Church consulting can provide a massive lift for your church leadership team or be a complete drain of time, money, and resources.
Hiring a church consultant won’t automatically fix leadership tension points, repair broken organizational systems, and skyrocket your giving. But, if you hire the right consultant at the right time, the results can be truly transformational for your church.
The right fit is imperative when it comes to church consulting. So, this blog post will outline what church consultants do, what to look for in a consultant, and how to decide if you’re ready for consulting. In addition, we provide details on five church consulting groups for you to consider. Read on for more!
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Table of contents
- What is a Church Consultant, and What Do They Do?
- How to Know if You Need Church Consulting
- What to Look For in Hiring a Church Consultant
- 5 Church Consulting Groups to Consider
- Are You Ready for Church Consulting?
- Final Thoughts on Hiring a Church Consultant
What is a Church Consultant, and What Do They Do?
Bringing in a consultant sounds like a great idea for a business or corporation, but does it make sense for churches?
A church consultant is dedicated to helping churches to grow and thrive. There are many different areas where a church consultant can assist, but some of the most common include church marketing, financial management, and church governance.
Church consultants thoroughly understand the challenges and opportunities that churches face, and they use this knowledge to help leaders with identity, strategy, and implementation.
In many cases, church consultants are former pastors or church administrators who understand the role and can offer a unique perspective on overcoming challenges. So whether you need help with a specific issue or seek guidance on growing your church, a church consultant can be an invaluable partner in your journey.
To summarize the benefits of a consultant, these individuals or groups can help provide you with:
- Clarity: Church consultants can help leaders see the big picture, clarify mission and core values, and develop a clear vision for the future.
- Strategy: Once you have a vision, church consultants can help you develop a plan for achieving your goals. This may include developing new programs, evaluating existing programs, or changing church structure or governance.
- Implementation: Church consultants can also help church leaders implement the necessary changes to achieve their vision. The implementation phase may include training church staff and volunteers, developing new systems and processes, or providing accountability.
How to Know if You Need Church Consulting
There are many reasons why a church might hire a consultant. For example, maybe the church is facing declining church attendance or wants to start a new program but doesn’t know where to begin. In other cases, the church might be going through a transition, such as a leadership change.
Church consultants can help you identify the root of your problems and challenges and develop a plan to address them.
It might be time to consider hiring a church consultant if your church is struggling. Here are a few signs that you may want to seek out professional help:
- You’re not sure where to start.
- Your church is in a season of transition.
- Your church is facing declining attendance.
- Your church is struggling financially.
- Your church doesn’t have a clear vision or strategy.
- You struggle to find, grow, and maintain leaders.
- Volunteers and staff are getting burned out.
- You don’t know how to navigate technology, digital marketing, and media changes.
If any of these points resonate with your current season as a church, hiring a consultant may help you break through plateaus and provide trusted guidance.
What to Look For in Hiring a Church Consultant
Consultants are usually going to look outstanding on paper. However, although they might be intelligent individuals with tons of experience, they can still be the wrong fit for your church.
Having great chemistry is a huge priority when investing time and money in church consulting. Without the right synergy, your work with a consultant will turn into a stalemate, dead-end, or rabbit trail.
So before you sign a contract, consider these qualities to look for when hiring someone for church consulting.
Honor For Your Church
First and foremost, you want a church consultant who will respect your church and its people. The goal isn’t to transform you into a cookie-cutter replica of the “successful” church down the street. Instead, a good consultant should be able to work within the framework of what makes your church unique.
Some consultants focus on a particular denomination, but many work with churches across the board. Regardless of denominational background, your church consultant must be aligned with your church’s core theology, values, and beliefs. Alignment will ensure that they understand how to help you in a way that allows you to stay true to your mission.
The first step to excellent consulting should involve lots of listening. The consultants need to understand your church’s story, where you came from, and where you want to go. Once they have a good grasp of your church’s current state and most significant challenges, they can begin to provide options and make recommendations for change.
Be wary of any consultant who tries to sell you on a “quick fix.” While it’s tempting to want someone to come in and work miracles, the truth is that real, lasting change takes time. It’s also a partnership – your church has to shoulder its responsibility. A good church consultant should be able to set realistic expectations and help you develop a long-term plan for success.
One of the essential qualities of a church consultant is excellent communication. They should be able to clearly and effectively communicate their ideas to you and your church leaders. If they cannot do this, it will be difficult for them to help you implement the recommended changes. In addition, they should be timely in responding to your questions and communication.
Clear Process and Deliverables
Church consulting should have clear expectations and measurable outcomes. Otherwise, you could fall into the trap of having endless conversations and meetings that don’t bear any fruit. In addition, a good church consultant should be able to outline the process and timeline from the beginning. A clear plan will help ensure that you’re on the same page. And that your church is getting the most out of the consulting relationship!
