Winnie the Pooh famously said “Something feels funny. I must be thinking too hard.” Can you relate? Are there times when, as a church communicator, you find yourself thinking too hard? Maybe you’re working to refine your strategy, or you have writer’s block while finding language that fits your audience, or trying to figure out the Christ-like response to a hostile or unkind email! In those moments, look around. Chances are, you’re thinking alone. And alone is often not best.
Earlier this year, my wife and I launched a new venture that is now forming as a nonprofit. I was coming from years of working with highly collaborative teams, and now, in the launch zone, we were largely working alone. While we make a great team, we’re just two people and we only have our own perspectives and experience. Enter the idea for an advisory council.
An advisory council is a group of people (I’d suggest 3 to 7), with varied backgrounds and experiences, who have simply agreed to take your occasional call, text or email, and offer their advice to the situations you present to them or the questions you pose. Here’s a few more details:
- They are not paid (though an occasional Starbucks gift card is a nice gesture).
- They probably don’t go to your church (they can, but a little distance from the situation can actually help you and them think more broadly).
- You probably don’t contact any one of them more than once a month.
- It’s okay to contact some more than others based on the situation you’re in or question you pose.
- You’re not bound to their advice, but you’re likely to get solutions you’d not thought of on your own.
Who should you ask? Wise people. People with different experiences and backgrounds. You want people who can help you think, not help you do. My advisory council includes a denominational leader, an accountant, an entrepreneur, a church planting executive, branding guru, and an operations pastor.
My invitation was simple,
“As I do my work, I sometimes find I need a different perspective than my own or those I work closely with, so I’m forming an advisory council to help me when I’m stumped or need advice. As I prayed, you came to mind as someone I should reach out to. I respect you and I think I would benefit from your wisdom and insight. I know I can count on you to encourage and challenge me. My hope is you’d be open to an occasional text, call or email when I need input and you’d take a moment to help me think. I won’t contact you more than once a month – and often less frequently – and I’m only asking you to say ‘yes’ for one year and then we’ll reevaluate. I’d be so grateful if you’d help me in this way, but we’re still friends if you say ‘no thank you.’”
It was that simple. Every one said “yes.”
As you think about the idea of an advisory council, and who you should ask, just pray, considering scriptures like:
- Plans fail without advice, but with many counselors they are confirmed. Proverbs 15:22
- A nation falls through a lack of guidance, but victory comes through the council of many. Proverbs 11:14
And if you’re thinking yourself too smart to not need advisors, remember…
A stubborn fool considers his own way the right one, but a person who listens to advice is wise. Proverbs 12:15
Seriously, in the past few months, I’ve found my advisors have helped me expand my vision, chart my course, speed my process, and probably more than once, saved me heartache and disappointment. I believe if you take this step, you’ll find your Christopher Robin, Piglet, and Owl who can help you think when you’re stuck… in a honey tree or otherwise.