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5 Ways to Change Your Church Culture By Hiring a Consultant

"Consultant". Somewhere along the lines, it became a four-letter word in the Church. Whether you are one or you're looking to hire one, "consultant" (and his big brother "consultancy") became a scarlet letter that told others, "What we're doing isn't working." But it's not your fault you think this way, really. What comes to your mind, right now, when you think of the word "consultant"?

  • Full of hot air?
  • Vaporware?
  • Cheat? Liar? Schemer?
  • Snake-oil salesman?

We've been trained to be en guarde towards anyone who tries to tell us what to do! Consultants in any field get a bad rap because, well, there are plenty of bad ones out there! For every one well-researched, informed and helpful industry consultant out there, there are 10 swindler-cheat-blowhards who are just looking for a way to make a quick buck. Including (especially?) the church world.


Do you know the number one thing you'll never hear from a consultant? "You're right. We're billing way too much for this." Hiyo!

What To Do When Consultancy Works

All joking aside, there are legitimate and necessary reasons when your church or ministry may need to consider bringing in a consultant. Sometimes there are challenges facing an organization that can't be ironed out without getting an extra set of eyes and ears trained on the problem.

We've all been in situations where we've felt the weight of a stagnant culture that we're powerless to change. An unstoppable-force-meets-immovable-object kind of battle. If that's you, here are three reasons to consider using a church consultant.

Reason #1: Consultants Expose Blind Spots

Have you ever been accused of having selective hearing? It's not just a made-up term that wives like to use with their husbands! (Huh?) It's an actual cognitive effect where the brain selectively concentrates on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other stimuli. We usually fall victim to selective hearing in situations we're most familiar with, thus magnifying its insidiousness. We ignore new input to our own peril for the sake of maintaining our perceived reality.

Consultants can help you see your situation from a different perspective. They are objective and mostly impartial. Most often, church consultants know little about the internal dynamics (a.k.a. "land mines") of the organization. This helps you get the fresh perspective on the beauty and blunders of your organization. The blind spots.

Consultants can point out what you've been missing without even realizing it.

Reason #2: Consultants Provide New Solutions For Old Ruts

Let's say there's a pervasive problem in your organization. Say the children's ministry can't seem to push past a certain number of VBS registrations. Year after year, no matter how much the church grows, there seems to be a ceiling on the number of kids in the program. You've been around the mountain as a staff and can't pinpoint the cause or the subsequent solutions.

Here's where a consultant comes in handy. They can come in and see that even though the surrounding population has grown by leaps and bounds, the summer marketing efforts haven't. Those new families moving into the area haven't had the VBS offerings of your church communicated to them.


You thought you tried everything, but this simple solution was found not through re-hashing the same problems, but because a new set of eyes saw the problem for the first time. A consultants eyes are trained to look for cause-and-effect where your a staffer's eyes only see cause-and-ohmygosh-tear-my-hair-out-if-this-doesn't-get-fixed. Consultants also have the benefit of being free from the din that dominates our ability to see when we're familiar with a solution.

Consultants help you realize what you knew intuitively, but couldn't prove.

Reason #3: Consultants Provide a Safe Place to Vent

Last, and certainly not least, consultants provide a safe space for your staff to vent. When you work with the same folks everyday, sometimes those people, well, annoy us.

  • Johnny's lazy and doesn't care.
  • Billy's been coasting at his job for years and no one wants to confront him on it.
  • Suzy bulldozes every conversation she's in and no one will stand up to her.
  • Sally's late to every meeting and gets upset when people don't wait for her.

Sound familiar? Sometimes it's not easy to confront your co-worker about their bad attitude/poor performance/ingrown toenails without permission from someone else. Consultants can grant that permission.

I've seen wonderful, godly people totally unleash on one another in consulting sessions. Every gripe, complaint or annoyance bubbles to the surface and boils out over everyone. Why is this a good thing? Because it gets brought out into the light.

Consultants can help clarify the problems, clean up the wounds and provide solutions going forward. Win-win.

Consultants as Staff Pastors

I've heard consultants sometimes referred to as "staff pastors." I love that title. It fits.


Because most people tell their pastors things they'd never tell another soul. Consultants can be that safe space people are looking for to talk through their problems with the other people on staff. Consultants can also give church staffers the tools to clarify and resolve conflict quickly and biblically.

Our consulting experience at Monk Development centers around communication and web consulting, but it's amazing to see what gets brought up during these sessions. Communication strategy and execution is the backbone of any church. When you start poking and prodding those nerves, the good gets better and the bad gets bumpier. A consultant can lance the boil and provide the anesthetic and bandage needed after-the-fact.

Has your church ever utilized the help of a consultant? What was the experience like? Positive? Negative? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!