Why A Ministry Blog Beats Email Everytime

Last week I wrote an article entitled, “Build Momentum & Create Unity With A Blog“. I’ve received a lot of questions about this topic recently. Underlying many of these questions has been the more foundational question of, “Why?” In particular, “WHY go through the pains of learning new technology and building new systems to create a blog when email works just as well?”

Answer: Because email DOESN’T work as well.

Reasons Why A Blog is Better.
Let me explain why. Following are some of the top reasons why I want you to consider creating a ministry blog. Remember, I’ve outlined three target audiences for three kinds of ministry blogs: congregation, volunteers, leaders.

  • It Gives People Options
    Unless your target audience is living in the last decade, email is no longer the preferred method of communication for the world at large. Yes. Most people now have email, but in today’s social media driven culture, people want to have choices. A blog gives those choices to people. The tech savvy may choose to subscribe to your blog via a blog reader like Google Reader, NewsGator, or BlogLines while the less tech savvy still have the option to utilize email.
  • It Leverages Social Media
    Similarly, there are ways to connect blog entries to various forms of social media. For instance, every blog post could also be connected to your personal or church Twitter, FaceBook, or LinkedIn accounts.
  • It Encourages Feedback
    If you keep your blog’s ‘Comments’ feature turned on, then you will encourage input and feedback from your readers. Sometimes blog comments can become a great place for people to get engaged in the topic, especially if the author stays connected in the comment discussions.
  • It Expands Your Influence
    A good blog will make it very easy for readers to re-post individual articles to their friends and family – as well as to the world at large. For example, at the bottom of this post you will find several buttons that you may use to repost this article on your social media medium of choice (including email). You may also ‘Stumble’ this article which will increase the chances that stumbleupon users will find your website.
  • It Is Searchable
    It is easy for your readers to find you or a particular article. In fact, often they can search and find what they need right from a Google Search. For instance, if you Google “Ten Systems of the Local Church” you will very likely see several of my posts show up in the results. Additionally, you can add a search field to your blog, making it easy for your readers to search your blog for something you said in an old post.
  • It Stays Active
    Emails come and go at the click of a button. It shows up in the inbox, we read it, then delete it. Not true for blogs. Every entry is saved and readily available for your readers to quickly find and read again, as needed.
  • It Can Be Organized
    One of the best benefits of a basic blog is the use of labels or tags. An intentional blogger will tag every article with a category or label of choice. For instance, blogs promoting events could be tagged, “events”; devotional blogs could be tagged, “inspirational”; leadership blogs . . . you get the point. Again as an example, check out the labels on my blogs to the left on this site.
  • It Maximizes Communication
    It is so easy to help new members, volunteers, or leaders ‘catch up’ on things you have communicated and said in the past – especially if you use labels effectively. For example, let’s say you have a Host Ministry blog for your greeters & ushers. Every new recruit could be sent to the blog with instructions to read all entries labelled, “How To Greet” as part of their initial training.
  • It Gets Things Done
    Let’s face it. You probably don’t have the time or emotional energy to write a ministry or volunteer manual. To do it right you would want to include a lot of great material, like inspiration, instruction, policies, procedures, and especially values. You never get around to it because it’s such a big project. Your blog gets it done. Assuming you blog regularly, you will be closer to your goal in 18 months of blogging than you have been in years.
I could go on. Suffice it to say, a ministry blog beats a email as a standard communication medium any day. NOTE: I am not suggesting you replace personal email communications with your blog. Let’s be very clear. I’m talking about ongoing encouragement, inspiration, and communication to your readers. I’m not talking about personal interaction. That will happen best face to face, over the phone, email, etc.

Build Momentum & Create Unity With A Blog


I am a proud father of four fantastic children. Every day I get to hang out with my preteen daughter, gradeschooler, preschooler, and toddler. As you might expect my daughter and her three younger brothers attend the youth and children’s programs at my church. My wife and I want to stay informed about what’s going on with our kids at church. Elim Gospel Church’s Children’s Pastor, Rob Hagstrom, is doing a great job.

