As a consultant that works with churches and ministry organizations, I appreciated this recent article by Alan Chandler and thought it was worth reposting here. Here’s what Alan wrote:

There is a trend in church revitalization efforts that needs to be addressed.  The trend is the felt need to handle everything internally.

The opening decade of the 21st Century has revealed historically unique challenges for the church.  More and more, church and denominational leaders are recognizing the existence of  these challenges.  For the most part their response has been to keep everything in-house.  In other words: Their revitalization efforts are internally generated and implemented.

How is it working?  An honest answer is, “Not so well.”  There is growing frustration among leaders as revitalization efforts meet with lack of enthusiasm and effectiveness.  Yet church leaders (denominational and local church) are still hesitant to look outside for help.

In effort to address these felt frustrations, I offer a brief list of five benefits to working with an outside consultant.

They come from the outside: I know it looks like I am overstating the obvious.  The realty, however, is the majority of what an outside consultant brings to the table is that they come from the outside.  The outside element is huge and carries with it many peripheral benefits.

Objectivity: Only someone from the outside can be completely objective.  Simply put: It takes an outsider to see the challenges that people involved in the day-to-day no longer see.

Insulation of church leadership: Because consultations deal with potentially sensitive issues, an outside consultant provides a layer of insulation for the leaders of the church.  Most of the opposition to difficult recommendations can be buffered through the outside consultant before it ever gets to church and denominational leaders.

Freedom to tackle difficult recommendations: Outside consultant’s are not emotionally connected to their client church and can therefore make difficult recommendations.

They are more openly received: This one is perhaps the most significant, yet most under appreciated of the benefits.  It’s the source of the felt frustration of denominational leadership.  It’s also the root cause for the lack of buy-in of the local church.

No matter how you slice it, if it comes from the top the local church will view it as “just another program.”  Regardless of the vision, mission, etc.; by the time it hits the local church it’s received as burden being forced upon them by the “higher-ups” in the denomination.

One of the mysteries associated with recommendations coming from an outside consultant is they are viewed less as programatic, and received more as being rallied to a cause.

These are his five observations.  What do you think about bringing in an outside consultant?

Greg Atkinson

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