Why Church Consultations Fail

Why Church Consultations Fail

Church members often expect a silver bullet. I’ve learned over the years that church members can see a consultation to be like taking a car to be serviced and repaired. Once a few issues are handled, the car (or the church) is like new, and they can get back to business as usual. Church members are ready to accept change until the change affects them. When church members hear the caution that a consultant will likely recommend changes for the church, they often accept that they are fine with it. And they are fine with it until it affects them personally. 

I did my first church consultation in 1988. Since then, I have been involved in hundreds of consultations of different ilk and varying depth.

I am not the brightest person, but I can lead a church consultation with ease. I am glad, because we had more consultation requests in 2023 than I have ever seen in my experience in this ministry. The ease by which I consult is not due to my intellect, but to the fact that I have done so many. Patterns develop. Solutions become obvious. Objections can be anticipated.

When a church leader contacts us to discuss a consultation, that leader often asks us about our “success rate.” For most church leaders, they define success as a numerical turnaround. Others have a specific problem they want us to solve. For them, the consultation is a success if the problem goes away.

So, how do we answer the question? What is our success rate? If you define success like church leaders did in the previous paragraph, our consultation success rate is only about one-half.

In case you did not read closely, I want to say it again. We only succeed in our consultations in one out of two cases. That is 50%. That is abysmal.

But on the positive side, we’ve learned the one major factor that most often determines success in church consultations. Let’s look at that one key factor. You might be surprised.

The Main Factor

I love my primary physician. He is not only a great doctor, he’s a very good friend. Though I don’t frequent his office that much (I am thankful for good health), I do enjoy (most of) the visits. Recently, we got into a discussion about his “success rate.” He is considered one of the best diagnostic physicians in the business.

Though my doctor did not give me a quantitative success rate, he did tell me that it is lower than he wishes. Of course, I asked him why.

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