Over the years, it’s come to my attention that many churches have great intentions when they hire a consultant to help their church go to the next level, but when the “expert” shows up and the final recommendations are delivered, it is far too easy to dismiss them because they come from an “outsider.” When a church is facing a transition, the chances of successfully growing through the “glass ceiling,” and realizing sustainable transformation, are unfortunately minimal. Indeed, over 80 percent of all churches that intentionally engage a transformational process will fail and find themselves back where they started – and too often they are significantly worse off.
We’ve studied this phenomenon for several years, doing research in order to understand the dynamics. Once we understood the issues, though, we began creating and testing a variety of solutions. Ultimately, we refined one of our tools, tested it, and have seen significantly improved results with significantly less conflict.
We call the tool we’ve developed The Congregational Leadership Coaching Package. The package is a three year commitment between a congregation and 21st Century Strategies. During those three years, the congregational leadership develops unity in purpose and practice, embraces and models ongoing spiritual formation, establishes an effective conflict resolution process, organizes around the congregational mission, becomes externally aware, engages in leadership development and recruitment, and implements a sustainable transformational process.
The first year begins by engaging intentional trust-building opportunities between coach and congregational leaders through quarterly onsite, half-day training events. These events build a foundation of understanding about the changing cultural milieu and the church’s response. Each training event builds on another, and by the end of the third event, we’ve found that the congregation’s leadership (1) will have developed and embraced a unified mission and vision, (2) will have experienced significant spiritual growth, (3) and will have established a bond of trust between them and their coach.
Once a bond of trust has been established, and the congregation’s leadership has become both unified and spiritually grounded, a three day onsite consultation is called for (see the following section for details). The key difference that we’ve experienced between a three day in-and-out consultation and the Congregational Leadership Coaching Package, is that when recommendations are brought to the congregation, the leadership is not only able to receive them, but are seldom surprised and they are ready to move into implementation more rapidly.
In addition to the quarterly training events, the pastor and the coach meet by phone for a monthly one hour coaching call. During these calls, the pastor and coach discuss leadership practices, prepare for upcoming training events, and work through any congregational and/or leadership issues that arise during the transformational processes.
During the second year, the focus of the coaching shifts from foundation building to implementation. The quarterly training sessions continue during this period, but with an evolving training component that includes additional leadership development, team-building, and increased coaching. During this year, leadership begins the process of developing the practices and programs for sustainable transformation. Depending on the congregation, this could include reorganizing leadership structures, developing significant ministries, remodeling, preparing to add an additional worship service, hiring staff, creating discipleship development processes, etc. In addition, the monthly coaching calls with the pastor continue in order to facilitate the implementation process.
The third year is significantly scaled back, in terms of the onsite coaching. It includes one onsite visit, which is a weekend check-up visit midway through the third year. During this final year, the leadership’s focus changes from putting processes and programs into place to their execution and fine tuning. It is during this year when the congregation can expect significant and sustainable growth. To that end, the coaching calls shift from monthly pastor-only coaching to rotating each month between the pastor; the pastor and staff; and the pastor, staff, and leadership team. This model helps ensure that the transformational process becomes routinized into the congregation’s core practices and that the church’s growth isn’t just numbers, but sustainable transformational growth that lasts and continues.
Midway through the third year we make a one day, onsite check-up visit. The event begins on Sunday morning with a visit to the worship and Christian education events. Following the morning worships, all congregational leaders are invited to a working lunch where we do a debriefing on where the congregation began, how far they’ve come, and concludes with a re-vision casting session that reminds them of what they can expect as they move forward.
Bill Tenny-Brittian is the only consultant currently leading the Congregational Leadership Coaching Package. Again, he uses a sliding scale fee accommodate all sizes of churches. The sliding scale fee is based on congregational average worship attendance. In addition, rather than invoicing the total package at one time, as has been our policy, for this package only, congregations have the option to pay monthly, or annually as their budgets allow. Discounts apply to Annual and Full payment options.