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Bill Easum in his 2011 article, The Importance of a Church Consultant/Coach, states that “Nothing takes the place of experience and a proven track record of helping churches reach their desired goals.” He provides us with the following five strengths that every consultant should bring to the church:
- A track record of actually having done what the consultant teaches and recommends in the consultation
- Experience in working with your church size, your community context, and your church’s mission orientation
- Broad recognition and credibility through previous church consultations, publishing, and personal endorsements
- An effective listener, synthesizer, and communicator
- An ability to paint a picture of reality without alienating the leaders (p.1)
Even though I am an ordained SBC minister who has pastored small churches and have a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with a Strategic Leadership major and a consulting emphasis; Easums’ five necessary strengths of a church consultant are the very reason I am working to become a Level 5 certified church consultant with the Society for Church Consulting. In the meantime, since 2013 I have been working with local churches, Pro Bono and paid, in a consulting and leadership coaching capacity gaining valuable experience utilizing my ministerial and educational background in the Kingdom’s work.
In their book, Thinking about the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight, editors Hines and Bishop make the following point that reinforces Easums’ second point as they emphasize the consultant learning as much about the organization [church] as is possible stating:
No two organizations [churches] are alike. Approaches [consulting/consultations] that work well with one organization [church] may turn off [be inappropriate] for another. Each [church] brings its own set of assumptions, culture, and situation to the table. It behooves the analyst [church consultant] to learn as much as possible about the client [church], including assumptions, culture….audiences…history, issues, etc. Most of this learning will take place in the early phases of the [consultation], (2006, p. 25).
Their statement is an important consideration that a good church consultant will be both cognizant of and practice. Peter Block, Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used reminds both the consultants and the clients [churches] that there is more to being a good consultant than techniques and procedural ways. Churches considering the possibility of engaging a church consultant would do well to understand that according to Block there are four elements to the affective side of consultant-client [church] interaction that is always operating. Block’s four elements are:
- The first element to having a good contract with the client [church] is that responsibility for what is planned and takes place has to be balanced—50/50. In most cases, the client comes to you with the expectation that once you are told what the problem is, you provide the solution. Your goal [the consultant’s goal] acts out the fact that it’s a 50/50 proposition.
- The second element that’s always an issue is to what extent clients are able to own their own feelings. In a way, this is them working on their responsibility. The consultant needs to keep in mind how much the client owns their feelings versus talking as if just an observer of the organization. The consultant also has to keep in mind what his or her feelings are about the client.
- The third element is trust. Most of us go into a situation as a consultant and bring with us the prevailing image of the consultant as the expert and someone to watch out for. It is often useful to ask the clients [churches] whether they trust your confidentiality, whether they trust you not to put them down or to take things over. By doing this, you’re working to build trust.
- The fourth element on the affective side of the consultant-client relationship is that the consultants have to their own needs from this relationship. On a practical level the consultant has needs for access to that organization [church], to talk to people, to ask them questions (2000, pp. 14-17).
Block also notes:
- Problem-solving requires valid data
- Effective decision making requires a free and open choice
- Effective implementation requires internal commitment (p. 18)
Finally, Block provides us with the consultant goals:
- Goal one is to establish a collaborative relationship
- Goal two is to solve problems so they stay solved
- Goal three is to ensure attention is given to both the technical/business [spiritual] problem and relationships
- Developing client [church] commitment, a secondary goal of each consulting act (pp. 19-21).
It is quite interesting to see that consultants/authors Block and Easum, along with editors Hines & Bishop on this topic have much to say that reinforces the observations of the other wouldn’t you say?
References: Listed as they appeared in this article
Bill Easum, The Importance of a Church Consultant/Coach, Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.religiousproductnews.com/articles/2011-May/eNewsletter/The-Importance-of-a-Church-Consultant-Coach.htm p.1.
Andy Hines & Peter Bishop (Ed’s), Thinking about the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight, (2006, Washington, DC: Social Technologies, LLC), p. 25.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used, 2nd Ed. (2000, San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer), pp. 14-21.