If you’ve been following this site, you know that we are working to develop a concept of excellence in online ministry. The first stage of this research project was to ask those leading successful online ministries what they think about excellence.
Eric Célérier has a passion for souls for God. He feels called by God to use the Internet to love people. Eric first started using the Internet as a tool to tell others about Christ in 1997 when the Internet first started to become popular in France. He is the founder of the evangelistic web sites Top Chrétien and GodRev, which are well-known for their innovation and success in online ministry. I was able to spend some time interviewing Eric for his insights on excellence. Below are highlights from the interview:
A: Excellence is having a love for individual people and for the whole world and wanting to answer the needs of people through the Internet. There are real people on the other side of the screen. Excellence is also getting results: we count people because people count for us. Excellence without visitors is either a start-up or a mistake!
Q: How do you obtain excellence?
A: You obtain excellence by first having a clear “DNA” for your online ministry. “DNA” is the values, visions, and vocations of the online ministry. You also need to have good processes put in place to follow-up with those who you interact with online. This can be done by partnering with quality organizations at the local level. To maintain excellence, you should always be “tuning” your online presence. This requires that you constantly monitor the technological landscape.
Q: What is more important, content or design?
A: Don’t use either word, instead let’s talk about the user “experience”. When you go to a restaurant, you don’t go just for the food or for the look of the dining room, you go for the experience. This is how Facebook draws so many people: not just the content, not just the design, but the experience of it. The experience of a web site is created by how you navigate through the content. When you are designing your site, foremost consideration must be given for how the users will experience it!
Q: What role does innovation play in online ministry?
A: There are two types of online ministries: those which are online only and those that are extensions of real world ministries. It is harder to innovate if you are an extension of a real world ministry. Innovation is not synonymous with creativity. Creativity is just a component of innovation; strategy and implementation are also important in the innovation process. The integration of these three seeds of innovation – creative thinking, strategic thinking, and transformational thinking – are all essential and must be practiced by all members of the company in order to achieve success and become an innovative organization.
Q: Can a smaller ministry expect to be achieve the same levels of excellence as larger ministries?
A: For a smaller organization, you must remember that excellence is not the same as perfection. Sometimes, it can be difficult to make the distinction. A small organization cannot spend too much time on details; the important thing is to love people and focus on the process.