The Shrinking Church
Leadership Thoughts for Reversing the Trend


Prologue and Introduction: Intent  and  PurposeThe Shrinking Church

This thread of articles is for clergy and leaders of mainline protestant churches. The purpose is to recognize systemic dysfunctions and leadership gaps that are limiting the effectiveness of the local church and many times are in the way of true and effective ministries. For the full statement, see Post #1 of the ongoing series. The intent is to promote dialogue through, and awareness of, possibilities for growing healthy ministries of any kind.


Post #7:
Hire a Church Consultant – Sucker!



Consultant: any ordinary guy more than fifty miles from home. – Eric Sevareid

The Consultant

The overview of the purpose for the SynerVision Leadership Foundation declares this: “Consultants, seminars and books have promised much to these searching communities and delivered little more than reworked methods from times now long past. Indeed, we are in a time when methods and manuals, quick fixes and weekend seminars, do not provide lasting transformation.”

There’s got to be a better way than to hire a person with “con” as part of their title! Church consultants have a one-size-fits-all process that’s trendy but damaging to creative and inspirational leadership. Moreover, pastors want to hire those whom they trust, namely the same kind of person…clergy. So clergy hire retired clergy as coach and consultant…it sounds like a kind of incest to me.


It’s time to explore options that take clergy out of their comfort zone into an area of personal growth and capacity building. Unfortunately, the business consultant model is even more broken than the church consultant model. The big companies back up a bus full of very high-priced consultants who ask lots of question and leave behind a report/plan/strategy that’s their opinion and sometimes a reframing of what the company leaders were planning anyway. There’s a lot of frustration in corporate cultures about this pattern. Employees, even though they are paid for the time spent with these consultants, resent the process and are not willing to buy in to the results.

In the church, the planners must be the doers. Many times, a consultant works with leadership and then pushes the plan out to the board, staff, and committees as a completed document. There’s no buy-in and no change in engagement with the stakeholders. Basically, it’s not their plan.

Another Solution

Here’s the solution offered by SynerVision Leadership Foundation (SVLF):

If the churches and nonprofits of our nation are to serve in a transformed global context, they must themselves undertake to find their way to transformation as a way of being. SVLF’s mission is to provide opportunities and experiences for searching congregations, nonprofits and communities to discover and bring forth the gift of spirit that lives deep within: within church leaders, within congregations, within nonprofits. It is SVLF’s experience that once in relationship with that redemptive spirit, churches and communities, groups and organizations, can better find their way, can better enact change as a response to spiritful decision-making: a decision-making that realizes the fullness of spirit where once there was only a feeling of scarcity. If we believe that we are what we do not have (money, resources, engaged leadership, effective teams), instead of what we have in abundance (the fullness of spirit), and that is a predominant paradigm in our culture today, we are lost and will stay lost in a wilderness of our own making.


We are, in fact, lost in the wilderness of our own making, and I suggest that hiring a consultant is one of the least effective strategies. The consultant equals “the answer man.” The SynerVision concept is that of a WayFinder, which equals a partner with experience to collaborate and guide the creation of a sustainable, profitable solution. So, you say you’re a nonprofit…but that’s not true…you’re a tax-exempt religious institution. Good stewardship is making profit and then utilizing it for ministry. Spending lots of money on high-priced consultants is not good stewardship.

By the way, I’m not a consultant, even though people want to classify me as one. I’d rather be called an “insultant” or maybe a “resultant.” Ultimately, I’m a Transformational Leadership StrategistTM integrating strategy with performance.


Please comment below.Nonprofit Performance 360 Magazine

Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership StrategistTM

Read about me on Forbes

(c) 2019, Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

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