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Top Posts of 2013 #1: “10 Insider Focused Ministry Names”

This post generated the most traffic on Helping Churches Make Vision Real this year. Mainly because church-people did a Google search for ministry names and stumbled across this post. I sure bet they were surprised.

The language we choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time.  And one of the most obvious ways to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.”

In helping churches get unstuck and make vision real I’ve run across a number of insider focused ministry names. In fact here’s a link to a post with a free tool that you can use as you begin to evaluate your own ministry names and language you’re using in your church. Remember it’s always more important to be clear than clever. Here’s a quick list of 10 insider focused ministry names to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Nation2Nine: A Young Adult Ministry in a church targeting people age 20-29. While it may be clear to people inside the church what this is, it doesn’t say anything to people outside of the church.

Romeo: “Real Old Men Eating Out,” a once a week gathering of old men who eat out together and talk about God’s Word together. Acronyms are the quintessential example of insider language. If your name or brand needs an explanation it’s not clear enough.

Men on Fire: A Men’s Ministry at a church. The only problem is people outside of the church don’t think the same way or have the same filter as people inside the church. While “church people” notoriously talk about being “on fire” for Jesus, that brand may elude to something different in the minds of people outside of the church.

Chicks with Sticks: A Quilting Ministry in a church. Yes this is real. This one came from one of the participants from a recent Leadership Coaching Network that I led. It was too good not to include in this list. Let’s just say people outside of the church aren’t thinking the same things as people inside of the church when they see this ministry name.

Girlfriends Unlimited: A Women’s Ministry in a church. Again while this may be clear to people inside the church any single 20-something young man is going to sign up for this one in a heartbeat. What young man who doesn’t know Jesus doesn’t want to sign up for unlimited girlfriends?

XYZ: “Extra Years of Zest,” a ministry to Senior Adults. This is another example of an acronym that doesn’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t an insider.

Body Builders: A Bible Study at a church. It may seem cute but when an outsider sees that name they’re probably going to be asking you where the gym is.

MOPS: “Mothers of Preschoolers,” a ministry to mothers of preschoolers…or is it a cleaning ministry? Again…acronyms are dangerous.

Equally Yoked: A Marriage Ministry at a church…or an egg ministry. Outsiders have no idea what the scriptures say so be careful about using Biblical names like this.

JAM: “Jesus and Me,” the name of a Student Ministry at a church…cute…just not clear.


Posted in Leadership

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Early Warning Signs Your Church is in Trouble

Many churches have a tendency to measure attendance and money as their primary indicators for success, and not necessarily always in that order. There are a lot of other indicators that churches can measure to understand if they’re winning or not (baptisms, 1st time guests, and how many people are in bible studies just to name a few). Early indicators that a church is in trouble are often more difficult to detect however. Similar to the way many life threatening diseases behave a church can look healthy on the outside while wasting away on the inside. And like a life threatening disease it can be very difficult to detect. Here are a few early indicators your church should be paying attention to:

Fuzzy about the Future

Perhaps the single most life-threatening indicator that a church is in trouble is a lack of clarity. Clarity provides a church with the power to make decisions efficiently and align the organizational components of the church to move forward. If you don’t know where you’re going, and can’t state it clearly, you’ve got no chance to get there.

High Rate of Turnover

When a church has trouble keeping staff and volunteers, the church is in trouble. Turnover is not only an issue when it comes to the paid staff of the church but also the volunteers. When turnover becomes the norm there is a cultural problem at play.

Playing Defense

When a church becomes risk averse and starts making choices based on who they are going to keep as opposed to who they are going to reach, the church is in trouble. The real danger in playing defense is that it becomes a cultural mindset that actually stands in opposition to the Gospel. You see the Gospel was never meant to be or does it need to be defended it’s intended to be unleashed.

Inward Focus

When a church uses language that you have to be an educated Christian to understand, has a high giving-per-head ratio, is expecting nonbelievers to jump in on and participate in ministry programs that long-time believers participate in, have a poor guest experience and haven’t thought through way-finding…that church is in trouble. For more on being an insider focused church follow this link.

Think your church might be in trouble? The Unstuck Group can help! We help churches grow their impact through church consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy and action. Follow this link to learn more!


Posted in Leadership