We’re continuing our series building a case for excellence in online ministry. Today Dr. David Bourgeois explores how excellence can help ministries navigate through the chaotic environment of the Internet with strategic focus.
If you are a ministry leader interested in achieving excellence online we’d love to hear from you. You can learn more about the Excellence in Online Ministry project. Click here to participate in our online ministry research.
Through our interviews of leaders of successful online ministries, one thing has become clear: excellent online ministries have a clear sense of their own identity, know what they want to accomplish online, and have developed a plan that specifically focuses on achieving measurable goals. In other words, they have a strategy. This strategy allows them to confidently and successfully navigate the chaos of the web.
One of the first things an excellent organization needs to do is to understand who they are. What is the underlying purpose of their ministry? For many ministries, the original purpose has been expanded or revised and many people in the organization are not quite sure about what the focus should be. Are we about spreading the gospel of Christ? Are we a missionary support organization? Are we a teaching ministry? All of these are worthy identities – but in order to develop a truly successful strategy, you need to be able to define exactly who you are.
Once identity is determined, the excellent ministry has developed a set of goals that are in-line with that identity. What do you want to happen online in support of your ministry purpose? These are your strategic goals and to be effective, they must be measurable. By identifying goals that are aligned with your ministry identity, you are focusing on outcomes that are achievable for your ministry and will have a better sense of which web activities will help you achieve those goals.
But what if your goal is something difficult to measure, such as “to deepen the believer’s relationship with Christ.”? It can be difficult to measure such goals directly, but it is possible to identify metrics that are indicative of these goals. In this example, a ministry could choose to measure how many times someone accessed specific materials or returned to the site. A little bit of creativity can turn even the most “unmeasurable” goals into measurable ones.
Once a ministry understands the goals of its site, it can begin to make determinations about the technology platforms and tools that will help it achieve its goals. Unfortunately, many ministries want to do this as the first step! A good strategy makes trade-offs that allow the ministry to focus on one or two tools that best meet their goals. When new innovations or tools become available, it is a strategy which will help you make your decision about how to move forward.
If your ministry wants to be excellent, it must have a strategy. Of course, fully implementing a strategy is much more complex than the few steps outlined here, but these are the fundamental starting points. Having a strategy will allow you to effectively navigate the chaotic environment of the Internet.
The Excellence in Online Ministry project is helping ministries achieve excellence online. I invite your ministry to participate in our online ministry research.