In the last week I’ve received three communications in my personal inbox because I am subscribed to his blog. On Monday I received a summary of what my gradeschooler has been learning all month. On Tuesday I received a post entitled ‘Understanding Your Toddler‘ and this morning I received one more informing me that there will be no kids program this Sunday night as well as information on upcoming kids ministry events, Sunday morning message topics, and Scripture memory verses. I am well informed.

I am pretty certain EGC’s communication to parents has never been better! Here’s the important part . . . IT’S REAL EASY TO DO AND IT’S FREE!

How You Can Enhance Communication With A Blog
I’d like to suggest several ways a simple blog can revolutionize how you communicate with your congregation, volunteers, and influencers. In a future post I will share some tactical tips on getting started with a free blog platform like WordPress or Blogger.

This section highlights some ideas on how the pastor can maximize communication to his congregation. Note: Some churches have a ‘church blog’ that includes several authors, not just the Lead Pastor.

  • Recap the Sunday Morning Message
    I have a surprise for you pastors. People don’t actually talk about your sermon all week long. In fact, you’re lucky if they remember the theme of your message by Sunday night. Sorry. The good news is that you can refresh their memory with your blog. Probably the best time to do this is on Sunday night or Monday morning (within 24 hours of your message).
  • Communicate Big Events
    Although I wouldn’t recommend you blog about every single event in the church, it can be very effective to blog about upcoming events that you want everyone in the church to get excited about with you.
  • Share a Devotional 
    Let your congregation get extra input from you during the week, besides the weekend sermon. Share a brief word of encouragement during the week.
  • Setup Your Message
    You may want to occasionally encourage your congregation to ‘get ready’ for your upcoming message with a short story, Scripture, or quote.
  • Get Personal
    Your blog could be a great way for your congregation to stay current on various and interesting things going on in your life. For instance, if you just had a baby – post a pic!
  • Highlight A Story, Person, or Current Event
    People love stories – and they want to hear from the leaders in their lives. Use your blog to tell transformation stories from people in your blog. Or invite an elder to post a devotional thought or story as a guest blogger. Finally, link your readers to another blog, article, or news piece that you feel is relevant to them.
  • Enhance a Sermon Series
    At Elim Gospel Church we have occasionally utilized Pastor Josh Finley’s blog to emphasize a sermon series. For instance, in our “New Thru 30” series (we read the New Testament together in 30 days) we organized various church leaders to write an article and arranged them into the blog so that church members received an article every day for the 30 day series.
This section highlights ideas on how a ministry director could utilize a blog to effectively inspire, instruct and inform volunteers in each one’s unique area of ministry. For example, your Greeter Ministry might create a blog for your greeters, cafe hosts, and ushers; or your Children’s Ministry might create a blog for the preschool and/or gradeschool volunteers.
  • Inspire
    Your volunteers will be most effective when they are inspired. Use your blog to motivate them towards fulfilling your church mission and vision by sharing stories, links, articles, etc. For example, this would be a great place to share a short devotion with the Worship Team about the ‘audience of One’ during worship.
  • Inform
    Everyone knows that confusion breeds anxiety; and lack of communication breeds confusion. There’s probably no better way to frustrate volunteers than to keep them in the dark about what they should know to be a success. Things like volunteer meetings, volunteer schedules and information about what they are supposed to do, when, and how are all extremely important. Additionally, your volunteers want to know about your new strategies and ideas before you implement them. A ministry blog is a perfect place to roll out any or all of those things. 
  • Instruct
    Another way to create a frustrating environment for volunteers is by holding back on the pertinent training, resources, and procedures needed to be successful. Your ministry blog can help to facilitate this by providing links, articles, and information on how to do their job. For example, your could write a simple article for your Greeters one week entitled, “How To Greet Parents”. You could share three simple steps. Again, as an example: (1)”Offer assistance with doors and coats.” (2)”Greet the child(ren) first.” (3)”Greet the parent next.”
This final section highlights ideas on how you might utilize a blog to encourage unity among your members and leaders. For example, you might encourage all of your members to subscribe to this blog so that your leadership can effectively keep them informed about strategic plans designed to fulfill your church’s mission.
  • Missional Momentum
    Your blog is a great place to systematically reinforce your church’s mission. This can be done with key stories, exhortations, and short teachings that reinforce and remind your influencers of ‘Why We Do What We Do.”
  • Values Reinforcement
    Similarly, a leadership blog can be very effective in strengthening your church’s core values. For instance, if you have a core value of ‘integrity’ or ‘caring’ or ‘family-focused’ you can highlight that value on occasion with an example of what fulfilling that value might ‘look like’ or ‘sound like’ in the context of ministry in the church body.
  • Culture Shifts
    Most church leaders understand that culture shifts can be a long and tedious process. Your leadership blog can help to build or maintain momentum with culture oriented strategies. For example, let’s say you have been intentionally focusing on building a ‘guest friendly culture’ or a ‘prayer culture’ in your congregation. That won’t happen overnight; but it CAN happen over time and with consistent reminders from your influencers blog.
  • Vision Casting & Strategic Roll-outs
    You want your influencers to be informed and have time to process change and new initiatives. A well thought out blog series can play a big role in setting your leaders up for success as they have time to give their own input and feel part of the beginning stages of your vision. For example, you may be getting ready to start a new small group initiative. You could write several articles over the course of a few weeks to your influencers first letting them know the development of this vision and asking for input and feedback. The result will be greater buy-in and trust from your leaders.
  • Feedback
    Since this particular kind of blog is dedicated to your ministry leaders and influencers, it can be a great platform to get honest feedback without worry that guests or the community is privy to conversations that could perhaps be misunderstood. Posing a question in your blog and inviting comments or inserting a survey into your blog can be very effective and easy.
  • Communication
    Similar to Volunteer oriented blogs, your leadership blog can be a great tool to request or remind your influencers to do something or be somewhere. For instance, you might write a short blog the week before Easter requesting all influencers to remember three things on Sunday morning: (1)Greet 3 People You Don’t Know. (2)Show Up 10 Minutes Early. (3)Let Us Know Of Any Problems Right Away.

