Why do church consultations fail? Here's a story that demonstrates the one key reason why many churches get so excited about doing the work of consulting and then feel so disappointed when it doesn't seem to work.

It seemed like a good idea, particularly since the church's leadership team had just returned from a conference that was stimulating. They had been challenged by the speaker to start taking action in their church. The leader declared his enthusiasm in front of all of the members of the church. "Let's become a missional church," he said at one meeting. Another time he said, "I want us to put an end to the high-church/low-church divisions that have plagued us for so long."

By the time the consultants showed up, they were ready to try anything new. And the consultants did not let them down. "You need to let your people serve as team leaders," they said. "Start meeting in homes, right away!" they urged. "Choose worship times that will reach young adults!" "Use small groups to develop leaders!"

These are excellent suggestions. But they failed. Why? Because the leader didn't support them with his own behavior.

For example, he believed that God wanted him to change the church's worship services but he refused to alter his own worship patterns. He wanted everyone to follow Jesus, even though he was still struggling to figure out how to make Jesus the center of his life.

The best church consultant can not do the transformation that needs to be done by the leadership of the local congregation. No matter how well the consultant plans and directs, the impact on the church depends completely on whether the pastor believes what the consultant is trying to implement and whether or not he lives those ideas out consistently.