That’s me… I’m a connections strategist! I’ve been searching for a title other than “consultant”–something with a hook… a title that would ask for more. I don’t consult with churches to help them increase the number of people in the pews or the amount of cash in the offering plate. I know nothing about conducting capital campaigns to build bigger buildings (even though I’ve endured a few!). That’s the kind of assistance most church consultants offer, and it can be very helpful.
My experience, however, is in another area which is absolutely essential to the mission of the Church. (And, no, I am not biased! Well, maybe just a little…) I come alongside churches to help them connect their people with the ministry God has prepared for them. I help ministry leaders design processes to engage their people in gifts discovery and serving opportunities–two critical components to spiritual formation.
Christ-followers are called by Jesus to “make disciples.” We can share the Good News and lead someone to pray the Prayer of Salvation, but if we stop there, we have only accomplished half the task. Let me illustrate with a story…
There was once a young man who had gone to Sunday school during his childhood, was baptized and confirmed in the tradition of his church. When he reached a certain age, he drifted away from the church. He wandered down a path that led to alcohol addiction and all the promise of that young life was being lost in a bottle of booze. Then came an event in this young man’s life that brought him to a point of desperation. God intervened in the form of an attorney who was willing to share the Good News and lead the young man back into a relationship with Jesus. The attorney handed the young man a Bible, wished him well, and went on to the next poor soul in need of salvation.
That could well have been “The End”… not only to the story, but to the young man’s “discipleship.” Thankfully, it was not. By the grace of God, there were others who came into the young man’s life and led him back to the fellowship of Christ-followers where he could study the Word of God. That, too, could be “The End” of the story and, at a glance, it looks like a fitting end.
But what happens with knowledge that is never put to use? Haven’t you ever attended a workshop or conference where you learned some really useful tools? You are so excited to get back to your regular routine so that you can try out those new tools, so full of promise. But, back in the real world, you quickly become too busy to apply what you learned and, eventually, it is lost. Sound familiar? The same holds true for Bible knowledge. In order for it to be useful in our spiritual formation, we must apply it to our everyday lives.
The Church is charged with proclaiming the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus. That is not the culmination of discipleship. Rather, it is just the beginning! The Church is also responsible for encouraging the spiritual formation of its people. But churches can also get so caught up in the busyness of doing church that they can’t quite move beyond the preaching and teaching and get to the practical application of being the Church.
That’s where a Connections Strategist–that’s me!–comes into play. I help churches develop strategic methods of connecting people with their spiritual gifting, gifting with ministry, and ministry with the community. Get it?