One of the things that’s important to understand is that our role in the consulting process is to reveal things and help churches see things that they’ve never seen before. But we have to do it in an encouraging and supporting way.
One of the ways that I reference that is that I go back to the 7th grade—and who doesn’t remember the 7th grade? It’s like the worst time in your life. So much is changing in your life and you don’t know which way is up. I literally remember being in the 7th grade and I’m sitting in the front row of the class—not because I’m a front of the class student, but because I’m a back of the class student who gets in trouble and is forced to sit in the front of the class.
So I’m sitting in the front of the class and the girl sitting to the right of me—there’s probably about 30 people in the class—she looks at me and starts laughing. And she turns to the guy behind her and whispers and he looks at me and starts laughing. He turns to the guy behind him and does the same thing. All of a sudden, 30 people, including the teacher, are looking at me and laughing. And the teacher looks over at me, shakes her head, and says, “Richard… Oh, Richard.” And I’m like, “What?! What is this?!” The teacher looks at me and taps her nose. So, I reach up to touch my nose and sure enough… in the 7th grade, I had a booger right there on the end of my nose.
I had no idea how it happened, but the reality of it was that, in that moment, I was devastated and crushed… because it’s the 7th grade! In that moment, I knew that the girl sitting next to me wasn’t my friend. Because a true friend lovingly tells you when you’ve got something on your nose.
And that’s really the spirit of what we’re doing when we’re going in and visiting a church. We’re helping them understand what they’re great at, but we’re also there to, in love, help them understand how to be better. In order to do that, we actually have to tell them the truth about what they don’t see.