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EPISODE #87 – Should your church seek outside counsel?

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EPISODE #87 - Should your church seek outside counsel?

Find out what special song Bob once sang on Father’s day

Should your church get a consultant?

  • Short answer, yes. It is wise to receive counsel
  • Longer answer – only if it is the right kind of consultant

What type of consultant should your church seek out?

  • One with experience in failure and success
  • One with recent experience
  • One who asks good questions
  • One who is focused on the right things

Next week we will discuss how to know if your church is ready for consultation

[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: Here we are back at the bootcamp. And I’m coming to you from the senior adult ladies Sunday school classroom of shady Grove Baptist church in Batesville, Mississippi.

Bob Bickford: Yes,

two whiteboards behind you, Jimbo, and a map of Paul’s missionary journeys.

JimBo Stewart: Yup. I can show you the missionary journeys also have the, Seat pads for all the seats, which is how I know I’m in the senior adult ladies class. and we got flowers in a vase, nice little table over here with your missions, giving, offering envelopes and, and so sweet church. I got to preach here for mother’s day.

I did not wear a full suit, but I did have a tie on and I did preach. Through the King James old King, Jimmy and Adria sang a special about mamas and the kids passed out gifts to all the mamas in the place. It was a good old, good old Sunday [00:01:00] at shady Grove Baptist church.

Bob Bickford: So what song? It’s not Christmas. So you didn’t see Christmas shoes.

JimBo Stewart: No it wasn’t Christmas shoes.

Bob Bickford: what song did Adria sing about mamas

JimBo Stewart: Man to be honest, I don’t know. I’d never heard it before in my life.  She did a good job. We’ll have to ask her,

Bob Bickford: mamas? Don’t let your babies grow up to be Cowboys. Was it

JimBo Stewart: no, no. She kept joking. She was going to do Johnny Cash. His mama tried.

Bob Bickford: Okay.

JimBo Stewart: she, she just picked some song. I honestly, it’s a song I used to sing with her mama as a special, when she was a kid, I think. And then I think she, I think she like changed some of the words to make it even more mama focused.

Bob Bickford: Oh, were there, where there any tears that were shed during

JimBo Stewart: I don’t know. So, so here’s the other interesting thing is this church has the wings off. So like there’s the, there’s the pulpit. And then just to the left, to the right of the pulpit, there’s like the little wings there. Well, Audrey is mom, the first [00:02:00] lady of shady Grove Baptist church. Sits in the corner of the wing where you can’t see her.

and so we decided to sit with her with her as she hid in the corner. And so I really couldn’t see anything, but the stage as Audrey was singing.

Bob Bickford: That’s where she always fits. She always sits there.

JimBo Stewart: I think not always. I think she kind of jumps around all over the place, but, we have a good relationship? So I made a little little dig at her in the, in my introduction about her hiding in the corner.

Bob Bickford: Nice.

JimBo Stewart: her my mother in love. I have a great relationship with my in-laws. So

Bob Bickford: Hey, little known fact, before we jump into the topic of podcasts, but Jimbo, I actually saying special music for a church when I was a worship leader for awhile. You may not know that

JimBo Stewart: didn’t even know you were a worship leader for awhile.

Bob Bickford: for a while, just for awhile, not a professional worship leader, but, I, I could get the job done for awhile  on father’s day, Jimbo. I sang a special song. And do you want to guess what that song was?

JimBo Stewart: Good. Good father

Bob Bickford: No Jimbo. That [00:03:00] was like just last week, then that song was fired. This was years ago, Jimbo saying one of the most, your songs in all of contemporary Christian music back in that era. Jimbo, I sang butterfly kisses

on father’s day.


JimBo Stewart: Can You give us a bar real

Bob Bickford: No, I cannot, I cannot give you a bar, but little known fact, Bob Bedford saying Bob Carlisle song, butterfly kisses on a Sunday morning.

Jim bell, there were a few people crying and it wasn’t because I was a bad singer. It was just because of the song, the song evokes evokes some tears.

JimBo Stewart: look the golden guru with the golden boys.

Bob Bickford: Yes.