Thursday Quote: Sticky Church & Legos

One of the best books we have read as a team at Elim Gospel Church on developing and maintaining healthy small groups and closing the ‘back door’ is the book, “Sticky Church“, by Larry Osborne. I guarantee you that this book will not only give you fresh ideas for group ministry, but it will also help you communicate some of the principles on group life in the local church. It’s not necessary that you adopt every idea/philosophy represented as it is necessary for you to get/stay sharpened in helping people find authentic and lasting community in your church body.

I highly recommend this book!

Excerpt from Pages 79-80 of ‘Sticky Church

“I think of people as being like Legos. We all have a limited number of connectors. Introverts have a few. Some extroverts have dozens. But either way, once they’re full, they’re full. And when that happens, we tend to be friendly but to not connect. It’s what happens when you move to a new town and are excited by everyone’s friendliness, only to be discouraged three months later that you haven’t connected with anyone.”

“This can be very confusing and frustrating for people who are new to a community or church. The acts of friendship send one message, but the lack of connections send another. It’s why so many people complain about churches being cliquesh. The realit is, it’s not so much a church full of cliques as it is a church full of people whose connectors are already full. Obviously, this can be a huge problem when it comes to assimilating new people into a small group or even a congregation. But it can also be put to use by employing a bit of spiritual jujitsu.”

Recommended products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ten Church Strategies: A Strategic Culture


I’m convinced that healthy and growing churches result from BOTH prayer and strategic planning. I’m pretty sure you can’t have one without the other. I know that God expects us to both seek Him and make things happen. Jesus hit on this very idea in The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 when he described the pleased master as saying:

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things.” Matthew 25:21

In this final installment of ‘The Ten Church Systems‘ I will talk about perhaps one of the most important (and least attended) aspects of a growing church and organization: Strategic Planning. I recommend you also read some of the ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’ I wrote prior to this series on systems. It was written in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of the Strategic System
Following are the key sub-systems of strategic development in the local church. Ironically, we’re discussing what your strategy is for ongoing strategic planning.

