphasize the action associated with executing the goal.

As you get started on goal setting, you may find it helpful to begin by connecting parish mission and vision with the outcomes you are looking to achieve.  I will explore four common goals categories and outcomes: strategic, programmatic, operational, and financial goals.  This is not to say that there are not other categories, but thinking about goals in this format can help connect the dots between priorities, resources, and performance. 

Note that these categories are not mutually exclusive but are often combined in support of one or the other.  

Strategic Outcomes

Strategic outcomes are results that are focused on direct alignment between parish mission and vision. Strategic goals can be set for any time period but are typically established with a focus on longer-term (more than twelve months) needs. To develop strategic goals it is important that the parish has conducted an assessment of the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (risks) in order to then look forward.  As part of this assessment the parish community can review parish mission and vision statements and discern whether any changes/refinements are required. Once this is assessment is complete, the parish can begin visioning what is needed for the future. 

Programmatic Outcomes

Programmatic outcomes are established to ensure the critical success factors necessary for an effective parish program, initiative, and/or event. Understanding the results/outcomes for programs is a great way to justify funding and align program resources to meet parish goals. 

Operational Outcomes

Operational outcomes are focused around results related to processes, procedures, and actions that create efficiency and/or effectiveness. Examples of operational outcomes include improvements in quality, speed, and reliability for operational tasks and/or responsibilities. Outcomes may also include improvements in human capital, asset management (facilities, information technology) and the acquisition of goods and services. 

Financial Outcomes

Financial outcomes connect anticipated outcomes related to budget, financial management, and resource allocation.  Examples may include projected costs savings, cost avoidance, or an increase in revenue for a given area. 

B. Connecting Objectives and Activities

Once goals and outcomes have been established, objectives and activities are developed. Objectives are statements that describe how you plan to accomplish a goal. Activities are the concrete actions that you will take to make the goal a reality. 

The performance pyramid displayed above (Figure 1) displays the relationship between goals, objectives and activities. We can’t have one without the other or the pyramid breaks. Let’s use the example of a new parish faith formation program to help us go from theory into practice. 

Faith Formation Program Goal/Objective/Activity

Assume the Director of Faith Formation has proposed this program to develop and foster spiritual growth through word and worship, parish programs, and communal events at the parish. Table 1 displays the goal, objective and activity that the Director developed.

Table 1
Sample Goal, Objective, Activity
Parish Adult Faith Formation Program 

Fall 2015 Table 1

As you can see, I have decided to display this information in a tabular format. I recommend that you develop your performance management system in a similar format. This structure will be used as the building block for the performance dashboard we discuss below. 

C. Developing Performance Measures, Metrics and Targets

Once goals have been set and objectives/activities established, performance measures, metrics and targets are developed. To understand the connection between a measure, metric, and target think of yardstick.  The yardstick is used to measure a distance between two points and the markings on the yardstick indicate how the measurement will be made.  The same is true for performance measures, metrics and targets.  The performance measure (yardstick) is what you will use to evaluate progress. The metric is the unit of measure marked on the yardstick (inch, centimeter, etc.). A performance target is the anticipated distance you hope to achieve.  For programs, initiatives, and/or events that have already been established or ongoing, the term baseline is used for the current point from which performance will be measured.  

Table 2
Sample Performance Measure, Metric, and Target
Parish Adult Faith Formation Program

Fall 2015 Table 2

D. Establishing Timeframe and Point of Contact

Establishing a timeframe for expected performance results is critically important. Brainstorm the best estimate for when goals can be achieved. No need to get too caught up with perfection – a good estimate will suffice. 

You will also want to assign a specific individual as the point of contact for each established performance measure. It’s easy for everyone to point to another for missing a target or a deadline when no individual is responsible.  For each performance goal, you can appoint a leader to answer questions and report progress.  In most cases, this leader will be the person held responsible if the performance goal achievement falls behind schedule.  But she or he will also get the credit, if it’s completed successfully and on time! By developing timelines around performance goals and a specific individuals responsible for achieving an established outcome, you create a system of accountability.  The goal is to make this an empowering process where individuals feel accountable and empowered to meet shared goals. 

