First Things First (Don’t Promote Your Ministry Before You’re Ready)

First Things First (don't promote your ministry before you're ready)

When Snapple created a new line of ice pops in 2005, they wanted to get the word out. And they thought big!

They decided they would try to break the Guinness World Record for the largest ice pop.

They moved 20 tons of their frozen kiwi-strawberry ice pop mix into New York City for the big event. The plan called for the popsicle to stand 25 feet high. It was going to be huge!

But there was one thing they didn’t count on. It was June 21st, and it was a very warm day. Temperatures were in the mid-80s.

Before they could finish making the giant ice pop, it started to melt. It wasn’t long before the streets of Manhattan were filled with 20 tons of melted popsicle goo!

Snapple Publicity Stunt Gone Wrong

That publicity stunt went down as one of the worst in American history.

Let’s buy a billboard!

I worked at church that talked about easing space on a billboard on the interstate. I thought that was a bad idea, so I asked a simple question in a staff meeting: “If people see that sign and decide to show up, based on what our church is currently doing, do you think they’ll want to come back?”

The answer was a definite “no.”

That’s why Promotion is the last of the 5 P’s that I talk about. You can have the best, most creative promotional ideas, but if your place isn’t attractive, and your programs aren’t engaging, and if your preaching isn’t helpful, and if your volunteers aren’t all-in, then marketing won’t help you.

Start with the holes in the wall.

A church recently hired me to come and evaluate their services. They had plenty to work on. But what stuck out to me the most was this…

Holes in the wall at church

They had a stack of invite cards In the bathroom, right next to the giant holes in the wall where a soap dispenser used to be.

I like the idea of invite cards. That’s a good thing. But they’re putting the cart before the horse.

Before they ask everyone to invite all of their friends, they should get their place in order and create an environment where people who show up for the first time will want to come back a second time.

Again, promoting your ministry is the final step of the process. Before you tell your students to invite their friends, make sure that your place, programs, preaching, and people are up to par.

Your Move

The students in your church (and your town) deserve to experience a better youth ministry. Work the steps in the right order.

• Design a place that is appealing to students.
• Preach in way that is helpful for students.
• Create programs that are engaging for students.
• Find people who are passionate about students.
• Get the word out in ways that are relevant to students.

You can do this! Just take one step at a time.

Suggested Resource:

cover for Building a Better Youth Ministry

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Trevor Hamaker (DMin, McAfee School of Theology) is an author, adjunct professor, and youth ministry coach. He helps youth pastors see their potential, develop their skills, and reach their goals.

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