Church Planning — Should You Hire a Consultant?
You're entering a church planning process and wondering if you should hire a consultant. The answer depends on the diversity of expertise contained within your team, the resources at your fingertips, and the need for an "objective facilitator." If you do decide to hire a consultant, credibility is key. Be sure that you've had an opportunity to check references and hear from previous clients. At Leadership Transformations, we do church consulting all the time, but we're also increasingly convinced that many churches have a wealth of expertise at their disposal within their own four walls. We're becoming more and more passionate about empowering churches to help themselves and simply providing them with the tools to stay objective and yet take strong ownership of the planning process. In some cases, such as when there is division among the leadership, a skilled consultant can be helpful in bringing unity and consensus to the group. In other cases, hiring a consultant may be a default decision that might have a much less costly alternative if the church has access to the right tools.
Church Planning — Getting Strategic
Pursuing church health principles instead of church growth principles allows us to focus on the legitimate desire to see our church flourish without some of the impure motivations that might trip us up. As we pursue church health, we'll most likely experience church growth as a by product. This paradigm shift places the priority on keeping our church healthy and trusting God to do the rest. Church health falls easily within our stewardship roles as church leaders. Church growth is God's department and the attendance of the church will ultimately grow or decline in accordance with His will. Most would agree this makes intuitive sense and yet how many of us live each day as if both health and growth were up to us? How many of us are trying to grow our congregations through prescriptive principles and strategic planning? It can be very freeing to focus on what God has called us to do and let Him bring the people.
Church Growth Principles — Keys to Lasting Health and Vitality
In church planning, strategic thinking is vitally important. Let's temper that by acknowledging it's not the end all be all, but there is no question that it's critical to the process. First and foremost, you've got to make sure that you and your team have a solid grasp of the realities that exist in your church setting - both the positives and the negatives. An objective view of reality is tough to achieve through what we call "anecdotal feedback," that which each person on the team gathers from their specific orbit of communication. The best way to establish a baseline of where you stand is to conduct an anonymous survey that invites feedback from the entire church body as to how they see the church.
Church Planning — The Role of Spiritual Discernment
Church planning should also contain a strong discernment component. Consider the fact that each church is like a thumbprint. They
are all unique. No two churches are exactly alike. Therefore, church planning should include a discovery process to determine:
How is our church unique? How is our community unique? What do we sense God is cautioning us about? What do we sense God is
inviting us into at this stage of our ministry?
A church planning process becomes clearer when you've got an objective view of today's reality and a sense of God's leading for the future. This is our simple equation:
Accurate Information + Spiritual Discernment = Increased Clarity
Church Planning — The Importance of Accurate Information
Church planning requires accurate information to determine a solid foundation upon which to plan and build. The first step in any
planning process should be information gathering. Information gathering is important for the same reasons you look both ways
before you cross the street: To evaluate where you are, where you are headed, identify any danger, and make wise decisions going
forward. Leading your church through a planning process is no different. Periodically gathering basic information about your church
environment is essential to knowing which areas are thriving and which need more attention. You've got to know where you are before
you can make a plan toward where you sense God is leading.
Click to download our Free Guide to Church Assessment.
We have developed a powerful web-driven assessment tool based on ten research-driven church health categories. Our Church Health Assessment Tool (CHAT) was designed as a resource for the local church. CHAT does all the work, but keeps you, the church leader, in control of the process. It's automated, easy to use, and allows the survey participants to engage anonymously from the convenience of home or office via the Internet. You'll choose the open and close dates for your survey session and, at the end, receive your CHAT report via email. This informative report will give you key insights into how your church measures up in each of these ten areas. No church is perfect - but if forward progress is the goal, then assessment is the first step toward discernment, planning, and action. We believe in playing to your strengths. God has raised-up your unique church, in your unique setting, for a unique reason. Our goal is to help you get a baseline of objective information about your church's health to serve as the foundation for the discernment process regarding God's unique plan for your church.
Executive Vice President
Christianity Today International, IL
"Steve Macchia is at it again. His burning passion to see churches achieve maximum health has taken the next step. CHAT (Church Health Assessment Tool) provides churches with an easy-to-use look at themselves that could move many congregations toward the health that Steve (and, more importantly, the Spirit) envisions."
New Way Ministries, CO
"Without a doubt, one of the greatest needs of a large number of churches in America is to become more healthy. Leadership Transformations' new CHAT survey should be a great help to all who use it. It is a joy to recommend it to you!"
The Mission America Coalition, CA
Steven A. Macchia
Founder and President