"Consultant" can be such a bad word in church circles—it's amazing. That's one reason why we use the term "navigator" at Future Church Co. The idea of navigation comes from the reality that our best expertise is not the answers we bring to the table in a suitcase, but in something else. If a consultant is any good, it's obvious to him or her that the answers are already in the room. The answers are in the Spirit and in the gathered leadership.

The problem is that the answers have not been sufficiently "navigated" to the surface. They have not been mined, cooked, and refined. Our expertise is not the answers we bring, but in the process that enables conversation, prayer, and world-class questions to help YOU fundamentally LIVE and COMMUNICATE your vision. Our process brings you unprecedented clarity.

How a Real Church Consultant Will Help Your Church

When I come in to work with you, I will have dialogued with you or your team for at least 90 minutes. Prescription without diagnoses is malpractice. After two decades of having 3 or 4 of these 90-minute conversations every week, I get pretty comfortable with the common patterns and challenges that you are facing. So after the initial conversation I will draft a process, completely unique to you, that we can review together.

If you're considering working with a church consultant, this is one way to weed out those you don't want to work with. If someone begins talking about the solutions they offer before spending a significant amount of time trying understand your unique situation, your context, and the specific challenges you're facing right now ... you don't want to hire them. No two churches are the same and no two churches are in the same stage of development and a good consultant will invest the time in asking questions until they have a solid understanding of where your church is at this present moment.

When I send a draft of the process I am recommending for your church, if you are serious about your vision and about taking your leadership to the next level, you may be interested. If you are not serious about vision or organizational leadership, the cost will filter you out. Churches that work with us will invest significant time and resources for a process will last 6 to 18 months and usually involves a team approach.

The Types of Key Questions a Real Church Consultant Can Help You Answer

With that as background, I thought I would share with you how I think about church consulting. Basically, the core of the initial interview is identifying the key questions that, if answered well, will impact the scope of the ministry's impact for decades to come.

For example, one fast-growth church called with staffing challenges they are hitting. This is typical when a church encounters the "glass ceilings" of 1200, 2000 or 3000 in weekend attendance. Below you will find the questions that I articulated for them that I can help them answer.

  • How do we create a vision for new structures rather than make changes as a “knee-jerk” response?
  • How can the staff feel excited about changes in light of a shared vision and strategy?

  • How can we keep the best of a “small church feel” while working more strategically and decisively at all levels of leadership?

  • How can training in vision, clarity, and communication strengthen the boldness of senior leadership without it feeling “personality based?”

  • What does it look like to create new ministry ideas and maintain a simple church strategy?

  • How can the staff not only embrace change, but learn important perspectives and disciplines to drive and manage growth to another level?

So what are the take-aways for you? Consider the following.

  1. If you don't ask the right questions you could be working for the rest of your life under faulty or fuzzy assumptions.
  2. If you think you can "do it yourself," ask several honest, smart people if you are correct in your assessment or if could you could be myopic or arrogant in thinking that a strategic outsider is not needed. It's truly sad to me how many gifted people get stuck at Jim Collins' "level four." If you are a "genius with a 1000 helpers" you will probably never use a consultant.
  3. Know that a consultant doesn't work by the hour, but by a value proposition. What is the value to a church that is getting stuck at 1200 in attendance, to really break free from a certain perspective or habits that are holding them back?
  4. If you are considering using a consultant, pay attention to their assessment work. Do they presume they have answers or do they have great approach to discover the answers?
  5. If you would like to get a list of questions based on your growth challenges today, don't hesitate giving me a shout. I would be glad to spend 90 minutes with you.