NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Ralph Hodge has a simple goal for LifeWay church relations and consulting: to help churches be healthy and effective.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No.
Hodge is director of the newly created church relations and consulting area of LifeWay Christian Resources that will be working closely with churches by strengthening the coordination of services available from the Nashville-based entity of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Toward helping churches become healthier and more effective, Hodge said, “One of the toughest issues for a church to face is getting a clear reality of where it is.” In any given church, he noted that the pastor may have one idea of where the church is, the deacons another idea, the missions committee another and the laity yet another. Bringing all these ideas together for a clear picture is crucial.
LifeWay church relations and consulting uses a variety of assessment tools and processes to help churches discover their reality.
“We offer a church health assessment that also involves a personal interview process,” Hodge said. “We can adapt it and expand it with a personal assessment based on interviews conducted by our uniquely qualified consultants. We can help a church understand where it is and help it discover where God wants it to be as a congregation. Then, we help the church develop a strategy to get from where it is to where it needs to be….
“We come in objectively and offer assessment guidance” for “leading the church to make its own discoveries and come to its own conclusions,” Hodge said.
LifeWay church relations and consulting encompasses architecture and stewardship consulting led by Gary Nicholson; pastoral ministries and church consulting led by Dan Garland; African American church consulting led by Elgia “Jay” Wells; a network of regional church consultants for the United States and Canada led by Barry Sneed, David Trammel and Barry Campbell; and an outbound call center led by Mark Dewbre.
When a church makes the decision to work with LifeWay church relations and consulting, Hodge said it gets a group of professionals with a vast “toolbox” to help it move toward greater health and effectiveness. These tools include:
— a community and church contextual analysis that includes an exhaustive demographic profile of where the church is located.
— an evaluation of ministry effectiveness.
— a total church health assessment.
— a spatial and facility assessment.
— a communications audit.
— team-building and coaching.
Costs for these services vary depending on the degree of personalization each church requests.
“Our team is made up of a great group of individuals with a tremendous combination of experience, innovation, education and skills,” Hodge said. “Many of them have served as pastors or in other church staff positions, so they know church. They come from all over the country, so they understand the differences in geography. I believe this is the best team of consultants any church could work with.”
Polly House is a corporate communications specialist with LifeWay Christian Resource. LifeWay’s church relations and consulting area can be contacted at (615) 251-2980.