Identifying Signs You Need Outside Support
You just call out my name
And you know, wherever I am
I'll come runnin'
To see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend
Those are the words of the legendary singer/songwriter Carole King.
Ministry can be lonely.
Most people in your church don’t understand that. I mean… you work with people all day long… how could you be lonely.
We all know that you can be around people and still feel alone. And as we talk to pastors and church leaders every day, loneliness is a real issue for many.
Partly because this work… this calling… is tough work. And you shouldn’t try to go it alone as you lead your church or ministry.
This is especially true when you’re in a tough church or need to make some really hard decisions
If any of this is resonating with you, you may just need a friend. You pour your whole heart into guiding your congregation, empowering your team, and reaching the community. But no matter how devoted you are, there often comes a point you find yourself questioning your next steps. Knowing when to seek outside help humbly can position your church for revitalization and breakthrough.
But how do you know for sure when your church could benefit from the support and expertise of an outside advisor? What are some key indicators that professional guidance could get your ministry unstuck? Here are several important “winter, spring, summer or fall” red flags to pay attention to:
Declining or Plateaued Attendance and Engagement
If your weekly service attendance numbers steadily decrease over an extended period, or your participation is stuck at the same level without new growth, it likely signals a need for change. While normal fluctuations in attendance happen, consistent decline points to some underlying issues with community outreach, programming that is no longer connecting with your congregation, or a compromised reputation of your church within the surrounding area. Ignoring the warning signs of disengagement within your existing members comprises the future health and impact of the church. An outside perspective can provide an unbiased assessment of disconnects and help you reboot community outreach, refresh programming, and reconnect with both congregants and new people in meaningful ways.
Lack of Fruitfulness and Effectiveness in Existing Ministries and Programs
Have your current church programs, events and ministry initiatives lost their original effectiveness and fruitfulness? Do they still fully align with the needs of your congregation and demographics within the church? A fresh set of eyes assessing your programming from experienced ministry advisors and consultants can help pinpoint areas of opportunity to either revamp existing initiatives that have become tired and ineffective or help launch new ministry efforts that will better engage your people. Their outside frameworks and best practices can help get your programming back on track to fulfill the purpose and mission of your church truly.
Problems with Staff Culture, Development, or Retention
It’s no secret that it’s difficult for a church body to experience sustainable health and growth without the right staff leadership team surrounding you. Unhealthy culture, lack of training and development, and frequent turnover in key positions all undermine the stability of a church. But often, these problematic dynamics or personnel issues can be tough to identify when you're inside them each day accurately. An expert church health assessment from the outside can shed light by exposing problem areas in your staffing structure, culture, and capabilities that are limiting growth. Their unbiased insights can lead to targeted solutions.
Financial Struggles and Facility Maintenance Issues
Budget shortfalls, declining giving, and ballooning expenses often signal foundational issues in a church that compromises stability and health. And the resulting financial pressures and weight of overdue facility repairs can quickly become overwhelming for church leaders to navigate alone. However, an outside perspective can provide an objective, non-emotional analysis of the church’s full financial realities and spending patterns. Often they can bring systems and processes to increase sustainability. With the benefit of precise data and recommendations, church leadership can look honestly at issues and enact any necessary changes that will lead back to greater security and stewardship.
Other Common Signs that Outside Help is Needed
Some other common warning signs that a church is in need of outside counsel include festering conflict among staff members or within the congregation, an overall lack of strategic planning and vision for the future, stagnant community outreach and presence, and pastor burnout. But these issues can often be complicated to objectively identify and admit when you are deep in the trenches of day-to-day ministry. Pride can also cause avoidance of these warnings. But catching them early and acknowledging vulnerabilities is critical because, left unaddressed, they almost always precede eventual decline.
Being Willing to Acknowledge You Need Guidance
At the end of the day, to reverse course and seek the timely wisdom, support, and change that is needed, church leaders must first be willing to acknowledge and admit their limitations and needs for help humbly. This can be difficult to do alone without outside confirmation of brewing issues beneath the surface. But addressing the brutal truths of reality and looking at warning signs head-on, as hard as it may be, is the critical first step that will open the door for genuine transformation, breakthrough, and revitalization.
An experienced church coach can act like a medical diagnostician of sorts for your church – assessing the current situation accurately but also compassionately. This allows church leadership to remove blinders to problems and gain the willingness to embrace needed changes. With humility and openness to support, your church can begin to walk the pathway of renewal. Are you noticing multiple warning signs in your church but don’t know the next best steps? Know that asking for help is never a sign of failure or weakness. On the contrary, it is a wise act of courageous leadership that leads to a breakthrough.
If there is any way that we can help you, we have a whole team of people that can be a much-needed friend, confidant, and advisor in your next season of ministry. Our new Chemistry Solutions provides one-on-one care and assistance for you and your church.
We believe every church and ministry has untapped potential waiting to be discovered. Our team of experienced church leaders and coaches can partner with you and your church to evaluate your current health across key areas like leadership, community, operations, and discipleship. We help you pinpoint areas of excellence to build upon and identify opportunities for growth. Whether you need an unbiased assessment of your church culture, help improving systems and communication, leadership coaching, or staff training - Chemistry Solutions offers customized services to equip your ministry to thrive. Let us help you gain clarity and focus to reach your kingdom goals.
Check it out here. And when you’re ready, let’s chat. You can schedule a 30-minute free video call to ‘ask us anything.’ We’d love the opportunity to help!
PS - You’ve Got a Friend!