• Brandon Sutton

Why your church needs a consultant

A friend of mine hadn’t been to his hometown in years. When he decided to return, he found the place he once called home completely run down. Businesses were closed. Stores were boarded shut. The streets, houses and buildings were eroding. Needless to say, the place looked horrible.

While there, he ran into an old acquaintance. “What happened to our town?” asked my friend. “What do you mean? It’s the same as it’s always been.” the man replied. My friend’s acquaintance didn’t notice the decline. He’d been there every day for years. For him, the erosion was so slow, he didn’t even realize how much the town had changed.

This is a true story (Thom Rainer, Autopsy of a Deceased Church), but it also serves as a parable for many local churches. When an outsider walks in, many of our churches can seem like a ghost town…a fading representation of what once was.

Sadly, like my friend’s acquaintance, many church members don’t see it. They too have been in the church for so long, they haven’t noticed the slow decay that has been taking place before their very eyes every week. What kind of decay am I talking about? Loss of members. Reduced attendance. Declining budget. Eroding facilities. Aging congregation. Limited first-time guests. No new members. Few, if any, baptisms. We could on, but you get the point. The church has slowly gone downhill.

So, what should the church do about it? Get an outsider’s perspective. When my friend arrived home, he instantly noticed how much the town had changed. Why? Because he wasn’t there every day. He was no longer attached to the town. He was able to look at it objectively and with outsider eyes.

Churches need an outsider’s perspective. If you’re a long-time member of a church, God bless you. We need more people like you, but you’re probably too close to the situation to give real, honest feedback as to how your church is really doing and what needs to happen in order to cultivate health.

The best thing a declining church can do is bring in someone who can evaluate the situation and give solid, biblical advice for moving forward. Getting outside counsel is rooted in biblical principles. We’re told to “listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future” (Proverbs 19:20). Accepting the wisdom of others is important, because “where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

Many churches are hurting and struggling; yet, they don’t have to be. I believe there is hope for declining congregations, but most of them won’t make a turn around by themselves. They need outside help. If your church is in need, I hope you will contact me or another advisor who can be of service to your church.

Thanks for reading!

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