Going on the journey to being a church consultant, or a “Guide” as we call it at The Malphurs Group, is more than a career choice—it’s a calling. Before I joined the leadership team, my path began in the trenches, working directly with churches across the United States. This experience wasn’t just a job; it was the discovery of my true calling. Now, as the Vice President of The Malphurs Group, the thrill of stepping into a new engagement with a church never fades. Each opportunity to be part of God’s revitalizing work is a profound privilege.
Having consulted with approximately 100 churches since 2016, the profound sense of fulfillment that comes from witnessing their evolution is immeasurable. It’s not merely about the numbers; it’s about the individual lives touched and transformed by the gospel. This collective impact on communities and the broader church ecosystem fuels my passion and conviction in this mission.
Yet, the path of a church consultant is marked by both profound rewards and notable challenges. The joy of fostering connections and observing transformation is accompanied by the realization that true change rests in the hands of the church itself. As we delve into the reasons to pursue this calling, we must also acknowledge the demanding nature of this journey, preparing the ground for those truly called to this indispensable ministry.
Let’s explore three key reasons you should become a church consultant (plus one reason you shouldn’t).
Reason 1: Seeing Churches Transform
The heart of church consulting lies in witnessing the profound transformation within congregations, driven by a commitment to the Great Commission. At The Malphurs Group, our Strategic Envisioning process centers around five pillars of church health: a Great Commission focus, discipleship-oriented core values, a clear discipleship pathway, discerning God’s vision for the church, and selecting strategy projects that propel the church forward annually.
For many churches, the journey towards health can feel overwhelming, laden with complexities and past efforts that fell short. It’s here that the role of a Guide becomes pivotal—simplifying the intricate, making the overwhelming manageable, and most importantly, steering the church from stagnation to dynamic growth. Our approach isn’t about being the expert with all the answers but about asking the right questions, clearing emotional clutter, and inspiring church leaders to take meaningful steps towards revitalization.
The transformation story of a church in St. Louis serves as a vivid illustration of strategic change in action. Overwhelmed by an excess of ministries, the church faced significant challenges, including staff burnout and ineffective programming. Through the Strategic Envisioning process, they were able to refine their focus, establishing a discipleship pathway that invigorated their mission and community engagement.
This strategic shift not only rejuvenated the church’s internal dynamics but also enabled them to extend their influence by adopting two declining churches which became campuses with local preaching and worship. This amplified their impact across the region. This journey from stagnation to growth underscores the critical role of strategic planning in unlocking a church’s potential to serve and expand.
Success in this transformative process isn’t solely measured by numbers but by the qualitative shifts within the church—enhanced communication, an influx of newcomers, increased baptisms, and a stronger sense of unity. Yet, the linchpin to lasting change is effective implementation. Our clear, proven implementation strategy stands as a testament to this, with churches that adhere to it witnessing remarkable success.
The journey of transformation is a testament to the power of strategic planning and the indelible impact of dedicated church consultants. It’s about more than just growth; it’s about fostering environments where individual lives are profoundly touched by the gospel, creating ripples of change that extend far beyond the church walls.
Reason 2: Flex Your Entrepreneurial Problem Solving Skills
Being a Guide within The Malphurs Group is akin to embarking on a continuous journey of discovery and innovation. Each church presents a unique landscape, ripe with opportunities for transformation and growth. The entrepreneurial spirit thrives in this environment, fueled by the variety of challenges and the potential for impactful change.
The excitement of this role stems from its inherent variability—no two days are the same. Guides are called to be agile, ready to adapt to new cultures, communities, and congregational dynamics. This adaptability is crucial, as it allows for the tailoring of the Strategic Envisioning process to each church’s specific needs and aspirations.
Entrepreneurial problem-solving in church consulting is not just about identifying issues but also about envisioning the myriad possibilities for a church’s future. It’s about inspiring church leaders to dream bigger, to see beyond the immediate hurdles to what their congregation could become with strategic planning and focused effort. This visioning process is collaborative, with the consultant acting as a facilitator, guiding the church leaders through a journey of discovery and clarification of God’s unique direction for their community.
In this role, consultants often encounter complex problems that require not only analytical skills but also a deep understanding of human dynamics and organizational psychology. Effective problem-solving involves listening intently, asking probing questions, and helping church leaders to view their situation from different perspectives. This approach can reveal solutions that were previously obscured by routine or emotional investment in the status quo.
Innovation is a key component of the Strategic Envisioning process. Consultants encourage churches to explore new solutions to old problems, pushing the boundaries of traditional ministry models. This innovative mindset is balanced with a strong emphasis on change management, ensuring that new ideas are implemented thoughtfully and sensitively to bring the congregation along on the journey towards renewal.
An essential part of being a Guide is fostering a culture of self-sufficiency within the churches we serve. The aim is not to create dependency but to empower church leaders with the tools and frameworks they need to continue their journey of growth and health independently. This empowerment approach ensures that the church is equipped to navigate future challenges, make strategic decisions, and continue on their path of transformation long after the consultant’s direct involvement has ended.
In essence, the role of a church consultant is deeply entrepreneurial, characterized by constant learning, innovation, and adaptation. It’s a role for those who are energized by change, inspired by the potential for transformation, and committed to empowering churches to fulfill their God-given mission.
Reason 3: Deepening Love for the Church
Through my consultancy work, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with a wide array of churches, each with its unique culture and community. This spectrum has been eye-opening, revealing the universal threads that bind us: a commitment to the gospel and a collective mission for Kingdom expansion. Despite the differences in worship styles or community engagement from one church to another, the foundational elements of faith remain constant, fostering a deeper love and respect for the church’s global mission.
