10 Times When Church Consulting Doesn’t Work Well

I’m a church consultant, but I make no claims that consulting always leads to success. In fact, here are times when consultations usually don’t produce needed change:

  1. When the church waits too long to ask for help. Frankly, that often happens. Churches that are far down the slope of decline find it more difficult to respond positively to a consult.
  2. When the senior leader is not on board with the process. I’ve seen this issue hinder a consult so many times that my team doesn’t do consults now unless the senior leader is supportive.
  3. When a group of staff leaders “force” the consult on the church. When that happens, laypersons usually don’t see the need – and thus they’re not on board with any proposed solutions.
  4. When the church has a history of ignoring such reports. We hear about this kind of history in interviews. “How do we know that we’ll do anything with the report?” “You know that we’ve done this before, right?” 
  5. When the primary person seeking the consult has an axe to grind. Sometimes it’s a staff member angry with the senior pastor, or the senior pastor who wants support for his position. A consult that starts with bias usually doesn’t end well.
  6. When the church wants an answer overnight. Problems develop over years, and answers usually require much time as well. Instantaneous solutions don’t typically work.
  7. When the church wants a solution that requires no change. If they want growth without change, correction without struggle, or a renewed vision without honest analysis, a consultation will likely be ineffective.
  8. When the consulting team has a one-size-fits-all solution for all churches. In that case, the team treats the church as a project rather than a local, unique, body of Christ.
  9. When the consulting team under-respects the role of pastor. My experience is that the best consultants keep pastors involved and informed, even when a pastor may be part of the problem.
  10. When the consulting team and the church pray too little for God’s wisdom. Consultations that are based solely on human ingenuity and programmatic approaches often miss insights gained through Holy Spirit-inspired wisdom.

If you know church consultants, say a prayer for them today. 


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