July 2, 2008 Tony Morgan

9 Do’s and Don’ts for Ministry Growth

This isn’t for senior pastors. (Though these same principles apply to your ministry.) And this post isn’t about weekend services. (Though it could be.) This advice is for every church leader who is responsible for a ministry, program or event that functions outside of the weekend services. (I’m pretty confident what I’m about to share is going to tick you off.) Here are:

9 Do’s and Don’ts for Ministry Growth

  1. You don’t need a logo. A new logo isn’t the key to successful ministry. Life change is the key to successful ministry. Only Jesus can change lives. Yes, there are times when you’ll need to update your branding; however, it’s not going to make or break your ministry.
  2. Your fancy flyers won’t help. 80% of the people who show up to a weekend service come with a friend who invites them. That same principle applies to your ministry as well. If people aren’t inviting their friends, that’s likely a ministry problem and not a promotions problem.
  3. Put people first. Life change happens most often within the context of relationships. If your ministry isn’t helping people engage in relational connections (inside and outside of the church), then your ministry will not grow.
  4. Lead your ministry. You should focus on that. You aren’t gifted at promotions (even though you think you are). You should let communications professionals focus on that, and stop fighting against the people who are trying to help you. Spend more time doing ministry and less time trying to promote your ministry.
  5. Remember: print is dead. (this coming from someone who writes books). It’s highly likely that whatever you’re printing for your audience will just end up in a trash can. Any business in America relying on print media is dying a slow death. You should always think Web first with an emphasis on interactivity and building relationships.
  6. Don’t wait on the church to establish online community. That’s your responsibility. Most people you’re trying to reach won’t visit your church’s website, but they will engage with your Web presence on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, your blog, etc.
  7. You probably need to cut programs and events. Less is more. If you have fewer events and less programs, more people will connect with your ministry. Stop confusing them and help them focus on the next appropriate step. (Check this out.)
  8. Grow through volunteers. As much as possible, let staff support ministry and encourage volunteers to be responsible for face-to-face connections with the people you are trying to reach or help. When you take those roles out of the hands of volunteers, you’ve essentially limited the growth of your ministry…and taken away their responsibility to make disciples.
  9. You are not competing against other ministries. As soon as you sense “your ministry” is competing with another ministry in your church for money, volunteers, space, calendar time, platform promotions, etc., you should resign. You are not a leader. You are, at best, a manager of resources and, at worst, the one holding the entire ministry back from growth and unity.

Agree or disagree? And, what’s number 10?

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.
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Comments (30)

  1. Tony, thanks for this list! It seems so easy to get wrapped up in worrying about branding and being slick – honestly it’s easier (and more fun) to focus on that stuff than to focus on life change and helping people connect with God.

    LOVE your point about the volunteers! We are a body, and ALL OF US need to be excercising our gifts – as leaders we need to empower the body to do that.

    #10 goes without saying really, but “pray.”

  2. #10 It’s not YOUR vision that matters.

    It is God’s vision for the church as set forth by the Church leadership. Not your vision for your ministry. If you are trying to lead your ministry under a different vision then the churches then you are hurting both your ministry and the churches.

    Great post Tony.

    P.S. the link to respond at the end of the post is messed up

  3. Chris Roberts

    Wise advice, Tony. My #10 would be: Don’t lose sight of where you are. The ministry you lead within the church is just that – it’s not THE ministry of the church. Every ministry leader I’ve met is passionate about what their ministry is. That’s great and the way it should be. However, the main “brand” should be the church, not the particular group or ministry you lead. If you feel called to start a ministry that supports your mission or passion, then do that. Don’t dilute the church’s brand to increase your own.

  4. 10. Don’t cater your ministry to the ones with the checkbook otherwise it is not ministry it is a rich man’s pet project and you may kill something that God actually is using to win souls in the process.

    Ouch, did I really just write that?

  5. Agree! Although #2 is far from universal… NorthPoint church reports that 51% of their first time visitors come uninvited. I have no research to back it up but I suspect the average invited/uninvited for most churches is close to 50/50. Based on my experience I think NewSpring folks excel at inviting. #10 Do: define your mission (and hence your focus as a church) and then focus, focus, focus… refer to #7. -jw

  6. Agree with all. Possible #10 is: catch people doing things well/right and magnify/amplify their efforts. Give credit away always for the wins and take responsibility for the losses. I really enjoyed the encouragement on #6…just spoke about this at staff on Tuesday.

  7. Agree.

    10. Delegate authority and not simply responsibility.

    Goes a long with #8. If we pull a one-man-show, do all the work, and hold our ministry too close we hinder the growth. If we simply hand out tasks and busy work for others to accomplish we’ll soon find our volunteers going to other ministries where they are valued. Empowering others to empower others helps growth and shows that you appreciate your staff.