The transformation witnessed in a South Carolina church epitomizes the potential for renewal and growth through strategic planning. Post-pandemic, this church faced significant challenges, with declining attendance and a community in need of reinvigoration. The Strategic Envisioning process catalyzed a remarkable turnaround, not just in numbers, but in the palpable sense of hope and community rekindled within the congregation.
When I met with the pastor recently, he seemed discouraged because he was so in the weeds in the day-to-day that he couldn’t see how far they had come. I told him, “If I told you in 2021 where you are today, would you believe me?” This changed his countenance.
Then, on social media a couple of weeks later they posted this story: Last year, we sent out a community survey to households within a certain radius of our church building. Rose was one of the people who received the survey. Rose grew up catholic but decided to give the church a call to find out what we believed at our church. She decided to attend church one Sunday and has been here ever since. A few weeks ago Rose came into the office and gave her life to Christ! Today, Rose was baptized!”
These experiences underscore the essential role of church consultants in facilitating not just structural but heartfelt change within churches. It’s a process that goes beyond mere strategy, touching the lives of individuals and communities in profound ways. The joy of seeing a church come alive, witnessing individuals like Rose find a spiritual home, is what deepens our connection to this work and to the church at large.
Moreover, the journey of consulting has highlighted the pressing need for leadership development within the church. The gap between the demand for guidance and the availability of skilled leaders is stark, emphasizing the need for more ministry-minded individuals committed to the health and growth of the church. This scenario calls for a shift in perspective, where the aim is not making money but a dedicated mission to equip churches with the tools they need for sustainable growth and transformation.
In essence, church consulting can’t be about a paycheck—it’s a calling that enriches one’s faith, broadens one’s perspective on the church’s diversity and challenges, and reinforces the critical need for strategic, heartfelt engagement in church leadership and growth. The experiences, challenges, and triumphs of this work collectively deepen our love for the church and its mission, inspiring a continued commitment to fostering environments where every congregation can thrive and impact lives like Rose’s.
The Reason You Shouldn’t Be a Consultant: It’s Hard.
Misconceptions about Ease
Building a church consulting ministry comes with its unique set of challenges, often underestimated by those outside the profession. One significant hurdle is the lengthy sales cycle involved in securing projects with churches. Unlike traditional business sectors, where deals can be more straightforward and quicker to close, church consulting requires a deep understanding of each church’s unique needs and concerns, leading to extended periods of negotiation and discussion.
Finding potential clients or “leads” is another complex aspect of this field. It’s not just about identifying churches in need of assistance but also about connecting with those open to external guidance. This process demands not only a keen eye for opportunities but also a nuanced approach to outreach and communication.
Building trust and a solid reputation is crucial in church consulting. Churches are not just looking for expertise; they seek a consultant with a proven track record and a deep understanding of the ministry’s challenges and goals. Often, this means consultants need a substantial background in ministry themselves, serving as tangible proof of their ability to empathize with and effectively assist churches.
These challenges underscore the need for patience, persistence, and a genuine passion for church health and growth. Success in church consulting is not merely about applying business principles to religious organizations; it’s about nurturing relationships, understanding the unique dynamics of faith communities, and committing to a long-term process of growth and revitalization.
Commitment Level Required
The depth of commitment required in church consulting cannot be overstated. It’s a profession that demands more than just time and effort; it requires a heartfelt dedication to the mission of the church. Success in this field isn’t measured in quick wins or rapid transformations but in long-term, sustainable growth and health of the congregations you work with.
Building a reputation and trust within the church community takes years of consistent, quality engagement. The process involves not only the projects you undertake but also the relationships you build, the understanding you show towards each church’s unique culture, and the respect you earn through your dedication to their growth. This level of commitment means being ready to invest significant portions of your life into the ministry, often without the immediate gratification of quick results.
The journey is filled with challenges, from navigating the complexities of different church dynamics to continuously adapting to new situations and needs. It requires a consultant to be fully invested, not just professionally but also emotionally and spiritually, aligning with the church’s mission and working tirelessly towards its fulfillment.
This demanding commitment level is a critical consideration for anyone contemplating a career in church consulting. It’s a path that offers immense fulfillment and the opportunity to make a significant impact, but it’s also a vocation that demands your all.
The competitive landscape in church consulting is a significant aspect that requires careful navigation. This field is not just about serving churches but also about distinguishing oneself in a space where many are vying to offer their expertise. The competition isn’t merely a business challenge; it can sometimes distract from the core mission of ministry, turning the focus towards winning clients rather than solely on serving churches’ needs.
However, this competition also serves as a catalyst for consultants to refine their skills, innovate their approaches, and truly exemplify the value they bring to church communities. It pushes consultants to not just be good at what they do but to excel in ways that genuinely benefit the churches they work with. Engaging with this challenge effectively means maintaining a balance between viewing other consultants as competitors and as fellow workers in the broader mission of church health and growth.
Navigating this competitive space requires a blend of humility and confidence, always remembering that the ultimate goal is to serve the church in its mission. It’s about rising above the competition not by undermining others but by demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the church’s growth and well-being.
In conclusion, becoming a church consultant offers the rewarding opportunity to witness and contribute to the transformation of churches, leveraging entrepreneurial skills for problem solving, and deepening one’s love for the church. However, it’s a path that comes with its own set of challenges, requiring a deep commitment, a readiness to navigate a competitive landscape, and a clear understanding of the complexities involved. For those with a genuine passion for church growth and a dedication to the mission, the journey can be incredibly fulfilling, but it’s important to enter with open eyes and a prepared heart.
Ready to check out becoming a Malphurs Group Certified Guide? Visit https://malphursgroup.com/certification to learn more and start the process today.
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Scott Ball is the Vice President and a Lead Guide with The Malphurs Group. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott).