Employing Best Practices for Church and Ministry Effectiveness and Relevancy

Recently, I was party to a conversation about web presence, corporate identity and other branding issues with several key stakeholders in a national ministry. In the discussion someone referenced the importance of ministries and churches learning from current branding and marketing industry standards and best practices.

With a frustrated tone, one of the leader’s boldly responded “We don’t care about best practices! What we’re really interested in doing is . . . (details withheld for discretionary reasons) regardless of best practices.”

I was stunned. How could a key ministry leader be so dismissive of the value of best practices for his ministry? This launched my brain into hyper-mode.

To be clear, I do not believe that we should hook our train to everything corporate America comes up with, nor do I believe that we should buy into their perspective, philosophies and/or methods as a model for how we do ministry. We are called to a different and higher standard.

However, all truth is God’s truth and some things are true regardless of who is aware of those truths, who is availing themselves of those truths or who is benefiting from them. For example, it is true that humans have a basic need to feel connected to other humans in a way that is authentic and meaningful. This need rages in the heart of the tribal leader in the most remote part of the globe as much as it does in the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

In the same way, it is true that a well-designed and well-developed web site can help ministries better communicate their message just like it helps businesses and secular organizations do the same. At the end of the day, a web site is just a tool. Here’s an interesting read by guest blogger David Bourgeois at Church Marketing Sucks on internet ministry best practices.

The tools employed and deployed by branding and marketing practitioners are just that: TOOLS. A tool can either be used to positively sink a nail into wood on a house or to bonk someone in the head. The tool itself doesn’t care. It’s an inanimate neutral object that is ambivalent to the person using it or the purpose for which it is used.

Branding and marketing tools are exactly the same. They can be utilized for good to reach people with the life-transforming message and good news of Jesus Christ or they can be used to spread the most vile evil you can imagine. But the tools themselves don’t care either way.

So, here are a few suggestions for how to think about and utilize best practices in your church or ministry in a healthy, balanced and productive way:

  1. Realize that just because something represents the latest and greatest best practice, it may or may not be best for your ministry or church. Also, it may be the right thing to do, just not the right time. Wisdom and discernment is the best way to know the difference.
  2. Understand that utilizing a current best practice in any given area of your ministry may be exactly what you need to propel your ministry forward.
  3. Recognize that being bleed-edge is expensive, risky and difficult (if not impossible) to sustain. Few ministries have the resources to exist there.
  4. Realize that being lead-edge, however, is actually affordable and desirable because it demonstrates that you are aware of the culture around you and committed to staying relevant.
  5. Believers should be shaping and developing best practices in every industry.
  6. Employing best practices will help you be more efficient and more effective. Check out this site dedicated to ministry best practices.
  7. As a leader, how you interact with and employ best practices determines how much those around you value them.

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