Church and Synagogue Consultant

Dan-13Dan Hotchkiss consults with leaders of a wide spectrum of churches, synagogues, and other organizations. As a senior consultant for the Alban Institute for 14 years, and now as an independent consultant, Dan has helped hundreds of congregations in over 30 denominational groups. Through his coaching, teaching, and writing, Dan touches the lives of an even wider range of leaders.

Some areas where Dan is currently focusing his writing, teaching, and consulting include:

Healthy congregations have a clear sense of vision or mission that shapes who they are and what they do. In planning, it is often more useful to build on strengths than to fret about weaknesses. Planning can be anything from choosing a short-term project that can be successful quickly to a long process of “Holy Conversation.” Dan helps congregations to choose the planning process that is right for them at a given moment. He leads the Alban seminar on planning, “Shaping Holy Conversations.”

Dan often helps congregations to move beyond frustrating and ineffective ways of managing the work of boards, clergy, and staff. Good governance starts with clearly defined roles and authority; it succeeds when lay and professional leaders lead ministry together as collaborating partners. How much time does your board or committee spend managing programs? How much time do your program leaders (paid and volunteer) spend seeking approval for choices they could be trusted to make on their own? True partnership begins with clear role boundaries, effective delegation, and a constructive system of accountability. Dan can help you whether you want to sharpen leaders’ skills, reorganize to grow, or consider an entirely new model for governance.

Clergy coaching
Dan coaches his colleagues through regular conversation, homework assignments, feedback, and evaluation. Coaching begins with a no-charge conversation about the potential client’s needs, anxieties, hopes, and objectives. Optionally, Dan will come to the client’s place of work to “shadow” for a day, enabling him to observe the client’s leadership style. The coaching conversations, which can take place on the phone or in person, typically happen monthly for an hour over a six-month period. Coaching clients can contact Dan by phone or email to check in about issues as they arise.

Financial assessment
Financial communication is a challenge for many congregations. Dan will examine your financial and giving records and provide a report answering the questions you identify, such as: Is our budget sustainable? Where are we headed? Do we depend too much on a few givers? What stewardship strategy will best move us toward our goals? Should we worry about debt? Are we handling invested reserves and endowment funds responsibly? How can we encourage members to add to these funds? A financial assessment can stand alone or serve as part of a larger planning process.

Dan is open to ideas for creative consultations that do not fit into any category.