Ministry Starting
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How Much Work Are You Making New People Do?

Ministry starting and building tip: Make New People Work as Little as Possible

blacksmithOur family has been “the new couple” at quite a few churches since the summer and the word that comes to mind for us is TIRING. Most of these churches have been above average in their ability to welcome us; yet we are still worn out from leaving our kids with strangers, having our kids revolt from childcare, shaking hands with lots of strangers, awkward pauses in conversations, etc.

I came across a post on why Wesabe.com lost to Mint.com in the battle for an online personal money management application. I love these real life stories of what makes one company succeed over the other especially when they offer similar tools or features.

My favorite and the most real quote from the post:

“I was focused on trying to make the usability of editing data as easy and functional as it could be; Mint was focused on making it so you never had to do that at all. Their approach completely kicked our approach’s ass.”

I’ve seen many Campus Crusade movements excel at “making so you never had to do that at all.” Couple examples:

  • Meeting freshmen students at their door or dorm room and walking them to a meeting (bible study, large group meeting, etc), instead of giving them directions.
  • Taking the initiative to add people to their Facebook Page instead of announcing it and hoping for the best.
  • Greeting and inviting new people to events regardless of how well they are known.

Churches however seem to have a greater challenge in doing this, mainly because their community is distributed over a larger area, and do not have as many natural connections as do college students.

If you are starting a ministry or evaluating your current one a good factor to consider is how much effort it takes for a new person to get involved, and then brainstorming some ways to minimize or eliminate that friction. Related to this is information transfer: how hard/easy is it to get the information a new person shares into a central database as well as into the hands of a person to reach out and connect with them.

A few examples of good and functional central databases:

  • Facebook page or group
  • Google spreadsheet
  • Excel sheet stored on a central dropbox account

When commenting on some of the superior features of his product over Mint.com’s the CEO of Wesabe.com ended his post with this:

“…none of them matter if the product is harder to use, since most people simply won’t care enough or get enough benefit from long-term features if a shorter-term alternative is available.”

Sure new people are more skeptical of authority and naturally disposed to distrust new environments (churches and ministries) BUT we as ministry leaders can always be on the look out for friction and remove as much of that as possible to help the new person get connected.

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