I'm not a plumber. But whenever I have a plumbing issue, I convince myself I can do it. I end up with more leaks, more water, wrong connectors, and a zillion trips back and forth to the hardware store. When finished, I always vow that next time, I'll hire a plumber.
One of my Bible college instructors often said, "People walk in the light they know." In other words, we don't know what we don't know. I think worse than not knowing something is living in denial. We can act like we know even though we don't.
Nobody wants to admit to ignorance because it sounds like a fault. If we're honest, none of us wants the stigma of being a know-it-all either. Being open and honest about the things we don't know sets us up for real growth. Instead of trying to act like I'm a plumber, I should just hire a plumber. Sometimes, you can figure things out on your own. But when you need significant change, you should consider hiring an expert.
Here are three values I think an outsider's perspective offers:
After sharing my experiences with my coach for a few moments, the coach said, "You've mentioned this phrase multiple times. Tell me more about that."
I had no idea I had mentioned the phrase once, let alone three or four times! Sometimes we need a sounding board – someone to tell us what they are hearing us say. This reflecting back has great value because all too often, our answer lies in what we're saying.
When you asked someone to be a sounding board, what were the reasons for wanting a sounding board, and what did you feel they could offer you?
I helped facilitate a church rebrand between our leadership team and a marketing firm. It was a visual language exercise. The marketing team selected 300 images to represent our church based on research they'd done to this point. Our job was to narrow the selection down to about 20 images that represented our church visually.
While we discussed each photo and why we thought to keep it or discard it, the marketing rep took notes. As "the outsider" read back to us the things we said about our church, it became more apparent than ever who we were as a church and who we were not!
While you can have someone document a conversation, it isn't the same as offering an outsider's perspective. It's also challenging to provide an outsider's perspective while actively participating in the discussion. A true outsider can offer essential and unbiased observations.
During a particular coaching session, I had a church's communications team take us through the steps of their communications protocol. There were two rules: 1) they needed to include every detail, and 2) they weren't allowed to judge their steps throughout the process.
As the team members pieced together their communications path from start to finish, I noticed the emotion that spiked at different points along the way. On more than one occasion, I had to remind them of the second rule! One person would begin to justify one of the steps, or another would express frustration that specific action was causing.
A true outsider can offer essential and unbiased observations.
As we pushed through to the end, they saw the antiquated, inefficient, and sometimes redundant tasks they were performing time and time again. I observed the pain of the process and could perceive it, but I had not experienced it. As an outsider, I was immune.
I had the ability as an outsider to lead this competent team without a personal connection or emotion. Otherwise, the members would have bogged down as they stopped along the way to fix the broken parts of the current approach. What they really needed was an entirely new and fresh approach, which we ultimately built together.
While YouTube supplies me with plumbing DIY videos, some projects should only be completed by a professional. In my experience, one reason churches are reluctant to hire a coach or consultant is financial. That's why I often don't hire a plumber, too. But in addition to counting the cost, be sure to evaluate the return or value of the investment.
In addition to the expense, our church often dismissed hiring an outsider for this reason: "They don't know us, our personality, or our history." But this perspective is precisely the value an outsider provides and one, quite frankly, your church can benefit from.
If you feel your approach to church communications needs to change, ChurchCom Solutions can help. Start the conversation by completing this simple intake form for one free coaching session.
Don Wambolt has over 25 years' experience in leading church communications. More