How to Be a Leader Who Creates a Thriving Digital Discipleship Ministry in Your Organisation

If you’re thinking about setting up a digital discipleship ministry in your church or organisation, you should consider the skills and mindset you need to have as a leader to ensure the ministry thrives and attracts the necessary people to make it successful.

In this article, we’ve outlined 11 characteristics of successful leaders who create ministries that promote innovation, empower leaders and provide strategy and vision.

1. Adopt holistic and mission-minded thinking

Digital discipleship ministries are holistic in nature because they stretch across the organisation and require skills from many of your organisation’s traditional departments. Some of the necessary skills come from departments like:

  • Communications
  • Marketing
  • IT
  • Personal Ministries
  • Stewardship
  • Local Church Ministries and
  • Youth, Family and Children’s Ministries

Because of this, it’s important to adopt thinking that is holistic and mission-minded.

Photo by Patrick Perkins

When establishing a digital discipleship ministry, you should think about removing the silos that have traditionally been set-up within your organisation. And while you’re removing the silos, remove ego and self and turn your focus to the mission of the ministry.

When it comes to your digital discipleship ministry, one of the best ways to adopt this holistic and mission-minded thinking is to revisit your strategy document.

In fact, this leads us to our next point that’s essential for leaders to know and understand about digital discipleship at the corporate level.

2. Understand your “WHY”

One of the most important things for you as a leader is to understand your “why”. More broadly, why does your organisation exist and more specifically why do you want to incorporate digital strategies into your organisation or setup a digital discipleship ministry?

In order to answer this question, you should understand the audience you’re trying to serve. Understand their needs, their fears, their anxieties and their hopes and dreams.

  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What do they want to achieve?
  • How can your ministry help them to achieve those things?
Photo by Nathan Dumlao

3. Provide vision and strategy

The digital space is full of distractions, vanity metrics and novel innovations so without clear direction, your organisation could get sidetracked and swept into a futile exercise without a clear direction.

According to Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Your team looks to you to understand the direction your organisation is going.

In order for digital discipleship to work effectively in your organisation, there needs to be a clearly articulated vision and strategy.

The best way to find direction for your digital strategy is to review the organisation’s mission statement and strategy. Understand how a digital strategy will help you fulfil the objectives of your organisation’s mission and strategy.

Use every opportunity, from team meetings to the decorations on the wall, to articulate the vision to the organisation and help employees carry it out.

4. Use digital as a tool, don’t let digital use you

Digital can present itself like a shiny new toy. It’s easy to get caught up in every trend and feel tempted to get on every social media platform. However, if you understand your “why”, have a clearly articulated mission and vision, have clearly stated problems and a clear group of people you’re trying to serve, you’ll find it’s easier to use digital as a tool instead of letting digital use you.

One way to understand if you’re using digital or digital is using you is to make a list at the end of the year to see what you’ve accomplished in relation to digital discipleship. If the majority of the list includes the equipment you’ve bought and the platforms you’ve set up but not the people you’ve served, you can remind yourself to use digital and not to let digital use you.

5. Invest in continuous training

The digital space is always changing — algorithms change, platforms change and people change. In order to have an organisation and a team that’s prepared to be responsive to these changes, you must invest in continuous training.

As it relates to your team, training is a way to communicate to your staff that you value them and their continuous growth. Sometimes, quality employees will opt to stay at a company for less pay that offers greater learning and growth opportunities.

As you think about training from the perspective of the organisation, training is a way to ensure that your organisation stays at the forefront of what’s happening in your industry so in a sense, continuous training is a form of preservation and relevance.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov

6. Invest in your educational system

Just as you want to invest in your internal training programs, you also want to ensure that any educational systems that feed into your organisation are also strong and sound.

Just as the National Basketball Association (NBA) has the NBA G League, or a minor league basketball organisation, your organisation should also have a developmental program.

Consider any associated educational institutions in your network – elementary, middle, high schools and universities. How is your organisation investing in them to ensure they are producing quality students who might potentially work in your organisation.

Investing in your educational system, or any feeder program you have, will create a positive association for the students with your church, ministry or corporate entity. Having an organisation that’s appealing to potential employees is key to creating an place that’s innovative and relevant in the years to come.

7. Be humble enough to admit when you don’t know

Inevitably you will not know the answer to everything, especially with the rapid rate the world is changing and the adoption of technology. Have the humility to tell your team when you don’t know because realistically speaking, your team is looking to you for vision and strategy not to have all the answers.

When you’ve admitted to your team and to yourself that you are not omniscient, you will have the ability to listen to their ideas and to continue to learn. Also, your team will grow to respect you even more for your honesty and your willingness to learn.

8. Have clearly stated problems and understand the needs of the people you’re serving

As a leader, you don’t need all the answers, but you do need to understand the question. What problems are you trying to address as an organisation? What are the needs of the people you’re serving? Having an understanding of this provides a foundation for your team.

You can create an innovative work environment by creating the boundaries of clearly stated problems that need to be solved.

This will help you and your team sift through all the ideas you will encounter to search for the best solutions.

9. Focus on Positioning

Success in the digital space is about positioning.

Positioning can come in the form of

  • Identifying the keywords you want to rank for
  • Recognising the audience you want to be in front of
  • Understanding the brand you want to build

If you focus on positioning as a leader, your team can focus on execution.

10. Create an organisation that’s agile and responsive

Your ministries in the digital space need to be agile and responsive. As we talked about earlier, the world is rapidly changing, so our solutions need to be responsive to needs. It’s understandable that a large, well-established organisation won’t be as nimble as a start-up, however, you should create mechanisms for your organisation to be responsive.

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin

11. Provide the space for others to lead

If you’re thinking about setting up a digital discipleship ministry in your church or organisation, one of the key characteristics you should have is the ability to give others the space to lead and grow in their leadership. This will ensure the longevity of the ministries you are creating and will create space for others to grow into the leaders God has created them to be.

How to Create a Culture of Innovation in Your Organisation

  • Understand how to encourage your team to think of new ideas in an ever-changing world
  • Understand your role as a leader in making your organisation nurturing to new ideas
  • Identify opportunities to get the best out of your teams and volunteers as they respond to new challenges and the pressure to innovate