  • The Strategic Team & Strategic Meetings
    Strategic planning is not a solo sport. Although one individual can plan and implement plans, that’s not how a healthy church will function – nor is it very effective. This system will build the best possible team (or teams) of leaders and will include regular, consistent and well led strategic meetings throughout the year. 
  • Philosophy of Ministry Development (mission/vision/values)
    It’s very difficult for your church leaders and staff to get where you’re going when it hasn’t been defined. Howard Hendricks said, “If it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pew.” This system includes the development of your church mission statement, core values, and long range vision statements. Once that is done, this system will also ensure that your philosophy of ministry is integrated into every area of church life. 
  • Strategic Evaluation & Feedback
    Feedback is the bread and butter of successful strategic planning. Without regular and unbiased input your church will create amazing strategic plans that lead in the wrong direction. It can be the difference between hitting the target in the bulls eye and simply hitting the target. This system will create ways to evaluate every aspect of church life. It will include evaluating how well the Philosophy of Ministry is being integrated throughout church events and activities. It will also include occasional or regular evaluation of each of The Ten Church Systems. Finally, this system will evaluate the effectiveness of all major sub-systems and tactical plans.
  • Strategic Metrics & Benchmarks
    Metrics take evaluation and feedback to a whole new level. They will play a big role in setting agenda items for future strategic meetings. Besides revealing possible areas of weakness in the church, they will also bring great encouragement when your team is doing things right – resulting in growth and an increase in positive life change in your congregation. This system will track important areas of growth over a period of months and years. Common metrics often include giving, attendance, and small group participation.
  • Strategic Coaching & Training
    It is rare for the average pastor to be knowledgeable in every aspect of church life and development. Most pastors have been trained in the Bible, public speaking, and other aspects of spiritual care and oversight. Strategic planning and organizational development usually are at the bottom of their repertoire of skill sets. This is why it is critical the pastor and church leaders gather around themselves others who excel in those areas. This system will ensure that strategic planning happens through regular input from ministry coaches and/or a strategic leader. This system will also include ongoing training in areas of strategic planning for the pastor and all church leaders. (tip: subscribe to this blog!)
  • Ongoing Strategic Planning
    If you’ve followed along at all, then it’s very likely you’ve become overwhelmed reading through all of the ‘Ten Systems’ and their various sub-systems. No church can focus on every area at once. This system will ensure the feedback, metrics, and strategic team are all utilized in the best possible way in order to focus on the most important areas of church health and growth each year. It also includes basic training in strategic thinking for all key staff and leaders. Ideally, strategic planning will take place at every level of leadership and for every area of ministry in the church.
  • Strategic Roll-out & Tactical Planning
    At some point, everybody needs to stop talking and start doing. Surprisingly, this can be very difficult to do. Strategic Planning can easily become a sinkhole that leaders and teams can never find their way out of. This system will finalize strategic development through the creation of tactical plans. This system will also include intentional strategic steps to ‘roll-out’ new plans to other church leaders and the congregation without creating mass discord or dissension.

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

Free Christmas Video Resource from Gateway Church!


I read on Tony Morgan’s blog earlier this week that Gateway Church (Pastor Robert Morris) is offering a free Christmas Video to anyone who wants it; and it’s available in HD.

If you’re looking for a last minute video resource to show before, during or after your Christmas Eve or Sunday service – or perhaps just on your website, this video may be just what you are looking for. Enjoy!


Ten Church Strategies: The Discipleship Strategy


I remember when I heard one of my children tell my wife that they hoped to grow up and be just like daddy. Nothing is more honoring than having someone want to emulate you. Discipleship in it’s purest form reflects the believer’s desire to emulate Jesus Christ. The childlike faith inside us says, “When I grow up I want to be like Jesus.”

