3 Symptoms of a Schizoid Ministry
How can we make sure that our ministry and our marketing are synonymous, and that we don’t get the marketing cart before the ministry horse?
Let’s look at 3 common symptoms of ministry/marketing schizophrenia. Can you identify any of these in your ministry?
- Detached Donor Syndrome
Review your communications with your donors: appeal letters, emails, videos, social media, the works. Do they reflect the concept of “You give me money so I can do ministry”?
Look for phrases like:
- “help us accomplish,”
- “we need,”
- “if you … then we can,”
and so forth. Those are the ugly paw prints of schizophrenia.
Or do your donor communications express the idea, “Let’s do ministry together”?
Look for phrases like:
- “you can accomplish,”
- “you’ll make,”
- “you’ll touch,”
- “together, we will,”
and the like. This kind of language reflects the attitude that the donor is part of the team, that God is going to work through the entire ministry family to accomplish His plan.
- Divided and Conquered Syndrome
Check your stomach. How do you feel when you arrive at work in the morning? Eager, relaxed, energized? Or tense, irritable, worried?
When a Christian organization sees its ministry and its marketing as separate things, that schizophrenia often grows into (or out of) an even more fractured environment. A ministry can become a virtual war zone…
- with the board and the ministry principal warily circling one another,
- or the leader and executive staff regarding each other as adversaries,
- or the staff holding the leadership up to secret scorn,
- or board members maneuvering for position and power,
- or the development agency and employees viewing each other as morons,
- or any combination thereof.
Irritable staffs are tragically commonplace in Christian organizations. And turf warfare is a reliable sign of schizophrenia. In these ministries, not only have marketing and ministry come to be regarded as separate things, but each function of the ministry — each department, each office — has evolved into a miniature “state” all its own.
In such Balkanized organizations, frustration runs high, efficiency runs low, and both the quantity and the quality of the ministry itself suffer grievously.
- Absent Father Syndrome
In some organizations, the ministry principal only rarely participates in any meetings where marketing is being discussed.
- Sometimes the principal declines to attend marketing meetings, but has a manager report back to him for “sign-off” on what the marketing team has decided.
- Or he simply dictates from the isolation of his office what the marketing emphasis is to be — and the marketing team tries to make the best of it.
- Or (most dangerous of all) the principal stays out of it altogether, leaving an executive to make decisions on his behalf and a secretary to sign his communications.
In any event, the leader of the ministry stays above the marketing fray.
- This kind of situation often corresponds to mayhem in the ministry’s marketing area (and in the ministry operation generally);
- in other cases, staff members way down the chain of command may set de facto ministry policy by acting as “gatekeepers” for the leader.
A friend who serves as a ministry marketing consultant describes one organization where more than a dozen people passed judgment on every component of the marketing program before the leader ever saw it. In 8 years, the leader never attended one marketing meeting; in fact, the marketing consultant never saw him face-to-face or carried on a phone conversation with him for the first 3 years.
Consequently, the marketing program was “fed” up the line, with each staff and board member making his or her changes — until the final, pathetic, watered-down product was presented to the leader for his approval.
No wonder the marketing consultant found himself in massive battles over “what the ministry is about” and “what the message ought to be”!
A ministry leader who totally separates himself from the marketing process does his ministry no service. He may have no God-given gift for marketing; he may have no instincts for marketing; he may be one of those leaders clearly raised up by God to accomplish a mission but also clearly unable to contribute ideas to the nuts-and-bolts of the ministry’s marketing effort….
And yet, he must be involved — because ministry is not like building SUVs. It is not assembly line work. It is the outgrowth of “community.”
Let’s look at “community” next….