by Rev. Chris Gambill, Ph.D.
Fall is one of the seasons when the Center for Congregational Health staff typically sees an uptick in calls inquiring about church consulting. While it is often congregational conflict that prompts a call, there are many other situations where a church consultant can be helpful. Since using a church consultant is still a new idea for lots of congregations, here are some of the questions you might ask in determining whether or not a church consultant could be helpful to you.
Are you “stuck?”
Do you feel “stuck” as a congregation and unsure how to get moving forward? If your congregation is 40 or more years old, then it is highly likely it is experiencing a gradual decline in participation, giving, etc. There may not be any actual “problem” anyone can name, but the congregation may still feel unable to make progress. A church consultant can help the congregation identify the barriers holding it back, and the assets God has given the congregation that can help it move forward and flourish.
Puzzled by a new challenge?
Is there an issue or challenge you are facing that is out of your range of experience or skill to address? Congregations face unique challenges today. In many cases, there is no clear precedent to guide them to a workable solution. Center consultants have deep and wide-ranging skill sets that they can use to help congregations explore the “strange new world” of mission and ministry in 2016 and beyond.
Need an outside perspective?
Do you need an outside perspective of someone who has no vested interest other than the health and vitality of your congregation? It’s easy for congregation members to become so familiar with their situation that it’s hard to be objective. Is your congregational “cup” half-empty, or half-full? Should you be concerned about your future health and vitality? Or are you doing well and being faithful stewards of God’s gifts? It can be helpful to have a new set of eyes and ears to provide feedback and help you see things that you might otherwise overlook or miss altogether in your journey toward congregational health.
Have a problem that just won’t go away?
Does your congregation have a nagging or recurring problem that just doesn’t seem to ever go away? Have you tried to solve a problem previously but were unsuccessful? A church consultant can’t solve a problem for you, but they are skilled at addressing a problem with you. Center consultants excel at creating processes and safe spaces where congregations can work together to solve problems, discern God’s call, and make good decisions.
Do you need motivation or accountability outside your system to help you move forward? Church consulting is not free—and it turns out that this is one of the best things about using a consultant. In the Center’s nearly 25 years of experience, we have learned that congregations willing to invest time, energy and money (not necessarily a lot of it!) into working with a consultant, are much more likely to become invested in working to see the positive outcomes of the work.
In congregations, God gives the gift of community and mutual support to undergird the work of mission and ministry. Just as surely as congregation members need each other, congregations themselves also need the love and support of others in order to flourish. Church consultants are one of the key resources God has given the modern Church to help it thrive. Don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or email if you’d like to explore how a church consultant might be helpful to your congregation.