Table 3
Sample Timeframe and Point of Contact
Parish Adult Faith Formation Program

Fall 2015 Table 3

Now that we have discussed the elements of the performance management system, we can create a performance dashboard that will consolidating the information and establish a tracking mechanism to stay on track.  

II. Performance Dashboards

Performance dashboards assist you in tracking all of the elements of the performance management system we have discussed above. Think about the dashboard in your car. The objective of a dashboard is to give visibility into real-time data of current speed, mileage, level of fuel, and equipment functioning. The gauges and indicators are created in order to ensure that your car is performing at its best and also warn you when something requires your attention. For example, the fuel indicator light may flash yellow or red and make a beeping sound prior to your car running out of gas. Other times you turn on the car and see the dreaded service light/indicator or low-tire pressure. Notice that the system alerts you well before you are out of fuel or your car breaks down! The indicator gives you advanced warning so that you have time to find a gas station or go to a repair shop.

A performance dashboard works in the same way as your car’s dashboard. It provides you a quick and simple way to view performance data and information. The performance dashboard provides an ongoing, updated view of how the strategy, program, operation etc. is progressing as it relates to the goals, objectives, activities etc. that you have been established. The dashboard also offers an advanced warning system if you are off track.

A. Creating a Performance Dashboard

Whether you create a dashboard from a simple spreadsheet or advanced performance management software, no technical expertise is required. A good format is one that can be easily viewed by the management team or others in the organization to quickly assess performance status. This promotes collaboration, information sharing and allows the organization to rally around the established goals and objectives.

Using the performance dashboard, the entire organization can track progress on the goals that have been established.  Using the timeframe you have established, you create a formalized process to “check-in” on a strategy, program, operation, or financial outcome and then report honest assessment of progress.  Performance dashboards can become overly complex, but if you are new to this type of tool, start simple and you can move to more advanced methods when you are ready. The dashboard we have created below can be used a template and is in tabular format.  

Table 4
Sample Consolidated Performance Dashboard
Parish Adult Faith Formation Program

Fall 2015 Table 4

Dashboard Visuals

Dashboard visuals can be a powerful element of your performance management system. There are a number of ways to use the dashboard to track and/or visualize progress. We have already discussed a simple text format and that can work very well. However, there are numerous options available to visualize data.

Let’s review a few types of visualizations that can be created using spreadsheet or presentation software.

Stop Light

Stop light

Using a stop light visual is an effective means to communicate progress because of universal familiarity with the sign. The red colored circle can indicate if a goal is off track and may need some type of mitigation tactic, status is unclear or further investigation is needed (yellow light), or the goal is on track and progressing (green light). 

Red: Status information suggests that there may be significant issues that could impact the ability to deliver the goal.

Yellow: Status information suggests that there may be issues that, if not addressed immediately, could impact the ability to deliver the goal’s objective.

Green: Status information suggests that goal is on track and going according to plan. 

Speed Gauge

A speed gauge visual can be used to indicate the extent to which progress is being made on a goal. Creating one is easier than you might imagine. 

Figure 2
Sample Speed Dial to Track Performance
Parish Adult Faith Formation Participant Feedback


Bar Chart

A bar chart visual is a simple format to compare projected versus actual progress towards a goal. Comparing bars one against the other can quickly show progress on the status of a financial goal. 

Figure 3
Performance Dashboard Bar Chart
Parish Fundraising Campaign

bar chart

B. Reporting Status and Results

Table 5 is a consolidated view of the performance dashboard for a hypothetical parish. Note that we have created a dashboard that includes all of the elements we discussed above. 

  • Connect parish goals with objectives and concrete activities that will help to meet the goal
  • Develop performance measures and metrics to identify what success looks like
  • Establish anticipated performance targets to gauge level of success
  • Determine timeframe for reporting results
  • Name individual point of contact for accountability 
  • Report status via text and/or visual displays

Table 5
Performance Management Dashboard

Fall 2015 Table 5

III. Five Tips for Establishing Goals and Developing Performance Measures

Recognizing the need for a performance management system, you may still wonder how to set goals and performance measures that will be useful and realistic.  Let’s conclude this chapter by running through five tips for establishing effective performance goals and measures.

