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The Importance of a Church Consultant/Coach
By: Bill Easum

From church plants to mega-churches, consultants and coaches are in demand today more than ever before. At one time or another, every pastor or congregation has a need of a consultant either to help them over a rough patch or take them to the next level. And, many pastors are discovering that having a coach to work with them after the consultation makes the consultant exponentially more effective.

Our world is changing so fast it's hard for most church leaders to stay abreast of the changes and shepherd a church at the same time. So many radical cultural changes, so many books to read, so many church examples to see, it's mind-boggling. In today's climate, it's a sign of strength to partner with a consultant and/or coach who has been where your church wants to go. There's no sense in stepping on land mines that could be avoided when seasoned guides are available. A seasoned consultant/coach can actually save a church money and heartache. Often, one recommendation saves the church more than the cost of the consultation.

So what does a church look for in a consultant/coach?

In the 1980s, there were only a handful of internationally recognized church consultants. Today, there are dozens of internationally recognized church consultants and hundreds of unproven church consultants with little to no track record. So, care must be taken in selecting a consultant to set up shop in your church. They can do a church great good or great harm. 

When selecting a consultant/coach, nothing takes the place of experience and a proven track record of helping churches reach their desired goals. No church needs to hire an arm chair consultant. Just because a person or group are inexpensive and close to home doesn't make them an effective consultant or coach. Ask for references. Check out their website and client list. Talk to a pastor friend who has used their services in the past. But don't settle for "whomever" when making your selection.

A good consultant/coach should bring at least the following five strengths to the consultation.

A track record of actually having done what the consultant teaches and recommends in the consultation

Experience in working with your size church, 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

These strengths are necessary for a consultant/coach to be able give sound advice to a church. It's one thing to have all the data; it's another to know how it all goes together in a certain context. If a consultant/coach has actually done what a church needs done, and has helped other similar churches achieve the same goal, the odds of a church receiving effective advice is radically improved. 

When Might a Church Need a Consultant or Coach
The one and only reason a church needs a consultant or coach is to focus and equip God's people for mission and multiply disciples. Having said that, there are many situations in which a church will find a consultation to be particularly effective.

Most churches call in a consultant or secure a coach when trying to stop a decline, move off a plateau, deal with crises, grow to the next level, get a new pastor, retrain their staff, design a new ministry, or shift to a new paradigm. A consultant/coach might also be needed when the demographics of your primary mission field changes resulting in a need to change your mission tactic.

The bottom line is if your church isn't reaching its potential and you feel that something is wrong or needs to be tweaked or you are passionately looking for more ways to transform your community, it's time to call in a consultant/coach who can help you make God's dream come true in your church.

Bill Easum is president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christian for global impact, www.churchconsultations.com.

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