When I’m not digging up info for startups or sleuthing for people who need a little information boost in order to start something great, I work with established businesses, consultants, and entrepreneurs. A large portion of my work involves providing background research and information to support the work my clients do.
One of the spaces I’ve found myself working repeatedly in is church consulting. It’s a field I didn’t know much about until I was approached by my first church consultant client a few years back. Probably like a lot of people, I didn’t quite grasp how much information a church consultant needs in order to effectively help and guide his clients. Church consulting involves a lot more than just giving advice. It’s about strategy and decision making and without research, a church consultant can’t be as effective as one who makes sure his advice, suggestions, and plans are backed by sound research.
Today, I work with quite a few church consultants, providing supporting research that supplements the work they do for their clients. James is one of my church consultant clients and the following is a brief case study on just one of the ways Infocopia has helped him provide the best possible consulting services to his clients.
James runs a growing church consulting business and is often tasked with finding creative solutions to his clients' problems. In order to ensure he was giving his clients the best possible information and resources, James turned to Infocopia for assistance, knowing that information professionals are experts at finding relevant and useful information and have access to resources he doesn't. Hiring an information professional has saved James time and money, allowing him to take on more clients and spend more time with each client. James also uses our services for research into the church consulting market, such as asking us to locate possible marketing and speaking opportunities for him and his business.
Recently, one of James' consulting clients, a church pastor, needed assistance with a meeting he was having with his staff and congregation leaders about their communion services. The pastor had recently made the decision to relocate the communion table when not in use and some of the staff and church members were unhappy with his decision. The pastor asked James for guidance. Before advising the pastor, James needed information. He could not simply rely on his gut feelings on whether the table should be moved or what the pastor should tell his staff and congregation at the meeting. James did maintain a personal library of resources, which he consulted, but needed to go broader and deeper, so he turned to Infocopia and asked me to find find examples of other churches experiencing the same or similar problems and compile a summary report of what these churches experienced and what was done to solve the problem. He also needed a well-researched report on the history of the communion table and its placement in Protestant churches, along with primary source documents and references.
Together, we devised a research plan and strategy that included peer-reviewed literature searches, church journal and newsletter searches, and on-site library research. I was able to give James a detailed summary of my findings along with full-text articles he could use when preparing a plan to present to his pastor client. While there was no definitive answer--communion tables, it turns out, have had quite a history-- James was able, with my research, to make informed suggestions that were backed by theology, scholarship, church leader opinion, historical precedence, and other church's experiences. It was a win for James and a win for his pastor client.