1. Focus on promotion not punishment

The purpose of an effective performance management is not to punish but to promote, provide direction, and measure progress. This statement may seem counterintuitive given our culture focused on doing things better, smarter, and more efficiently. However, we often gloss over how a performance management system can promote the wonderful accomplishments being achieved by the parish staff and congregation. Leading a performance driven organization means that the parish is highly aware of what they do well and celebrates these accomplishments.

2. Establish goals that are outcome-oriented and measurable

What are you trying to accomplish with this program?  What is the problem you are trying to solve? After the program is completed, what does success mean to the organization? Church programs often include more qualitative focused activities, but there are ways to put in place measureable goals.  The benefit of these types of goals is that you can clearly know when you have achieved the outcome.

3. Involve people

Seek input and collaborate with others to help you brainstorming ideas.  A team-oriented approach to developing performance measures helps create a culture of collaboration and accountability.  It is amazing to watch the creative process that unfolds when a group comes together to shares ideas. It is much easier for individuals to feel accountable to performance targets when they know what is included in terms of opportunities and constraints because they have been involved throughout the process.

4. Keep it simple

Do not worry about the number of goals or measures you establish.  One or two well-established goals may be all that's necessary.  Goals help you and your teams “keep your eyes on the prize.”  Remember, the purpose of establishing goals is to help you and all involved in your program know when you have achieved success. It will help drive all aspects of the program. 

5. Address Limitations

Recognize performance measurement has some limitations.  I often hear from church managers that parish outcomes are difficult to measure when it comes to goals and objectives. I argue that even though it may be challenging, it is not impossible. The excuses that church programs have too many non-measureable outcomes do not stand up.  There are a number of creative ways to measure the progress of programs that are more qualitative in nature. These mechanisms include:

  • Administering surveys – providing a pre and post program/activity survey can help you assess an increase in understanding or knowledge.
  • Conducting interviews – interviewing participants to measure progress on a given topic can be a very effective means to assess growth.
  • Focus groups – gathering a group of participants to listen and enlighten one another on their experience can be highly effective. 

Another limitation that can frustrate leaders attempting to implement a performance measurement system is the cost of timely data collection and analysis.  It will be important that no matter what system you develop, whether it is basic or advanced, think through the time, efforts, and resources it will take to produce results. Performance plans have to be right-sized for the parish and the resources you have available. You will not want to undertake a huge data collection effort and then realize you have no staff to analyze the data. The key to addressing this limitation is to be proactive and assess the level of effort an initiative will take to be completed.


Creating a performance management system in order to carry out parish goals can be extremely valuable to the parish community. It enables a parish to both measure success and provides a means to communicate results. By building ownership and accountability it serves to motivate improved performance. But most important, by relating goals, objectives, measures, and metrics; by establishing a target and timeframe; and by identifying a person to serve as the point of contact; it establishes a process to align parish mission and vision with parish outcomes.

A key tool in conducting a performance management system is a performance dashboard. The dashboard provides a timely and straightforward way to view performance data and information. It provides a continual updated assessment of the progress of the strategy, program, operation etc. as it relates to the parish’s goals, objectives, activities etc. And of critical importance, the dashboard also offers an advanced warning system if things go off track.

Creating a performance management system does not have to be a complicated, labor intensive undertaking.  However, like other functional parish management tools, success relies on the ability to learn the language/terminology of performance management and begin the process slowly, taking one step at a time.

Questions?  Comments?  Feel free to email Michael Castrilli at  


Bryson, John M., Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Jewell, Marti R. and David A. Ramey. The Changing Face of the Church: Emerging Models of Parish Leadership. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2010. 

Pickett, William L.  A Concise Guide to Pastoral Planning.  Edited by Kevin E. McKenna. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 2007. 