JimBo Stewart: I can do a good radio announcer voice, but that is about as close to music as I’m going to get.

Bob Bickford: I know we’ve already established that you can carry a two, two notes and then it falls apart from there. Right.

JimBo Stewart: Some reason, man. I don’t know if it’s my dyslexic brain or what, but I just, I just can’t do it for very long. I, [00:04:00] I I’ll I’ll lose it. So if you asked me to lead worship, you know what I would do

Bob Bickford: you would play on Nathan Drake,

JimBo Stewart: exactly,

Bob Bickford: hymns.

JimBo Stewart: exactly what I would do. I would pull out my phone and I would say I’ve got it. Just the thing for you.

Bob Bickford: Yes. So if you don’t know who Nathan Drake is catch up from, uh, couple of bootcamps ago, he was the worship leader and, uh, we’re trying to buy him a new chair and some headphones. So check that episode out.

JimBo Stewart: Yes, absolutely. Man. I’m excited to get on here with you and record. This is going to be recording a couple of weeks in advance, because of some travel, but here’s what I’ll tell you what I’m excited about. And I’m in, in the next couple of weeks before this goes live, this will be more real or come out.

there, but it came out officially today in a news report that Tim Teebo is in negotiation with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

To be a tight end.

Bob Bickford: Well, I might have to leave my beleaguered [00:05:00] and beloved Dallas Cowboys and become a Jacksonville Jaguars fan. you know, because you got, Trevor Lawrence and you got Tim Tebow, you’ve got two strong Christian guys. You got some guys that are, you know, really nice, good dudes. And then you got Jacksonville and you live in Jacksonville and I love you.

And now I love Jacksonville. So.

JimBo Stewart: Go

Bob Bickford: I think I’m a Jacksonville Jaguars fan right now.

JimBo Stewart: plenty of room on the bandwagon to jump on. our, our buddy Cal Bierman texted me earlier today. He said, I’m imagining it now. It’s a beautiful October day. And Trevor Lawrence throws a pass to Tim Tebow. He gets a touchdown and it’s free. Chick-fil-A for everyone.

Bob Bickford: Yes. Is that the way it works, man?

JimBo Stewart: I don’t know. I think maybe I think, I think when, when Trevor Lawrence throws a touchdown pass to Tim Teebo, everyone in the country gets free. Chick-Filet that’s how it works.

Bob Bickford: All right. Well, maybe could, um, the local eatery there though. What’s cooking eatery. Could they get in on a sponsorship with, Tim Timbo and Trevor and works?

[00:06:00] JimBo Stewart: What’s cooking got shut down.

Bob Bickford: Oh, okay.  Was it the murder or was it the, uh, egg in a hole, but they couldn’t get a basket or they couldn’t do,

JimBo Stewart: I don’t know, man, I don’t know. There’s probably a number of things.

Bob Bickford: We better start talking about Noah, our topic.

JimBo Stewart: right. Let’s we gotta we’re we’re seven minutes in. We got to jump in. All right. Here’s. What we want to talk about today is, in the midst of everything going on more and more, we see, Church consultants out there. People offering church consultation, associations are getting trained to be consultants through North American mission board.

Hundreds of association leaders have been trained through that to help some churches figure some things out. There’s all this stuff out there. And here’s the deal one. Should you, I want to ask that we didn’t talk about this, but I want to ask this question first and I don’t want to spend too long on it, but should your church.

Hire or retain somehow someone from the outside to [00:07:00] consult. And if so, how do you figure out who that’s going to be? And then how do you, and then lastly, how do you know that your church is even ready to receive consultation? And so I want to, I want to frame it this way first, because when we use the word consultation, I think when we use words like that, Sometimes we, we quickly lose ourselves and like, well, that’s just very businessy language, right?

In my mind, in a perfect world where consultation is biblical. Then in my mind, I, the passage I think about is Galatians chapter six, verse two. Right? So in Galatians chapter six, it says that if you have a burden too heavy than those who are spiritual, should help you. Carry that burden and therefore fulfill the law of Christ and really that pass.