I’ve never met a pastor who doesn’t have discipleship as a primary goal of ministry. Many would argue that it is THE primary mission of the church. In this installment of the Ten Church Systems I will discuss how the local church can strategically develop a balanced discipleship plan. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read my ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’, written in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of the Discipleship System
Following are the key sub-systems necessary to ensure the ministries, events, and services at your church lead to discipleship opportunities for your congregation. Note: This system will normally interface with every other system in the church. It will also tend to be more ‘strategic’ in nature than the rest of the systems (except for the Strategic System).

  • Discipleship Clarity System
    The local church will not facilitate discipleship effectively without first clarifying what constitutes discipleship. This system will strategically define the key facets of discipleship including all essential themes to plan and implement each year. As an example, Elim Gospel Church has defined six areas of discipleship (with some help from Rick Warren’s book ‘The Purpose Driven Life‘). Those areas include: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship (which includes areas of practical life management like finances/workplace/parenting/etc.), Service, Outreach and Power. EGC has also identified the key themes surrounding each of those six areas.
  • Discipleship Method System
    Once the key facets of discipleship have been defined, it is necessary to determine what methods (experiences/events/activities) the church has available to facilitate discipleship. The most common methods will include the Sunday service, classes, Sunday school, small groups and retreats. Others may also include pastor blogs, websites, publications, social media, conferences, etc. 
  • Discipleship Implementation System
    Finally, every theme of discipleship will carry a strategic plan for implementation, utilizing the church’s list of identified discipleship methods. This system will determine how each key area of discipleship will be offered to the congregation or community. Although not every theme and area of discipleship will be offered in equal measure, the best discipleship system will ensure all are included. For example, at Elim Gospel Church the theme of ‘Parenting’ is strategically implemented by making group materials available to small groups, pulpit teaching throughout the year, a special ‘Parenting’ class every other year, and a blog from the children’s pastor which includes regular encouragement to parents.

It is important to note that nearly every method of discipleship will require several ‘sub-systems’ to effectively fulfill the goal of discipleship. Most have already been covered in The Ten Church Systems, but there are a few that haven’t been mentioned to date and should be recognized as an important system that facilitates ministry. Again, examples may include a church sponsored three day conference/retreat, a simulcast, a missions trip, a food pantry, an outreach into the community, and more.

One of the most important aspects of this system is in ensuring that each method and it’s implementation is realistic and balanced with the overall life of the church and that it remains central to the church’s overall mission.

NEXT – Go to ‘Ten Church Systems: The Strategic System

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

Ten Church Strategies: The Leadership Strategy


A few years ago, Bill Hybels ‘REVEALED‘ to the church at large that they (and probably many others) had missed something important in running the church over the years. They discovered that church leaders and mature members tended to feel sidelined or unneeded in the church. That’s a very broad summary, but true nonetheless. Sometimes us pastors can focus so much on guests, new believers, and the hurting/needy in our community that everyone else could easily get bored and frustrated.

In this installment of ‘The Ten Church Systems‘ I will discuss some ways pastors can ensure that leaders stay loyal to and integrally involved in the mission of the church. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read my ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’, written in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of the Leadership System
Following are the key sub-systems I recommend every church to utilize to maintain unity and purpose among the core influencers within the church. It’s important to keep in mind that these systems should supplement ‘The Ministry Partner System (Volunteers)’.