Michael J. Castrilli is an adjunct professor in the Master of Science in Church Management program at Villanova University. He is featured presenter for seminarians, priests, and others involved in ministry on management topics including finance, human resources, and strategic planning. 

Pontifical Lateran University and Archdiocese of NY Partner with Center for Church Management & Business Ethics

Jim Gallo
Center Director, Center for Church Management & Business Ethics

Over the course of the past few months, the Center for Church Management has been fortunate to enter into two new partnerships with the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, and the Archdiocese of New York (as you may have read in our last issue of the newsletter).

We believe these partnerships and others like it help further spread our mission to deliver practical management skills to Church leaders at all levels, increase awareness of church management issues, and hopefully inspire other organizations to adopt an emphasis on Church Management. Below you will find brief summaries of both of our partnerships.  If your diocese or organization is interested in forming a new partnership with Villanova's Center for Church Management & Business Ethics, please contact us at

Pontifical Lateran University

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Center for Church Management and Business Ethics (CCMBE) at the Villanova School of Business (VSB) has come to an agreement with the Pontifical Lateran University (PUL) in Rome to collaborate during the second year of their International School of Pastoral Management.  The CCMBE will provide online and in-person education alongside professors from the PUL to students from around the world.  In addition to the presence of faculty from the Master of Science in Church Management (MSCM) program in Rome, an annual, one-week summer program will be established for students from the PUL on the Villanova campus. Along with the education component, the two organizations will collaborate on developing a series of biannual international research conferences on Church Management, one in Rome and one in the U.S.

partnership agreement
Dr. Chuck Zech and Bishop Enrico dal Covolo, Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University sign a partnership agreement

The PUL recently developed the School of Pastoral Management in response to Pope Francis’ desire to overhaul Church finances, and a desire for Church leaders to be better-trained to respond to the economic needs of the Church. “We are very glad about this new collaboration with Villanova University’s Center for Church Management and Business Ethics because it is a well-respected international academic program that has been conducting research and education on issues related to pastoral management for the past 10 years” says Giulio Carpi, the Director of the School of Pastoral Management at the Pontifical Lateran University.

“We are delighted to work with the Pontifical Lateran University,” says Charles Zech, PhD, Professor, Economics and Faculty Director for the CCMBE. “We are dedicated to providing the best possible church management education and research to help lead and serve the Church effectively. This partnership means not only that we will have a connection with the Vatican, but it also gives us the opportunity to share our expertise and work to build a stronger universal Church.”

In addition to educational programs both in Rome and on the Villanova campus, this new partnership hopes to develop a series of international research conferences on the topic of Church Management.  The conferences will be held in alternating locations between Rome and Villanova.

Teams from the CCMBE and PUL met on May 4 – 6 in Rome to finalize details of the collaboration. A press conference and official signing ceremony was also be held at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome on May 5.

Dr. Chuck Zech meets His Holiness, Pope Francis in Rome

The first cohort of students from the PUL began their 15-week program in February of 2015, and will attend a week-long residency at Villanova in April 2016. Dr. Zech also addressed students from the first cohort in May 2015 in Rome. Faculty from Villanova’s CCMBE will teach three modules to the second cohort of PUL students beginning in January 2016 both online and in Rome.  The second cohort of PUL students will attend a summer school session on the Villanova campus in August 2016.

“Take a look at the lives of the great Saints of charity that illuminate the history of the Church, from Don Bosco to Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Their love for the poor was so resourceful and innovative they should make even the great Silicon Valley people jealous,” says Rector Monsignor Enrico dal Covolo, Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.  “Don Bosco was called ‘God’s entrepreneur.’”

