Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Church Consultant

The concept of a church consultation is based on the observation that church leaders (pastors, elders, shepherds, etc.) take time to grow into their respective positions. Over time they develop into their positions either intentionally or by taking the church through a “trial and error” approach. Time, momentum, and valuable resources can be at risk without an intentional plan of personal, professional, and organizational development. In order to lead, a person must first realize how to manage themselves and then how to work through others to accomplish their common goals.

A church consultant helps the leaders to understand the organization and themselves. Through personality and organizational assessment, the consultant also helps the leadership understand the church’s identity as well as the mission, vision, and strategies that are in place. Understanding must precede improvement. The role of a consultant is to help keep the team on the same game plan through accountability and encouragement. The consultant is like a computer browser, seeking out networks and knowledge to assist church leaders with helpful information to implement a common strategy. This is accomplished through the delivery of a systematic approach for understanding and training as well as coaching regarding an array of issues critical to the oversight of the church. A consultant from Dr. Trathen & Associates, PC would be:

  • One who would assist the leaders in a way agreeable to both the leaders and the consultant.
  • A resource person who understands the trends in ministry, leadership, and business. The consultant focuses on leadership being cultural sensitive when working with people in the congregation while at the same time emphasizing appropriate ways to change that lead people into change in a way they can give ownership and experience less distress. Furthermore, the consulting would focus on developing and training leaders. This would necessitate staff learning more about how to operate in a team context through utilizing the strengths and expertise of leaders and potential leaders. For some churches this change is one that takes them from a leadership cult to a leadership culture. All these emphases will allow more time for the staff and leadership to focus on its mission and ministry implementation.
  • A person who maintains long term relationships with the pastors for ministerial and spiritual mentoring, character, and leadership development. This developmental model provides the leaders a safe person to coach them through personal, professional, and organizational transitions.
  • One who would establish or assist staff in job description design and setting and reviewing church and staff goals and time lines.
  • A person who would work with the leadership team to develop solutions to the church challenges and future trends and who would network with other church consultants to access their areas of expertise when needed.
  • One who would be a supportive and encouraging accountability person.

In conjunction with these important consulting/coaching functions, the Church Consultation Plan would focus on the senior pastor’s/leadership goals and the recommendations of our church consultation. Examples of a senior pastor’s goals that would necessitate consultation/coaching would be as follows:

  • To discover ways we as a team can better care and communicate.
  • To determine what is important as a team and strive toward those ends.
  • To grow together as a team. To have a more cohesive team as we experience growth.
  • To evaluate and discover the right team chemistry for the future of the church.
  • To understand and appreciate each other’s roles.
  • To determine how the staff can grow together
  • How the ministry team can more effectively communicate vision to the congregation.

In addition to these sample goals, examples of church consultation recommendations necessitating coaching could be as follows:

  • Establish greater clarity regarding what your church will look like in 5 years and how the church will get there.
  • Establish greater clarity regarding what type of elder/deacon/leadership board is needed to lead the church in the next 10 years.
  • Establish an assessment and interview process for new staff hires.
  • Establish and maintain an integrative process of staff and program evaluation reflective of staff job descriptions.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan of staff/elder/leader development to include at least one 3-day staff retreat per year for team development as well as an annual leadership retreat.


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