Now that we’ve covered some qualities to look for when hiring a church consultant let’s take a look at a few church consulting groups that come highly recommended.
5 Church Consulting Groups to Consider
The following church consulting groups are excellent choices for churches seeking help in specific areas.
The Auxano team has been partnering with pastors and ministry leaders for over 18 years. The vision framing process, based on the principles of the book Church Unique, is the foundation of Auxuano consulting. They also currently offer six Growth Track options:
- Generosity Campaigns – funding seasons of vision and growth.
- Generosity Culture – creating a discipleship pathway.
- Vision Planning Retreat – dreaming about the future in a collaborative setting.
- Auxano Assessments – learning from your congregation.
- Guest Experiences – keeping and connecting your first-time guests.
- Leadership Pipeline – building leaders in your church.
Auxano’s approach is to come alongside churches and help them figure out what’s working well and where they need improvement. They provide hands-on consulting and training and also produce podcasts, webinars, and resources for all.
The Barna Group is known for their extensive research on church trends, topics, and issues. However, they also offer consulting to a limited number of churches, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
Churches and organizations turn to Barna for solid, research-backed assessments and analysis. Some of the church consulting services Barna offers include:
- Vision Clarity – knowing who your church is and how to connect your unique story to your community.
- Congregational & Community Assessments – understanding who your attendees are and developing a profile of your community.
- Leadership Development & Training – assessing leaders’ strengths, weaknesses, and gifts with Barna’s recognized research tool.
- Senior Leader Transitions – helping with the transition by assessing attitudes and expectations.
- Generational Tensions – assess attitudes and behaviors to understand how generational differences affect the future of your church.
- Denominational Affiliation/Cessation – for churches considering leaving or joining a denomination.
- Facility and Financial Assessments – assessing your congregation’s commitment to building and expansion projects.
According to the Unstuck Group, most churches go through a bell-curve lifecycle of growth, maintenance, and decline. The purpose of this consulting group is to help pastors clarify where God has called their church to go and how to get there. Then, they’ll coach you as you lead change.
Their consulting process has two distinct phases: the Planning Phase and the Implementation & Follow Through Phase.
Phase one encompasses the first 90 days. It includes three planning sessions, analysis, and data-driven reports on ministry health, staffing, and more. In the planning phase, you’ll walk through:
- Ministry Health Assessment
- Strategic Planning
- Staffing & Structure Review
Phase two, Implementation & Follow Through, begins in the fourth month and can continue indefinitely. During this phase, you’ll do the following:
- Execute the plan – quarterly check-in sessions and access to the Unstuck Learning Hub for your whole team
- Refresh your vision – measure progress, refresh priorities, and maintain alignment
The church consulting group Artistry Labs focuses on a partnership to help you create a flywheel of change and momentum. According to their website, it’s not uncommon for a plateaued church to grow by 30% following their process.
Options for areas to cover in the consulting process include:
- 360-degree assessment – to gain unparalleled insight
- Digital experience – to calibrate for results
- Mission/Vision/Values – to clarify your calling
- Community Analytics/Persona – to increase your reach
- Engagement/Growth – to uncover blind spots and roadblocks
- Customer Journey/Assimilation – to take people further
Artistry Labs also offers services for branding, technology, and marketing. If you need help in one of these particular areas, there are additional services within each category.
Since the 1990s, The Malphurs Group has been helping churches lead with intentionality and strategy. One unique aspect of this group is their “Guide Directory” which allows you to select a guide from your denomination of choice.
With this option, you can identify which particular consultant you would like to work with. Another unique option is TMG en Espanol, which provides services of The Malphurs Group in Spanish.
Overall, services include:
- Church Ministry Analysis
- Strategic Planning
- Leadership Pipeline
- Pastoral Coaching
Are You Ready for Church Consulting?
So by now, you probably think that church consulting sounds pretty fantastic. But before you dive in, one indispensable element for effective church consulting is: your willing participation.
A consultant can’t do it for you, so you need to be honest about the state of your leaders and team and their openness to feedback. Will they deflect advice with excuses of why “that won’t work for us here,” or will they humbly accept feedback, willingly step into discomfort, and genuinely embrace change?
If your team doesn’t implement your consultant’s advice, investing in church consulting may be wasted.
Final Thoughts on Hiring a Church Consultant
Many pastors and leaders have had great success with church consulting and see a biblical precedent for seeking advice, wisdom, and counsel.
When your church is stuck, or you don’t even know what the root problem is, church consulting can be tremendously beneficial. A consultant can provide an outside perspective, fresh ideas, and compelling new solutions to help your church move forward.
While many different church consulting groups are available, it’s essential to do your research before selecting one. Make sure you know what services are provided and how much they will cost. Also, be aware of any red flags that indicate a church consultant is not a good fit for your church.
Have you ever worked with a church consultant? Tell us more about your experience in the comments below!