Center Director Jim Gallo and his wife meet Pope Francis

VSB began offering programs in church management in 2004. It’s Master of Science in Church Management degree was initiated in 2008.  This two-year, online program offers training to both clergy and laity in Church finance, human resources, law, planning, and other areas crucial to the financial health of the Church and enrolls students from five continents.  “While the Church is not a business, it does have a duty to be good stewards of its resources,” says Dr. Zech.  This is evident in the MSCM curriculum, which combines practical business skills with theological insight Recently, the CCMBE also entered partnership with the Archdiocese of New York to offer the MSCM program to lay people and clergy within the Archdiocese in support of the Archdiocese’s “Making All Things New” initiative, a strategic parish-planning program that aims to improve parishes to better serve the faithful. The center offers several non-credit programs in church management including a webinar certificate series, customizable programs for seminarians, on-site diocesan training for clergy and lay staff, and one day conferences on the Villanova campus on current church management topics, as well as publishing cutting edge research on current church management issues.

Archdiocese of New York

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University’s Center for Church Management and Business Ethics (CCMBE) at the Villanova School of Business (VSB) has come to an agreement with the Archdiocese of New York (ADNY) to offer a unique program of the Master of Science in Church Management (MSCM) for parishes of the ADNY. The terms of the agreement stipulate that the ADNY will matriculate up to 50 parishioners into the MSCM program annually for the duration of two years.

Archdiocese of New York
Dr. Chuck Zech, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Provost Patrick Maggitti, & Center Director Jim Gallo

The ADNY recently launched the “Making All Things New” initiative, a strategic parish-planning program that aims to improve parishes to better serve the faithful. As part of this initiative, parishes may consolidate, and the clergy will take on greater pastoral and administrative responsibilities. Some of these administrative responsibilities will need to be delegated to qualified parish business managers. To ensure the parishes will be managed by the most highly qualified business managers, the ADNY turned to Villanova’s MSCM degree to obtain church management education.

“During Making All Things New, our pastoral planning process, one thing we heard over and over from both priests and parishioners was the need to help support our pastors in managing our parishes by developing stronger business practices.  The Archdiocese of New York has long been a leader in supporting our pastors and parishes, which is why we are so happy to be able to partner with Villanova University to provide our parishes with the opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized master's program to train professional business managers.  Business management, like so many other roles in a parish, is truly a ministry and I know that our pastors join me in expressing immense gratitude to those who serve their parishes and schools in this manner.  In the next few years, I look forward to congratulating the first class of Archdiocese of New York and Villanova University trained business managers, whose service will strengthen our parishes, schools and the Church in New York,” says His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

“We are delighted to welcome members of the Archdiocese of New York into our church management program,” says Charles Zech, PhD, faculty director for the CCMBE and director of the MSCM program. “We are dedicated to providing the best possible church management education and to help parishioners lead and serve the Church effectively. This partnership means not only that we will have a steady stream of students, but also that the Church will have a greater number of trained business professionals assisting their pastors.”

Provost Patrick Maggitti and His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan Sign the Official Agreements Between Villanova and the Archdiocese of New York

An introductory orientation was held in NY in June of 2015, with the rest of the MSCM degree courses offered on-line, making it convenient for busy church workers wherever they reside to earn their degree. The ADNY participants receive the same education and are taught by the same faculty members as the Villanova cohort of MSCM students. All courses have been specially developed to meet the needs of church managers.  Students will take two courses each semester and graduate in two years.

For more information on the MSCM program at Villanova, click here.

If you are from the ADNY, click here.

And the Survey Says… Parish Ministries

The last few issues I’ve been sharing data collected for the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project. This was a collaborative effort by five Catholic national ministry organizations interested in pursuing pastoral excellence through research and dialogue. It was funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. Research supporting the project was provided by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The study included a number of components, including surveys of a single parish informant, parishioners, and parish leaders (staff, parish advisory council members, and other parish leaders, including parish business managers. This article relies on the data collected from a parish staff member (frequently the pastor) who was asked about various parish characteristics. The margin of error is 4.2 percent.

One of the questions concerned the availability of a laundry list of parish ministries. A total of 17 parish ministries were listed. The average number of ministries offered in a parish was 10.46. In order of frequency of offering they were:

Parish Ministries

Are there any surprises on this list? Ministries that are under-represented? Ministries that you assumed that every parish would offer?

How does your parish stack up?

For More Information

Center for Church Management
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Tel: (610) 519-6015
Fax: (610) 519-6054