It also talks about carrying your own load, which is your responsibilities. Nobody else can carry your responsibilities. You have to carry your own responsibilities. And in the Greek, that word insinuates that it’s something that you carry in your day pack, as [00:08:00] on a journey, but then on the burden, it, the Greek gives us the connotation of something that’s too heavy for one person to carry.

And so in my mind, when a consultant of some form, whether they come from a local association or something, or wherever does the thing, right then it’s Galatians six, two fulfilling the law of Christ helping you carry something. So, one let’s start off question one. Should you get a consultant question two.

If, so what, how do you decide who that should be? And then question three. How do you even know if your church is ready to receive outside consultation?

Bob Bickford: Yeah, great questions. the first one, I think you, you can answer it a couple of ways, but I’ll just say this probably the answer most of us should come up with is Yes. Here’s what, when we’re leading a local church, we have a particular point of view that is shaped and formed by the context of that.

And so we are, often, [00:09:00] Blind to things that are just part of that context that may not make sense, or that may not be, effective or that people have questions about. Right. And so, we may be blind people talking about, and I think you mentioned this on a podcast. One time you talked about the. The fact that some people are nose blind, right?

And if you, if you are a cat lady and you got a thousand cats in your house, and you’re just used to a thousand cats, then your nose want that you walk in and it just seems normal to you, but an outsider comes in and that doesn’t seem normal. So I think churches can become blind. So, and I think, yes, it is the, probably the right answer for that first question.

JimBo Stewart: I would agree. I think We obviously would not want to answer the first question without answering the second question, but just to the, to the simpleness of the first question, should you be willing to let someone give you outside perspective? Yeah, absolutely. I think we should always be willing to receive wise counsel.

Right? The Proverbs speaks to that in a [00:10:00] lot of different ways. we see it, we see it all throughout the Bible, right. We see Moses with Jethro receives consultation from his father-in-law. We see over and over and over people give outside wisdom into things. And I think, I think it’s shows humility and shows teachability and wisdom to seek that.

Now question.

number two. Where do you seek that from who, who do you ask? Where do you go? If a listener is listening to this and they’re going, Yeah, man, I would love some outside perspective. Where can they find that that is going to be helpful?

Bob Bickford: Yeah, me and I, for the first thing I would just want to stress is within the Southern Baptist family, we have levels of relationships that are local, regional and national. And so one of the things I just would recommend is your local association should be one of the first places you think about considering.

Many of the association leaders, the association of missional strategists, or directors of missions, [00:11:00] they they’ve committed their life. They have some training, they have some resources and are close to you. And one of the big things is that there’s no charge, right? There’s no, no cost involved. And, and so I think if you have a really good association with a good leader, Then you might consider that secondarily, if you have, uh, a pastor like, uh, uh, a long-term pastor, pastor, that’s had some success, a pastor that you relationally connected with that, you know, is a humble, good servant, kind of a pastor.

That’s not just going to try to. Tell you to make a mini version of his church. Right. But it’s going to come in and ask you the questions that you need to be asked to press around and poke around a little bit. I think that would be good. Maybe even Jimbo, a seminary friend who is outside of your context or a former professor, would be, uh, uh, a good person most of the time.

I think, I used to think I would be really drawn to the guys that would do presentations at conferences. And, you know, I’d go to some kind of church growth [00:12:00] conference or some kind of. Andy Stanley type deal or, or be somewhere. And I think, man, if I could just have like 20 minutes with that guy and run my scenario by him.

Cause he, cause what you said from the stage is so awesome and great. Surely he would be able to give me the right answers and the truth is he probably can’t. Right. He, his expertise is related to his situation and he’s principally developed a talk around truths that are translatable into many different contexts, but probably not necessarily yours.

So, and those are, those are some of the people that I would line up first Jimbo to think about reaching out to you.

JimBo Stewart: yeah, I would agree. I think so, just to recap and affirm that if you’re in the Southern Baptist world that we’re in, then you have some built in. consultants, coaches, right there already a part of it in your local association, your state convention, and then even nationally through things like the replant team we might, could get you connected with, with somebody that’s going to be able to help you.

