Peter Drucker’s Theology of Works

On November 18, 2005 in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Leslie Lenkowsky wrote an article entitled “Drucker’s Contributions to Nonprofit Management” ( This article highlights management guru Peter Drucker’s foray, in the latter part of his life, into transforming the social sector. This “third sector” of society was fertile ground for Drucker’s social philosophies. He believed that churches, foundations, charities and private institutions should all be reinvented according to his results-driven formula. He taught a gospel of accountability, performance standards, outcomes, results, measurability and assessment.

“For most of his career, Peter F. Drucker was renowned as an expert on business management, whose books and articles were widely read, and advice widely sought, by corporate leaders throughout the world. But late in his life, he turned his attention to the nonprofit world, writing a best-selling guide to running charitable groups and creating a foundation bearing his name to strengthen leadership in what he called the ‘social sector.’

“This shift is not as surprising as it might initially seem. Mr. Drucker, who died last week, was interested in nonprofit groups because he thought they played a key role in giving a purpose to modern societies, a task he felt that, despite their economic successes, businesses increasingly avoided. Unfortunately, as he would have seen it, there are now signs that nonprofit groups, too, are focusing more on their financial success than in serving others. . . .

“As he had with businesses, he saw in nonprofit groups a distinctively American innovation that could build community while providing valuable services and fostering innovation. Indeed, Mr. Drucker viewed nonprofit groups as leaders in the knowledge-driven enterprises that would characterize all economic activity in the future.

“But while management practices had been getting better, charities still had room for improvement, especially in producing results, if they were to retain the confidence and trust of the American public. Without that, their existence — and their ability to promote greater social equality — would be in jeopardy.” [emphases added]

The full implementation of Peter Drucker’s social business philosophies on the private sector is close to being achieved. Rick Warren’s “purpose-driven” life and church programs is “Christianized” Drucker theology for the people in the pews. Warren boldly proclaimed this past Spring that he was launching a New Reformation that would be about “works.” His new Druckerite church will rely heavily upon standards, results, measurements, accountability (not in the biblical sense, but rather in the Drucker sense), and a focus on performance. This is a new legalism.

The New Guilt

Drucker’s system also relies heavily upon peer pressure in “community” for conformance to new standards. One way to achieve successful peer pressure is to create guilt — not a true biblical guilt, but a psychological guilt. Guilt is very easy to produce when external standards for performance are set up. Interestingly, Dr. Francis Schaeffer warned about precisely this type of false guilt back in 1968 when he wrote The God Who Is There (Crossway, Complete Works, Vol. 3, 1982).

“Modern theology may use the term guilt, but because it is not orientated in a true moral framework, it turns out to be no more than guilt-feelings. And as in their system they have no place for true guilt, the death of Jesus on the cross takes on an entirely different meaning. Following from this, the work of Christ and the ministry of the church becomes one of two things: either a basis for sociological motivation, using undefinable religious terms; or a means for psychological integration, again using religious words. In both cases, the connotation words used are open to the control of the manipulators.” (p. 111) [emphasis added]

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Gal. 2:16)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9)