I had the opportunity this weekend to spend time with three missionary families. Each of these families serve God in unique ways in different areas of the world. Each faces their own specific challenges and have adapted their ministry model to best fit the situation they are in.
One serves an impoverished inner-city where drugs and poverty have led to a corrupt crime-riddled culture. Divorce rates are very high and fathers have held very little accountability to their wives and children. Their mission approach is to focus on supporting men and women in small groups. By increasing accountability, they have seen a dramatic improvement in the families they minister to.
Another mission team servers an impoverished rural nation. They face many of the same cultural challenges (drugs, teenage pregnancies and split families). However, in their situation the families are often struggling to meet their minimum daily needs. These missionaries focus on meeting their most basic needs first, then teaching them the gospel.
The third team works in a domestic mission area where the people they minister to have become very disenfranchised by the church. They have a synical view of Christianity and the baggage that comes along with it. They are having to show them what authentic Christianity is all about.
What do these missionaries all have in common? They have come to the realization that mission work is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each have adapted their approach to meet the needs of the people they minister to. By meeting their specific needs, they are opening many more doors than if they followed a textbook method of mission work.
The lesson for us is that whatever your mission – whether work, church or any other organization – you need to adapt to the needs of those you are trying to reach. Whether that is customers or consituents, the old adage “adapt or die” rings true.
In the pre-social media web (pre web 2.0), it was easy for a business or organization to “oversell” themselves. I saw this from time-to-time. It’s easy to imagine how a business might do this. A website can be designed to make them seem very impressive. Testimonials from customers (whether real or otherwise) can make them sound fantastic. And product images can be air-brushed to look much better than the real item.
Another type of organization that I often saw overselling themselves was churches. Ironic, I guess, but it’s true. I know of a church that promoted its programs for young people, yet only had a handful of them in their actual membership. Once I was given several pictures to use in a collage photo on a website. One of the pictures was a handsome African-American man with a nice smile. I found out later that he was not a member of the church, but on the maintenance staff! In fact, the church did not have any African American members to speak of!!
The days of these types of tactics are hopefully on the decline. The advent of social media allows for a built-in correction mechanism on the web. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs allow people to share their impressions with their friends. There are also now sites like Angie’s list and Glassdoor that give unsolicited feedback on companies. Have you checked your company’s profile on Glassdoor? You should, it may give you some unexpected insight into your employee’s opinions.
One of the beauties of the social media phenomenon is that it brings a social conscience to the web. Hopefully, these tools are used for the overall public good, and helps us all find out what is truth, and what is not, in that big bad world of the Internet.
This video was produced for Westport Road Church of Christ’s capital campaign to raise money for a business expansion. I was involved with script writing, conducting interviews, editing raw footage and final production.