Several years ago I began having some measured levels of success in growing my church. In fact, it grew VERY well. As a result, I began having other pastors and churches ask me if I could come in and share some of our “secrets of success.” They weren’t really secrets of course. They were simply principles and practices I had learned from Rick Warren, John Maxwell, Bill Hybels and anyone else I could steal from. But I was cheaper than trying to bring in those guys, so they asked ME. The pastors and churches were almost always very grateful (I even got paid a few times!) and some began to grow on their own.
I had become ‘An Expert’. That is, everywhere except at home. At my home church, I was still just Pastor Steve and my board would fight me over every change I tried to make.
Has this ever happened to you? Many of you have probably gone through the maddening experience of reading a book, attending a conference or coming away from an event CONVINCED this is God’s direction for you and your church. You prepare your pitch, you cast your vision and you wait for your board to jump up on their chairs in excitement! And you’re still waiting… Instead cheers, you get jeers. Instead of pumping fists, you get push back. Instead of nodding heads, you get blank stares. What’s the problem? Sorry to say this, but it’s YOU. You’re not an expert. At least, not to THEM. Experts are those guys “out there”, not this guy right here.
Let me give you a few reasons why someone from the outside can help you:
1) Experts can say things and they aren’t “self-serving”. This is especially true when you’re trying to move your church to a governance model or anything that might smack of you as a pastor getting more power or money or freedom. When YOU talk about those things, you’re being greedy. When “experts” talk about those things, they’re being insightful.
2) Experts can talk about the “elephants in the room.” Sometimes the thing that needs to be said is just too hard to say. The difficult board member, the off-tune worship leader, the power-hungry treasurer (just shout AMEN when I hit yours!). Experts make observations. If you talk about them, you’ll just make enemies.
3) Experts can give examples your church hasn’t seen. I think that one of the most powerful things I’ve done for churches is share my experience, not my theories. When I say, “This is what we did and this is what happened as a result”, it’s no longer just an idea. It’s a fact. It’s really hard for people to argue FACTS (though some will still try!).
These reasons and a dozen more are why I think having organizations like HGC and other experts come in is so necessary. Your people simply hear outside resources with different ears and hearts.
When I spoke at a pastor’s conference in Western PA several years ago, I did a session for lay people only while the pastors were all in a business meeting. I called the session “Ten Things Your Pastor Wish You Knew”. I spoke from the heart about the issues, challenges and pains of ministry, both personal and professional. Later, after the session, I had a pastor pull me aside and ask, “What did you say to my people?” “Why?” I asked. He said, “Two of my people came running up to me and hugged me and with tears said, “We’re so sorry. We didn’t know what all you went through!” That was one of those days I loved being an expert. Now, can I just get one of you guys to come do that for ME?!