Working Myself Out of A Job. Consulting Myself Away

leadership, governance, boards, decision making, mission, structure, church

Hopefully, my job is going to be obsolete! I will have done all I can do as a consultant for nonprofits. I will lock up the office and figure out what’s next.

Some consultants want you to be dependent on their expertise. They come in and do the work for you and want to be hired over and over and over again.  But this model of consulting leaves you no better than before- with little understanding, tools and processes for your own organizational health. I want you to learn it all, own it and live it. Don't worry, I will find something else to do when we are done.

Here is the secret that nobody wants to talk about:

a consultant’s purpose is to help you learn so you do the work on your own in the future. Hiring a consultant to help with visioning and strategic planning, leadership development, change initiatives, conflict etc., should help you (as... read more

The Key Question for Your Church’s Organizational Health

 leadership, governance, boards, decision making, mission, structure, church

When most people think about church, very few think of words like governance, staffing, and organizational health. However, the question of how a congregation is organized and governed is critical for leaders who want to have the most impact they can through their ministry. 

Moses knew it (Exodus 18).  King Solomon knew it (1 Kings 4).  So did Peter and the disciples (Acts 6).  For churches to function in healthy alignment with God’s mission for them, leaders need to focus resources, delegate authority, and have intentional systems of accountability.

Five basic organizational components of congregations are:

  • The congregation
  • The board (council, session, consistory, etc.)
  • The pastor(s)
  • The staff
  • The ministries and commissions (committees, ministry teams, etc.)

Ultimately, each component needs to be accountable... read more

KNOW THYSELF: The First Step in Organizational Change

Know thyself, organization change, assessment, strategic planning, leadership

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

-Margaret Wheatley

Have you ever had the conversation with a spouse or friend about where to go out to eat? “I don’t care, wherever” is the worst four words you can hear when planning a night out. If no one cares or puts forth an option, you can spend lots of time volleying back and forth with “I don’t care, wherever. I’m open to anything. I don’t’ know what I want.” One night my husband and I gave up going out entirely and made a frozen pizza one evening because we were so frustrated with our inability to pick a restaurant. It was even a rare date night without kids. That’s just plain sad.

A similar phenomenon exists for organizations as they prepare to move into any kind of change. Someone has to be hungry enough to start the conversation about... read more

HELP! We Took the Survey and Now What? Life after the Vitality, CAT, and LEAD surveys

Congregational surveys are not enough for missional renewal

Many churches had taken the Congregational Vitality Survey, The CAT, or the LEAD Congregational Assessment in the last few years. They come to us not knowing what to do with that information. Leaders ask if they should be making strategic plans, or reworking their mission statement, or aligning their ministries. They ask for help making sense of the data. What is good information? What do we take action on? Where do we go from here?

Quantitative data alone is not enough! It’s not enough to create change, shift culture, create a vision, move a congregation in to alignment of mission. Survey data is important because it tells us some things about areas of strength, challenge, future needs etc. But surveys can't bring people together to hear how God is at work. Quantitative data doesn’t facilitate conversations with neighbors in need, or show us how we might work... read more

Dreading Stewardship

Every fall, leaders of churches around the country get a sense of the “dreads.” What’s the dreads? The definition in this case, it is not looking forward to, or dreading the fall stewardship season. Leaders ask, how can we talk about money in new and interesting ways? How can we get people to give more?

Things seem to be changing, including how we talk about money. People are shifting how they relate with money. For instance, I pay the guy who mows my lawn when we are on vacation, with Venmo, an app on my phone. I’ve never met the guy, I couldn’t tell you what he looks like. But he gets money from my phone app. Bills are on autopay. Checks are cashed remotely. Giving offering used to be an intentional and physical act of counting out cash or writing a check and putting in the offering plate in worship. But it isn’t the only way to give. In fact, if our churches only rely on... read more

3 Things Leaders Need To Do To Prep for Change

Leaders Prep for Change

Deepen Relationships

Leaders should spend extra time building relationships at every level of the organization in preparation for change. In fact, deepening connections should be encouraged for everyone as a precursor to a change initiative or change event. Why? Because healthy connections and relationships increases trust, decreases anxiety and helps create the web of support for healthy change. People feel better in times of chaos or confusion when they are tightly held in relationship.

To Do:

  • Host coffees or Happy Hours
  • Fireside chats with constituents, open office hours, etc.
  • Video blog so others can get to know you as a leader
  • Take people out to lunch or coffee
  • Ask people what support they need
  • Have panel of leaders share about key issues or challenges
  • “Get to Know... read more

Top 5 Reasons Shared Leadership is Good for Your Church

Shared Leadership at work in church. Image curtesy of

Shared Leadership is a model for governance, decision making, and power for congregations that seeks balance between pastors, staff, and lay leaders. It can take many forms in boards or councils, but more importantly, prominent in the culture. Here are 5 benefits of shared leadership for your church:

1. A shared leadership culture is open more varieties of opinions, collaboration, and innovation. This can also mean there is less anxiety and more trust.
A congregational culture that embraces shared leadership puts value and worth on participation, giving voice, and the role of members in the ministry in a new way. This participative nature can include an empowering openness to new ideas, to conversations of discernment and decision making. It often requires articulation of beliefs and goals to unify leadership.
2. Shared leadership... read more

Where Do We Go From Here? Organizational Direction

Vision sets direction. Strategic Plans get you there.

Remember how to plan a trip before the internet and GPS? When I was a kid, my mom would go to the AAA office to get maps, plan the itinerary with the travel agent and order a TripTik (a step by step map set to your destination). The TripTik is an awesome tool for travel planning as it has all the rest stops, gas stations, hotel and food stops listed for every segment of your journey. It was your guide for the trip. The family would pile into our old station wagon for some epic cross-country adventure.

Now, we wouldn’t trade our GPS mapping apps for anything. A faceless voice that tell us where to turn, merge or exit. It helps us venture, further, faster and deeper into unknown territory. It seems we have more courage, and less fear with the guidance of those devices. We rely on... read more