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Do you recognize any (or all) of these core issues in your ministry?

When our team works with a church on strategic planning, the church pinpoints several “core issues” they believe are the most important things holding them back from being the church God has called them to be. After identifying those areas, they can make plans that will actually move them towards sustained health.

As you might imagine, over the last several months, we are noticing these core issues are shifting as churches wrestle with how to engage a new normal. We wanted to update you on the trends we see in the core issues that consistently arise.

Here are the top five—

We’ve worked with a lot of churches in the last few years, and we wanted to update you on the trends we see in the core issues that consistently arise. 

1) Digital Ministry Strategy

Churches are trying to figure out how to establish a digital ministry strategy that connects with people outside the church and outside the faith. At the same time, they also want to provide online experiences for people who are already connected to the church.

The biggest challenge? Churches are beginning to realize they need a new team creating content and experiences targeted specifically to an online audience. It’s one more example of how a change in strategy requires churches to also consider a change in structure.

2) Family Ministry

Because churches are starting to recognize that reaching young adults is critical to the future of their ministries, more and more churches are beginning to prioritize ministry to these young families. They recognize that environments and experiences for kids (think newborn through elementary school) have to be phenomenal. More importantly, churches are trying to equip and partner with parents—both those parents who are single and those who are married. 

By the way, kids don’t drive themselves to church. So churches who want to reach kids for Jesus are prioritizing creating in-person and online experiences that their parents want to engage with, as well. This is probably the number one priority of an effective ministry to kids.

3) Discipleship Pathway

Churches are having difficulty creating a solid and simple discipleship path to help regular attendees, as well as newcomers, take next steps in their walk with Christ.

Many churches have an overwhelming number of programs available, but no cohesive path that helps people learn which steps to take and when. Those churches that do have a clear track for spiritual formation, often don’t include a specific step to encourage relational evangelism. And that may be why the next “core issue” is trending.

4) Outreach Strategy

For many churches, their outreach strategy either involved serving in the community with the hope that the people who were being served would take a next step toward Jesus. Or, they hoped people would invite their friends to attend a worship service. We should serve people and we should continue to invite people to church, but churches are recognizing outreach needs to look different going forward. 

At The Unstuck Group, we encourage churches to use a two-pronged approach. The first focus is a relational evangelism strategy to encourage people in the church to reach the people God has in their daily lives. Secondly, we encourage the use of an online engagement strategy to provide content and experiences that engage with people who are outside the church and outside the faith.

5) Communications

Churches often identify two challenges related to communications. First, they don’t have an intentional communications strategy to connect with the person they’re trying to reach. Secondly, they indicated there’s a communication gap internally with the people who are already a part of the church. 

This second challenge is often linked to the lack of a clear discipleship path. Without that, ministry programs and events (and there often are many) begin to compete with each other for people’s time and attention. When that happens, there’s always a sense among both the staff and the congregation that it’s a communications problem…when in many cases it’s a complexity problem.

Do you recognize any (or all) of these core issues in your ministry?

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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