  • Ministry DNA System
    Before you can release potential leaders to serve alongside you, it’s critical to affirm that they are ready for a place of increased influence and authority in the church. This is one of the main reasons why many pastors don’t release others into leadership – out of fear that by doing so, the results may one day lead to major conflict. This system will allow the pastoral leadership to evaluate prospective leaders through the lenses of the Four C’s, will provide DNA training about the church’s mission, vision, and values, and will require a commitment from the leaders to support that church mission and the direction of it’s key leaders. This system may also include standards/procedures on what to do if it is no longer appropriate for a current leader to continue in their ministry role. 
  • On-Ramp System
    Leaders won’t naturally glide towards places of influence; they need to be asked and given opportunities. This system will determine when a volunteer is ready to move to the next level of influence in their respective areas of responsibility and how they will be encouraged into that next step. It will also include a means through which he or she can serve as a ministry coach to other volunteers or potential volunteers (apprentices). 
  • Ownership System
    People want something to believe in; they want to make a difference. This is what motivates leaders to get involved and give of themselves extravagantly. Ownership is a key to developing committed leaders. This system will ensure that leaders have a voice in select church strategies and incentives (Note: that ‘voice’ will be based on their level of influence and will apply to their respective areas of involvement). It will also include regular leadership training and ongoing communication about new church strategies and vision adjustments.
  • Support System
    It can be so easy to allow productive and committed leaders to serve for months, even years, in the background with little to no support or encouragement. This system will provide consistent feedback, meaningful resources, and systematic encouragement, with the occasional public recognition thrown in for good measure. It will also provide a clear, easy way for leaders to get the help or assistance they need at any given time, should they need it. Ideally, every leader will have his own ministry coach/mentor who he/she can turn to for advice.
NEXT – ‘Ten Church Systems: The Discipleship System’ . . . Coming Soon

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

Ten Church Strategies: The Stewardship Strategy

I’m not sure which is more difficult for pastors to talk about from the pulpit, sex or money. I suspect the latter. Talking about money is personal. It can feel (and be) risky. We can get nervous that our listeners will tell stories in their heads about our real motives. The fear of being misunderstood ends up leading the charge. This is so completely unfortunate. Often, the local church ends up limping along because it lacks necessary resources and God’s people live in bondage because they haven’t learned about biblical stewardship.

In this installment of ‘The Ten Church Systems‘ I will talk about putting money in it’s place both for the church as a whole as well as for individual attendees. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read my ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’, written in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of the Stewardship System
Following are the key sub-systems related to stewardship in the local church. It’s critical to understand that stewardship happens from the top-down. It is through pastoral leadership and their personal example that people truly understand and embrace this aspect of personal discipleship.

  • Church Budget System
    Whether you are operating from a budget of $50,000 or $5,000,000 you need a plan. That’s biblical stewardship 101. This system will include how the church builds and maintains a realistic and effective budget. Budget items should include operational income/expenses, savings, depreciation savings, etc. 
  • Financial Accountability System
    In a society where overspending and debt are the norm, the church needs to be extra careful not just in balancing the budget, but in doing so with integrity. This system will ensure money is collected, handled and managed appropriately. It will include some form of board oversight, occasional audits, as well as clearly defined policies and procedures.
  • Organizational Generosity System
    A critical foundation of biblical stewardship includes the principle of giving. Pastors and church leaders will model this with their own checkbooks as well as with the generosity of the organization as a whole. This system will clarify how much the church gives to the needy, missions, and other meaningful God-inspired initiatives.
  • Bookkeeping System
    Of all the systems in the church, the bookkeeping system should be among the most well defined and managed. This system will tactically manage finances and includes financial software, trained staff, bank accounts, etc.
  • Giving On-Ramp System
    Surprisingly, people often WANT to give, but don’t have easy ways to do so. This system will clarify all methods by which people can give. It may include methods like traditional offering baskets, offering envelopes, giving drop-boxes, and online giving.  
  • Regular Teaching System
    Since nobody openly talks personally about money, everyone assumes that everyone besides them is doing well financially. The general myth says, “I’m drowning in debt, but the people I know and respect aren’t.” This system provides the biblical instruction your congregation and community are desperately craving, but will never admit. It will include annual sermon series, random pulpit messages, as well as regularly offered classes on personal finances and stewardship.
  • Giving Campaigns System
    If people are going to give, they will only do so if it’s for a good cause, something they believe in. This system gives people something to give to and for. It will include all aspects of effective giving campaigns, whether long range or short range. Giving campaigns may focus on missions, building, a needy family, community outreach and more.

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

Image compliments of renjith krishnan at

Ten Church Strategies: The Ministry Partner Strategy (Volunteers)


Check out this quote from Bill Hybels from his book, ‘Volunteer Revolution‘:

“It’s as if God has work gloves on. And he calls us to roll up our sleeves and join him with our talents, our money, our time, and our passion. He wants his mission to become ours. ‘If you’re chasing the wind,’ he tells us, ‘you can keep right on doing that. Or you can hook up with me, and together we’ll transform this hurting planet.'”

