Parish Consultants: Introduction to 'real tools for real churches'
March 08, 2016
“And he said, ‘How can I (understand), unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” Acts 8:31
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” The Beatles
“Hey Barb, you got a minute?” The pastor’s voice came through the phone receiver one morning not long ago.
“Sure, what’s up?” I answered, settling into a comfy chair with a cup of coffee and the cat.
“It’s this whole welcoming thing,” he began, and for the next hour, he talked about an ongoing project at the church he serves. They had been working hard to open their doors to the community in real and tangible ways. Sometimes it was easy and exciting. At other times, like right now, it was a real challenge.
This pastor wanted to keep moving forward, but it was tricky to balance all the competing voices in his church. And in his own head. He needed a neutral party with a keen ear, someone who’d hear him out and keep him honest about what was at stake.
I’d been a sounding board and a strategist for him and the church as they embarked on this journey of opening to their community. Today’s conversation was another component of helping this pastor show up as his best self, so that his church could more fully embody God’s mission.
For the next few months, the New England Parish Consultants will be writing articles in a series entitled, “Real Tools for Real
Churches.” We will be offering some concrete, practical tools for ministry, for outreach, for discipleship, for faith.
But this first article isn’t about a tool at all. This first article is an offer.
And the offer is this: You don’t have do it alone.
You don’t have to run your church alone. You don’t have to figure out the next steps of ministry alone.
Your church doesn’t have to do it alone, either. Figure out its place in the community. Know how to restructure its Sunday School. Sort out the conflict about which hymns to sing.
You don’t have to do any of it alone. We’ll help you find a way forward.
I’m not saying we have immediate answers for whatever situation you are facing. We Parish Consultants offer expertise in specific areas like church revitalization, conflict mediation, and leadership development. We have great resources and creative approaches for ways to assess your situation and find strategies to move forward.
But we won’t just come in and tell you what to do. First, we’ll listen as you describe your frustrations and your dreams. We’ll offer wisdom and guidance as you identify the best outcomes and clarify your role. We’ll help you plan the necessary steps for success.
We understand the terrific mix of potential and struggle that exists in many local churches. We know how hard it is to lead people into the future when they are longing for the ways things used to be. We can hold you accountable to your highest dreams for yourself and for your church. Sometimes the best intentions can get buried in an unexpected crisis, or in the reluctance to disappoint people, or in the simple busyness of church life. We’ll help you recognize where you got off-course so you can realign with where God is calling you to be.
All you have to do it pick up the phone or send an email. The first intake conversations are already paid for, thanks to your mission shares.
You don’t have to “do church” alone.
Rev. Barbara Lemmel is coordinator of the New England Parish Consultants. To inquire about a consultant or for more information, contact Rev. Lemmel at (802) 881-3267 or firstname.lastname@example.org