Where Do You Find New Ministry Ideas?

Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When was the last time you sat in a dark room and came up with the next great idea that was going to revolutionize your ministry? It’s far more likely that some other ministry or business sparked that idea.

Maybe you were visiting another church on your family vacation and noticed something cool they did. Maybe you were more intentional and went to visit some other churches in your network.

Inspiration is a vital ingredient to solving your ministries biggest problems, but it is also the reason your ministry can completely stall.

I work with an extremely passionate leader named Tim. Tim is in the financial management world but graciously accepted the challenge of shepherding our campus’s Student Ministry teams. When Tim started he was a volunteer leader working with about 20 kids in a mobile campus. Every week we would convert a choir and band room to our student ministry “wing”.

After some time, Tim and his team started to see some growth and they wanted to make sure they capitalized on the momentum.  So, as any great leader would, Tim began to visit some of the other Student Ministries in his network. He saw some fantastic student spaces, full time staff and some great mid-week ministries. Everything looked so much cooler than the converted band/choir rooms we would temporarily occupy on a Sunday morning.

I remember having a conversation with Tim and Brandon (one of his key volunteers) on a sunny Sunday afternoon after we had packed our mobile campus back into trailers. They had been working hard but were envying some of the other ministries in town...until they realized one simple rule:

Don’t take your cues from someone behind you.

What Tim and his team had almost lost sight of was the fact that they were doing a great job. So many of the ministries they were initially envying weren’t having near the impact they were. Sure, they had a cool space, and a full-time staff, but that wasn’t what this ministry needed. What they need to do was stay focused on their own context and do the best possible job they could there.

Don’t take your cues from someone behind you.
— StevenJBarker
  1. Understand Your Context

    Just because the ministry you envy has the building, or the resources, or the staff you don’t, does not mean they are worth mimicking. If you are a mobile ministry don’t use the excuse that you don’t have the student building the mega church has in the next city over.

    Spend some time studying the strengths and weakness of your own situation. The energy doing that analysis is way better spent!
  2. Look for Similar Outcomes

    Study the people who are succeeding in your type of ministry. If you minister in a diverse local community, look for churches succeeding in similar situations. If you meet in a theater, look at other churches that succeed there. If you are looking to grow your small group ministry, don’t just go look at a successful church, go look at one with successful small groups.

Tim (now on staff part time) and his team have worked hard over the last number of months and broke the 100 barrier this last weekend. They’ve still got work to do, but they know that the work ahead means working in their unique context on their unique goals.

One No Brainer Way To Build Your Organization's Culture

Culture is one of those ambiguous words we throw our organization. As leaders we have a sense of what we want it to be. We want a healthy culture. We want our staff and volunteers to consider our place a great place to work. But if a healthy culture is this secret sauce, how do we make sure everyone in our organization knows the recipe? 

Secret Sauce

Every team is different, every organization is more so. What worked at one doesn’t always work at the next. That means any time I’ve joined a new team I’ve had to spend some time observing. How does this team make decision? What do they say is most important? What’s actually most important?

Understanding how the new team works is critical to being able to survive and then thrive in the new environment.

So if that’s what it means to join a team, what does that mean for you as a team and/or organizational leader? 

It means that you’re rules of engagement have to be crystal clear. 

Most organizations now days have some form of a document that lists it’s mission, vision and values. There have been thousands of books and articles written on the importance of outlining these steering statements. And they're right. They are incredibly important. It’s even more important then that your organization is living out these statements. 

Enter, the no brainer way to build your organization's culture.

  1. Celebrate when people are living it out your mission, vision and values. 

Share their actions as crystal clear, real life examples of what it means to live out your organizational values. Have a party, give out awards. Show the rest of your organization the people and situations that exemplify who you are as an organization. These steering statements can’t just be words in a document some where. These are the things we value, the criteria by which we make decisions, the standard we hold each other to. 

Find a way to celebrate the examples you have. Look for opportunities to share real life stories that highlight these values (try a team email, see "How To Inform & Inspire Your Volunteer Team”). Have parties, share these examples before meetings or gatherings. Look for every opportunity to share to positive realization of what your organization says is most important. 

Without them being lived out, your mission, vision and values are just words on a page. And that’s not benefiting anyone. 

Question of the day: Are your mission, vision, values an accurate recipe for the culture you are trying to create? 

How To Inform & Inspire Your Volunteer Team

Effective volunteers are informed and inspired. This is easier said than done. The larger a volunteer team grows the harder it is to share stories, updates and vision. Unfortunately if you don't have a plan for communication, only a small handful of team members will have the luxury of staying in the know. 

In fact, I guarantee you that a portion of your team feels valued when you share information with them. Even if it's basic, sharing information makes your team feel involved and informed. 

There are a number of great tools out there to help you with this. Today I want to share with you the tool I use with my team. It's called Mailchimp. I've included a 12 minute walk through in setting up your first account below, plus 6 important elements to include in your next campaign.


Here are some important elements to include in your emails/campaigns:

  1. Stories - even if these are just a sentence or two, share quotes, email responses, etc. Anything that highlights the real people you are serving. 
  2. Make it personal - include a note to your team. Use your natural voice, not something formal or "polished". 
  3. Highlights - talk about what went well. Highlight what you want to reinforce. 
  4. Improvements - be honest about what you (as a team) are working on improving. 
  5. Updates - did your team set goals? Include a scoreboard. Help you team to keep track of progress. 
  6. Important Dates - you'd be surprised how overlooked this one is. I guarantee you, someone on your team will love you for including this. 

The most important thing is that you make sure you deliver value every week. Mailchimp will show you your open rates (how many people open your email every week). Challenge yourself to always be improving. Add value, keep the content interesting, informative and inspiring and you'll be building a solid, effective and cared for volunteer team. 

Get started by setting you our account here:  Mailchimp.