My Philosophy of Church Consulting (Part 2)

Apart from what I wrote in Part 1, which would form the basic framework of my philosophy of church consulting, the following, I believe, are also necessary elements for effective consulting:

Long Term. Consulting a church may be a one-off engagement. However, a long term engagement is not only more helpful, it is, I believe, necessary.  The leaders and executors need guidance from a trained consultant to help them carry out the recommendations, which includes planning, strategizing and execution. I would make myself available to the implementation team; to provide assistance in the areas where I have the gift-set. At the very least that would include guidance vis-à-vis the big picture needs of the church.

Driver. I do not believe that any attempts to implement the recommendations will work if there isn’t a clear driver from within the church. If it is something that concerns the whole church then the driver must be from among the top leadership; better still, if it was the pastor himself. If it concerns a particular ministry then the ministry leader must be the driver. The consultant cannot be the driver; it must be someone from the church. That person must have a clear sense of ownership of the church or ministry, and the issue. He must be passionate for the Lord, the church and what needs to be done. He must also have godly wisdom and good leadership skills.

Leadership Unity. Unity among the key leaders of the church is critical to the success of the consultation process. They must agree on the issues that need to be addressed, decisions about what to do (recommendations), their priority and the steps to take to implement the solutions. If any key leader is not in agreement it is very likely that it will fail. It is not good enough for a key leader to stand passively by the side and watch. It is spiritually damning as much as it is organisationally divisive. The attempted remedy may result in something worse than the original problem!

Similar to the item on Driver it is critical to secure the commitment of the whole leadership team–that they are united in their desire to deal with the issues of their church. That commitment is to be reiterated and affirmed at each phase of the consultation.

Authority. I believe that a church consultant must at all times work under the spiritual authority of the church leadership that has invited him, and in particular to the recognised team leader, such as the pastor. Care must be taken that he does not undermine the authority of the leadership nor diminish their esteem in the eyes of the members. As the goal of church consultation is to build up the church the consultant must do everything to help realise it and not do anything that may bring a reverse consequence.

Remuneration. It is very uncommon in Malaysia for invited speakers and itinerant preachers to state their speaking fees or even ask for an honorarium. This is usually left to the inviting church.  Secondly, church consulting is a totally unknown ministry in Malaysia. However, I have observed that once I have explained what I do, people immediately identify me as a “consultant”. Eventually they get round to ask about my fees. Still, I feel that it is premature to speak about fees as church consulting is not something that people in Malaysia, leaders included, appreciate nor understand.

My philosophy is to ask the inviting church to cover all my expenses, such as: travel, meals and accommodation. As for honorarium, it is best left to the discretion of the church. To help the church gauge what might be a reasonable amount I will append in my report an explanation of the work I’ve done and the man-hours taken to do it.

My Philosophy of Church Consulting (Part 1)

I believe that Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church, wants all His churches to do well, and fulfil His mission, aka the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20). However, the sad reality is that many churches are unhealthy, and hence, ineffective. I do not believe that churches should remain in this state. Something can be done and must be done. I believe church consultants can point pastors and church leaders in the right direction. This is why I am stepping into the work of church consulting; apart from, what I believe is the Lord’s calling for me in this final lap of my ministry journey.

The work of church consulting (what) is simply and primarily coming alongside pastors and leaders to help them with the development of their churches. It may involve studying the church, providing solutions and assisting the executors in the implementation of those solutions. During this time there might also be a need for the consultant to offer coaching, training and ministry to the leaders and the implementation team in particular, and to the church in general, so that they are empowered to lead the change. I call this the Empowering Process, as shown in Diagram 1 above.

When it comes to helping or consulting a church there is no one size fits all. There is no one solution that will solve the problems of all churches. Every church is different. Each one has its own particular problems that are to be identified through prayer and discernment in the Spirit, and from a studied analysis of the church.  This is then followed up with wise custom-made solutions.

If a church has not done a comprehensive church health analysis, it would be a good first step to take. Such an analysis will help to objectively identify the real issues of the church. Notwithstanding, the leadership may determine the area of consultation they require.

Diagram 2 below sets out the Empowering Analytical Process to determine the what and how of the consultation.

The flowchart also details the methodology showing how a study of a church might be done. The first step is always to gather extensive and accurate information. This is done through asking for church data, conducting surveys, audits and  interviews, and from personal on-site observations. The information is then studied and analysed, conclusions drawn, and recommendations made to help the church become healthier or, to resolve the defined issue.

(Click on the link to Part 2 below on other aspects of my philosophy of church consulting.)