‘Consultant’ has become a bad word over the last twenty years. Thousands of people proclaim their expertness and smack the consultant title next to their name. The charlatanism of the industry has made it difficult for churches to find a trusted expert to work with and determine whether or not they need this level of help, to begin with.
First of all, consultants are usually very expensive. Three-day on-site visits can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000 on average. Not only are consultant fees absurdly high, but eventually their time with you comes to an end; this means they told you what to do, took your money, then got out of dodge. Ultimately, the world is full of cash traps designed to take more money than they’re worth from your church in the end.
That’s the reason we started everything.church in the first place. We have a vision that every church should be able to afford a coach and a consultant. We’re not the only great consultants out there, though. Plenty of kingdom-focused men and women of God dedicate their lives to helping pastors and ministry leaders do their best work at churches. So we put together a list of five things every church needs to look for in a potential consultant before hiring them, or signing up for their service.
ongoing support well after services are rendered
This is perhaps the most important thing to look for in a church consultant. They’re most likely great people. They may even be an expert. However, they also need to be able to fall in love with your church enough to keep working with you in perpetuity. This is one of the reasons we built a monthly membership based consultant service at everything.church; Church VIP sticks with a person for as long as they need us. This is a key characteristic to look for when you’re consultant shopping.
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Make sure you ask potential consultants if they’re going to be available for follow-up calls and additional questions. Be weary of popular phrases that consultants and coaches use to describe lesser support in the future, like “email access” to them. Make sure you’re able to send emails back and forth, but also schedule calls to talk about big issues.
coaching and consulting at the same time
Don’t be sold on either one of these without the other. In many ways, clarifying the difference between coaching and consulting is semantics depending on who you talk to. However, we like to differentiate between coaching and consulting for the sake of helping people understand their needs as a ministry leader or pastor. Consulting is telling people what to do, while coaching is going on the journey with them. Never hire someone who isn’t willing to do both of these things.
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We have found that it is utterly impossible to give a church objectively based next steps with a loving heart, and then abandon them when they need the friendship and support necessary to emotionally navigate the murky waters you helped push them into. It just isn’t in our character to abandon the churches we love. Be certain to ask any potential consultant whether or not you can shoot them an email, or schedule a call, with their stresses and concerns. The best consultants are simultaneously, and inseparably, coaches at the same time.
a price that proves they love the church more than their business
Not every consultant out there is trying to rip your church for thousands of dollars in two days, but there are quite a few consultant money pits floating around that could end up being more harmful to your church than helpful. In all fairness, we used to do this too! While we were always on the affordable side of the spectrum, it took us quite a while to crack the code of offering our services at an affordable rate that allows us to keep growing everything.church. We’re not alone in this. Look for consultants that have their business sorted out in such a way that it proves their love for the church above all else.
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We’re living proof that consulting can cost less and offer more. For us, that meant an affordable membership service where we stick with your church for the life of your membership. For others, it may mean more reasonable upfront costs and payment options. There are infinite ways a church consultant can creatively make their work more accessible to the masses. It’s not important how they’re doing it, but it is important that they can prove their love for the church to you through their billing practices.
We’ve even taken it a step further and decided to let churches under 100 in attendance name their own price for our Church VIP “Personal” tier. If a church planter, or small church pastor, can only afford $65/month then that’s what we charge them. We’re here to serve the church first and make profit secondarily.
a comfortably affordable on-site option
On-site visits allow coaches and consultants to make a significant leap forward in understanding the way your church and staff operate. Sadly, consultants often split their services into offerings that separate remote support and on-site visitation. Remote coaching and consulting can be very effective, but we believe that on-site visits really take the effectiveness up a notch.
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Be weary of consultant groups that are willing to bill you more than you’re comfortable spending for a visit. Church VIP Pro includes a yearly on-site visit with the subscription fee; we only ask that the church pay for travel expenses. We’ve taken the steps necessary to ensure every church can afford an on-site visit. The best consultants out there are taking similar steps. They’re making sure you have affordable access to on-site evaluations that would be difficult to administer remotely.
a transparent and accessible organization
If you’re working with a consultant group, you should be able to reach the CEO if you need to speak with them. If you’re working with an individual consultant, you should be able to reach them on their personal cell phone. Ultimately, you should have the ability to reach the people you’re paying for support with some of your most sensitive issues.
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We also believe in transparent business practices. No honest church consultant will have a problem telling you how their organization’s money is spent and where these hard earned consultant fees go. Ask them about their business model and the breakdown of what goes into different spending areas. You can learn a lot about an organization’s ideals from the way they spend their money, and consultants are no exception.
For example, about twenty percent of our Church VIP fees go towards helping us offer services to church plants when they can’t afford a membership. About fifty percent of our fees are used for administrative costs like advertising, daily operations, and outreach. About thirty percent of our fees go towards paying actual coaches and consultants. We’re not perfect at managing our finances, but we are dedicated to being wiser and more generous stewards of our resources every day.
if you don’t work with us, then please work with someone
We’ve found that churches who have an outside group that is willing to make regular investments in their staff, strategies, and systems, experience faster more sustainable growth. So if you don’t want to sign-up for Church VIP and work with us, we strongly encourage you to find someone like us to work with. Remember, you can never get this year back once it has passed. Choose to make some sort of investment in a consultant that’s affordable, accessible, capable, transparent, honest, and loves the church more than anything. They’re out there, and we love them for what they do.
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If you’d like to see whether or not we’re a good fit for the season you’re in, you can try our consulting and coaching service for 30 days free of charge. Just head on over to www.churchvip.com. We think we’re really changing the way church consulting works for churches, and we would be honored for you to become a part of what we’re building.