4 Things Ministry Leaders Need To Do Now!
2020 is the beginning of an all-digital, artificial intelligence, cloud-based age. It’s an emerging trend that will change everything. Here’s a tip, ministry will not be immune from this trend. It’s a trend that will force many leaders out. More than ever, the ability to adapt and change to fit these new dynamics is crucial.
They are ongoing and have been around since the beginning of time in both the secular and faith worlds. Trends can last for decades. Amazingly, emerging trends have also been the “Achilles hill” of 90 percent of Christian ministry. Not because trends are good or bad, but because, ministry leaders simply ignore them, overlook them, or don’t know how to respond to them.
When ministry leaders miss new emerging trends they become irrelevant.
- The early Catholic “church” ignored the emergence of print reproduction and Gutenburg’s invention of the printing press. By the time they realized what was happening, Gutenburg’s collaboration with Martin Luther’s reformation had already grabbed a foothold on the culture of that time.
- Blockbuster ignored the emergence of streaming. They soon had to close their doors.
- The taxi or yellow cab industry still doesn’t know how to respond to Uber and Lyft.
The current technologies make these changes unavoidable for both industry as well as ministry. The good news is younger leaders understand this.
Petr Cincala and Renee Drum suggest that younger clergy and other ministry leaders (under 50 ) appear to be driving the largest share of ministry and ‘church’ growth in the US.
“The older you get, the less likely you are to innovate. And innovation drives growth and connection with emerging generations.” Carey Nieuwhof
In this, all-digital, artificial intelligence decade here’s some insight on what ministry leaders should do now.
- Digital Ministry. In this era of the internet, social media, videos, blogs and podcasting, the gospel can travel further and faster than ever before. There hasn’t been a culture-shifting communication tool this powerful since the printing press. This digital revolution, is the most effective “Roman Roads” and “Reformation” of our day. It is estimated that 95 percent of non-believers are online. Not only are most people online, but most people are also engaging in social networking. Did you know that in third world countries, people may not have TV’s but they own smartphones? Every age group, from kindergartners to retirees, is digitally connected. This digital age is even changing the way the “church” meets. Len Wilson defines digital ministry as, “A willingness to innovate in service of Christ. To act, like Joshua and Caleb, as scouts on the hill, fingers pointed into the future, shouting back to God’s people that the way forward is clear.”
- Stop Killing Your Online Influence. Social media gives you access to an audience, but it also gives an audience access to you. What’s sad is the number of leaders especially those in ministry who kill their influence by what they post online. With this technology comes responsibility and to whom much is given, much is required. Social media is a platform that if used correctly, will give you the ability to reach an audience you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. So, don’t ruin a great opportunity.
- Think About Ministry Differently. If you ask any ministry leader who’s been at it for at least ten years, they will all tell you that it’s harder than ever. Leaders both secular and faith-based should understand that with all the digital platforms like YouTube, and podcasts, people have options, which means you have competition. You are not the only person influencing those you lead. People go to these digital platforms to view and listen to their favorite speakers, leaders, and teachers. What does this mean? It means that whatever content you’re putting out, be it written or spoken, better be good because mediocre is out. In the 2020’s Christian ministry will take on a whole new dynamic. How we were taught to do ministry used to work. Not anymore. Digital has changed everything and the COVID crisis accelerated this change.
- Understand Your Digital Platform. Most ministry leaders have never given any thought on how to use their digital platforms, but instead say to themselves, “OK, we’re on social media, we have a website, we’re good.” That’s like saying, I have a car, and never drive it. I invite you to take your digital platform or platforms for a drive. Your digital platforms (internet, social media, and even your email list) are gateways for building relationships and connecting with others. They are doors to an audience that an analog experience can’t provide. They provide windows to reach people in ways traditional outreach can’t. Do you know that before visitors or donors come to your location, they have already vetted your organization online? With this in mind, part of the success of any ministry is understanding its digital platform. Using digital technology better means seeing your digital platforms as an extensions of your brick and mortar ministry, rather than seeing it as a threat.
The days of thinking that you can reach the world with the gospel with only a building are gone. Your digital platforms can reach far more souls beyond your building.