If you’re not in that denomination [00:13:00] or you don’t have access to that, then look around at who would you want to have shaped that? Who would you want to have that bounce off of you? one of the things that we see a lot is coaching and coaching is, is different than consulting, right? And if you can’t get a good consultant, it might be just as if, if depending on the such scenario, maybe even more beneficial to get a coach.

So just to quickly differentiate those two. Consulting is giving advice and sharing experience, education, wisdom, and saying here’s here’s things. I notice here’s some direction you ought to go. Whereas coaching. It’s really asking really good questions and helping you figure out what’s going on. And when I think about coaching, I think about, Proverbs chapter 20 verse five says the purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out And so it’s this idea of just asking good questions I would even say a good [00:14:00] consultant is going to spend a lot of time coaching you asking good questions.

here’s a great illustration in my life that I, I use to help me understand that when I was in, college, I got my bachelor’s degree, studying theater and with an emphasis in directing and as I was studying, directing. One time. I got to be an assistant director to the head of our department at the time, Mr.

Oprah Quave and Mr. Ober Quave,  it was a nationally renowned and recognized the ethical director with all sorts of accolades and everything. It was a pretty big deal that I got to,  work under him. And he was directing this actor on this specific line in a way that he wanted him to say it. And he just kept asking him questions.

And naive, ignorant little me did not understand why he was just asking questions. And so like an absolute arrogant moron. I just jumped in and looked at the actor and said, what [00:15:00] Mr. Quaive is trying to get you to see is that you need to say the line like this. And I say the line, the way that Mr Quave wanted it said, and I wasn’t wrong about how he wanted it said, but.

If Mr. Quave could have killed me with his eyeballs at that moment, he, he tried, it. He told me to, he told me succinctly to sit down and shut my mouth and that we would discuss this after rehearsal. And so I put my tail between my legs. I sat down and I, after rehearsal, he came to me and he said, he said, two very important lessons.

You need to learn right now. One, you’re not the director. So keep your mouth shut. You only say things. If I ask you to say things, two, even more importantly, and this was, this was the, this was the gold right here. Never, ever, ever give an actor aligned reading ever. He said, here’s why, if you give an actor a line reading, they will only mimic what you did. [00:16:00] And whenever, whenever stagefright hits and they go blank on stage, they’ll have nowhere to pull from and it’ll be a disaster.

But if you’ll just ask them really good questions and help them come to a conclusion of why that, character would say that line at that moment, in that way. And they know the subtext, they know the motivation, they understand everything about that line. They may not say it exactly the way you want. But if they go blank, they’ll have a deep well to draw from and they’ll know what to do. Right. So here’s what I say about coaching with consulting. If I go into a church and here’s, I tell churches this, I say, if I just tell you what to do, then when it becomes painful, and it will become painful, you’ll stop.

And you’ll just think that I gave you bad advice. Because you’ll go, this is what Jimbo said to do, and this seems really painful. But if we go through a process of asking questions and self [00:17:00] discovery and you come to a conviction from your time in prayer, and it’s led by the Holy spirit, through the word of God, through good discussion and discovery, then there’s a conviction to it.

And when it becomes painful and it will, then you have conviction there that will carry you through it. So I would say, if you can’t get a good consultant, get a good coach, but a good consultant is a good coach. And so yes. Get somebody get, get wise advice to get somebody that’s not just after your money kid, somebody that, that is going to ask more questions than just tell you.

what to do, and ask about churches that they have consulted and have those churches actually revitalized.

Right. Like if they’re like, well, I’ve consulted 75 churches, man. That’s awesome. That’s really cool. Out of those 75 churches, how many of them saw noticeable revitalization over a sustained period of time?

Bob Bickford: Right. [00:18:00] I think let’s let’s factor in statistic that Rainer always throws out that 80% of revitalizations fail. And so whatever number, I mean, give the guy some grace, because most churches really struggled to put into practice. these good things that they discover on their own are the things that are recommended to them.

so I don’t think you have to have a guy that’s got like a hundred percent track record, but you’ve got to have some, you got to have some success, some measurable type of influence that this individual has had over the churches. And I would say. It’s best. If you can find somebody who’s actually done replanting or revitalizing that can actually, has been in the battle and knows the scar, it has the battle scars and can, can read the situation and really tell you what it’s like in the trenches and survived or.

