I am a big fan of “best practices.” That means looking at an organization – seeing what they do right and potentially absorbing it – and seeing what they do wrong and hopefully avoiding it. It works. Quite frankly, I’d rather learn from someone else’s mistakes than my own. Where it goes south is when people study a successful church [or company, etc…] and simply copy what they do wholesale. That usually does NOT work.
A better strategy is not just to imitate, but to find out WHY they do what they do, and THEN adapt that thinking [if appropriate] to your situation. Each church is a unique amalgamation of many different things – the history, the people, the location, etc…. all have their impact. Simply importing an idea won’t always work – the senior pastor of that church may have a completely different preaching style or temperament than yours, or your congregation may be different from a socio-economic standpoint [and so have a different set of problems to overcome]. Rather, seek to understand the big picture idea behind a process, and tailor it to your situation.