  8. Great list Tony. I agree.

    #10 Don’t Forget About You.

    Many church leaders are so busy multi-tasking and producing and giving their time, energy, and love to things outside themselves, that they themselves become in need of ministry. Be humble and wise enough to pour into your own soul once and a while. Re-energize.
    If you’re an extrovert – go spend some quality time with your family or friends goofing off while swapping life stories, or have a party for no reason and invite everyone you know. Be social for you.
    If you’re introvert – go read some Scripture for you (not for the next message), or go walk and think and pray for whatever pops in your head. Be alone for you.
    The point is to get in tune with you and God frequency, and find out how you are really doing right now in your soul (not how good you are doing your job).

  9. 10. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Don’t try to dress like everyone else or talk like everyone else. Be yourself.

  10. Robert A. Cortez

    #10 – DIVERSE CONGREGATIONS

    If you’re proud of the fact that your church is growing with diversity and/or you want a more diverse crowd, PLEASE DON’T SINGLE OUT THE ONES THAT ALREADY ATTEND by announcing it to the entire congregation!!!

    It’s like someone who’s being accused of being racist saying, “I’m not racist! I have two black (or Hispanic) friends!”

  11. patwebb

    Great stuff-so basic we should never forget it-DUH! But we do.
    Thanks for the nudge.
    We have a 50/50 split-invited to un-invited. I am working to be 90/10 invited to un-invited. Helps with closing the back door.

    #10-Be yourself and your own brand-stop being a cookie cutter

  12. Dan

    This was good stuff, I really like the big picture focus of yours which isn’t the programme, but the people. Love it! Right on man!

    #10? Don’t expect people to go where you haven’t gone (or don’t go) yourself.

    I also love what D Rho said, it echos what John the Baptist said in John 3:30… “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” More of Jesus, less of us in otherwords.

  13. Mark Morgan

    Agree!!! My number 10 is … know your mission and vision and filter everything you do through that. If it is not helping you achieve the mission and live out the vision (that was hopefully discerned and is God honoring) then you have to ask the tough question, “Do we really need to do this ministry/mission or is it just noise?”. LESS IS MORE … AMEN!!!

  14. 10. It’s not about you. But it is.

    The ministry is not about you–your ego, your unresolved issues, your unfulfilled dreams, your position, or your prerogatives. Get over yourself or get out of the game. But the ministry is all about you–your character, integrity, reputation and your walk with God. It’s not the stuff on the outside that will make or break a ministry. It’s what’s on the inside.

  15. tony, tony. Your list is a bundle of sweetness nearly wrapped in bubble paper. Good job.

    #10: Make good teams playing to the strength of your staff. Don’t create or foster the attitude of silos ministries.

  16. Johan Smith

    Great list! no 10? Let God do the work….in you and through you! Perhaps expansion on the “competition”-one: Remember Luke 10: 2 and live it. There is no space for competition in God’s Kingdom.

  17. Greg

    Totally agree! Especially on the points that growth comes through life change and one person inviting another–not fancy flyers, church websites, and print media. In one word it’s all about – RELATIONSHIPS. Relationships face to face and online. As for #10 – re-emphasize #5 and #6.
    – Greg from http://FaithFirstFitness.com

  18. Jim

    Passion is what got you where you are. Passion is what people see/saw that got them pumped as well. Whether it is volunteers, or ministry targets, let them see your passion. Know your vision. Share your vision. Be careful to delegate those things that keep you from your vision and your passion. Busy work will kill them both.

  19. Andrew

    I feel like the windows have been flung open and a fresh breeze is blowing in. So glad to know that others are revisiting these foundational truths–they’re front and center for our communications team and for our ministry overall right now, more needed than ever.

    My #10: Branding and creative packaging cover a multitude of “sins”–but only for a little while. Whitewashed tombs…

  20. #10- It’s not your ministry; it’s His. You can’t make it succeed on your own, but you can almost certainly make it fail.

  21. Tim

    Great list with one caveat: depending on where you live, print is definitely not dead. For those of us ministering in communities outside of major cities, things are moving online – but at a *much* slower pace. People would be foolish not to have online presence…but they definitely shouldn’t put all their eggs into that basket.

    Bottom line: know your community & how to reach them…which I think was your major point.

  22. Nelson

    I would say prayer, but prayer should take number priority when you start a church — not when you’re trying to figure out why your church is not growing. Number 10 should be use effective church discipline to weed out the wolves in sheep’s clothing that come and go. Matt 14:15-18

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