The Ministry Partner System is the local church’s answer to God’s call for everyone to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and partner with Him. The problem is that individuals often view the local church as an organization meant to serve him or herself instead of seeing themselves as being a vital part of a body of believers. Ephesians 4 clearly defines a key role of the pastor (among others): “…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” In this installment of ‘The Ten Church Systems‘ I will outline how the church can identify, equip, and release people to ‘partner’ together in fulfilling your church’s mission. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read my ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’, written in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of The Ministry Partner System (Volunteers)
Following are the key sub-systems needed to develop and sustain this system. Please note that the term “Ministry Partner” and “Volunteer” are interchangeable throughout this article.

  • Ministry Identification System
    It can be very frustrating to potential volunteers when they actually want to serve somewhere in the church, but have no information about what volunteer positions are available and what the commitment is for each one. This system will identify every ministry position in the church as well as clarify each one’s basic job description, ministry expectations and requirements. 
  • Ministry On-Ramp System
    It seems the traditional method for filling volunteer positions in the church is through direct recruitment. Although this method can be very effective if done properly, it can become grossly inadequate, plus it means potential volunteers won’t find a place to serve until they get that phone call or email. The ‘Ministry On-Ramp System’ will develop simple ways for church attendees to get plugged into each person’s best possible position. On ramps may include web based solutions, signup tables, ministry fairs, ministry partner classes, sermon series and more. Depending on your church’s Ministry Partner strategy, it may also include a volunteer apprenticeship program.
  • Ministry Partner Resource System
    As the Systems/People Matrix so aptly illustrates, putting great people into bad systems leads to frustration, resentment, and often a high turnover of some of your best people. This system is a critical part to your church’s health and growth. It will include volunteer training (helping them understand how to do the job as well as allowing them to develop and grow in it), resourcing (making sure they have everything they need to be a success), and encouragement (providing meaningful and regular feedback).
  • Ministry Partner Communication System
    Although communication could really fall within the above mentioned ‘Ministry Partner Resource System’, it deserves it’s own mention since it is so critical to a healthy volunteer system. The fact is, good communication breeds loyalty, trust, and commitment while bad communication develops the exact opposite. This system will ensure your volunteers are on the same page with you regarding schedules, expectations and potential problems.
  • Ministry Partner Celebration System
    It’s OK that we have volunteers who serve ‘behind the scenes’. It’s not OK that they are so incognito that weeks, months, even years go by without a ‘thanks’, ‘we are so proud to have you on this team’ and ‘your contribution makes a difference’! This system will ensure everyone is honored and cared for during their tenure as volunteers (instead of just at the end of their tenure!) This system may include simple ‘thank you cards‘, emails, phone calls, and perhaps even an event like a ‘Volunteer Appreciation Banquet’. It is recommended that the celebration system also utilizes the occasional gift certificate and acknowledges milestones (5, 10, 15+ years of service).

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

Photo from mangostock on

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Do Something Different

This past Sunday our church did something unique. It got people talking, created some buzz, added value to the message, and created a memory for our congregation. It was something different.

We held a ‘No-Show’ Sunday. We removed all of the volunteers from the schedule and replaced them with cardboard silhouettes. We trimmed down the service to almost nothing. No projection, videos, lights, or worship team. Our worship leader led from a guitar. The words to the songs were in the  bulletin – which people picked up themselves because there were no greeters or ushers. Everyone left right after the service because there was no cafe. Staff and key elders ran the preschool – there was no programming for gradeschoolers. I could go on, but you get the idea. Our series title is ‘Me to We’ – we’re talking about partnering together in ministry through service in the church. It was awesome.

When was the last time you did something unique, different and memorable?

I ran across this video clip at today. It’s about a store called ‘The Limited’ that did something different. What could you do in your church or community this winter that people would always remember (in a good way)?

Can’t see this video? Click this link.

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