You could also learn from somebody who tried it and failed. So, uh, so I think that there’s, there’s kind of that dual side of, of coaching and consulting that you want. Somebody that’s had had actually done it. And I would also say my recommendation is somebody who’s probably done it recently.

[00:19:00] Right. Somebody who’s, who’s got now experienced because here’s what we, we can say with a hundred percent certainty and accuracy, the way we lead the church right now in 2021 is not the way we led the church in 2016, 2017. And even, even earlier than that, right, the game has absolutely changed fundamentally because of COVID.

And because of the acceleration and change in our culture. So, you want to find somebody and this is something going forward is like, you know, who are the ones that are going to be able to help us navigate in the next season of leadership and change in the church? Probably the ones that are leading right now, through it and have endured it.

And to at least in 20, 20, 20, 19, 20, 20 and 2021. So that was just some things maybe to keep in your back pocket and think, think about for the future.

JimBo Stewart: Yeah, Going back to what you said about percentage of success. If a guide boast 100% success, I probably wouldn’t try it. That guy.

Bob Bickford: Yeah, because why isn’t he retired on a beach somewhere?

JimBo Stewart: Yeah. And, and, [00:20:00] and if he’s never here, I would a hundred percent say this. If he’s never tasted the deep well of failure,

Bob Bickford: Yes.

JimBo Stewart: don’t listen to a word. He has to say,

if he couldn’t do a stupid things I did and survived episode with us. Then I don’t want to hear what he’s got. I don’t want to hear it.

Bob Bickford: Yeah, that’s true. There’s a fantastic book that I read, several years ago called leading with a limp. And it was combined by a guy named Dan Allander and in it, he talks about the formative experience of failing as a leader. And how that is, is if you look at most of the significant leaders throughout the new Testament and the old Testament, they had some kind of moment, you know, one of those Jacob moments where their, their hip got put out of socket and then they were broken and they, they failed.

And then they led forward with a limp. And I think that’s key.

JimBo Stewart: I would agree that you have to experienced and learned from.  w what [00:21:00] it’s like to have it not go the way that you were planning. and, and so to summarize a recap, a little bit of that, right? Should you, get a consultant or some sort of outside help? Abs absolutely. You should not try to lead alone.

and I want to even just echo that a little bit of. I was, I was listening to a book here recently and it said this, this guy was a pastor of a, of a church and his wife was a, therapist. And she said, here’s what she’s talking to her husband. Who’s a pastor said, here’s what I want. I have 15 to 20 clients.

And because I have 15 to 20 clients, I am required. To have a supervisor that is checking in on how I’m processing and how I’m doing and, and is. Consulting and coaching, meaning in, in everything that I’m doing, because I have 15 to 20 clients, you have X amount of church members that you’re responsible for leading, and you, [00:22:00] you don’t report really to anyone, right? Like you don’t actually get supervised in this scenario. He’s in really by anybody. And so here’s what I’d say is not only should you get outside, like. Yes. Like it should be. You should always have somebody listen, always have somebody that’s speaking into you. That’s asking you hard questions that, can, can say hard things to you.

Whenever you need to hear them can call you out on stuff that you can go to with difficult questions. You, you are not meant to do this alone. No, you will not find that anywhere in the Bible that you’re meant to do this alone, it is unwise for you to even attempt to do so. So one, should you 100% absolutely.

To who should you get? Trusted confidant coaches, people that have been there that have tasted the bitter deep Wells of failure. But I’ve also seen God do some things that know what it’s like to be on the other [00:23:00] side of that coin. guys that notice like in the trenches right there, where you are recently and can feel that, in some way are going to ask good questions.

And so we’ve taken enough time on this that I think we’re going to split to a part two on how to know if your church is even ready. So there’s one thing for you to be ready. But it’s a whole nother thing to know that your congregation is ready. So come back next week. We’ll jump into part two of this discussion about getting a consultation.


church revitalization, coaching, consultant, consultation

Jimbo Stewart

Replant Bootcamp Co-Host

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