4 Leaders You Need for A Successful Digital Ministry

By Chestly Lunday

Regarding Digital Ministry, the "Who" is as important as the "Why" or the "What." So who needs to be on the team for churches to succeed in digital ministry? In this article, we will help you build your team by telling you about the four leaders you need for a successful digital ministry. 

One of my favorite movies is 2003's Italian Job. John Bridges is passing the "heist point-leader" torch to his protégé, Charlie Corker, and they pull off the most significant score they have ever attempted. However, the victory is short-lived as they are ambushed and double-crossed by their teammate, Steve, killing John in the catastrophe. So the rest of the movie is about pulling off the most challenging job they have ever undertaken: getting the gold back and avenging John's death in the process. This job is known as the Italian Job.

What I love about the movie is the uniquely diverse and gifted team Charlie serves with. They all have specific roles and complement each other with their style to accomplish the goal. 

In digital ministry, every church must have a similar team to succeed. Yet many churches usually stick the person who knows the most about computers in the digital ministry role, thinking that an IT person is the same as a digital ministry leader. This is a mistake. Furthermore, as digital platforms become more ubiquitous, churches won't have the luxury of passing the responsibility of digital ministry to a single person as "digital ministry" will become synonymous with "ministry."

No one wins alone. 

Successful digital ministries have four crucial leaders working together to accomplish the church's vision.

The 4 Leaders Every Successful Digital Ministry Needs

The Mover

As in every upstart endeavor, the church must have a person that leads the team in a direction and initiates the community towards an expected end. To do so takes foresight, takes tenacity, and takes people skills. I call them the Mover, and most often, the Mover is the Lead Pastor. If you are a Mover, you see the potential this ministry has for the future of your faith community, and you get passionate about moving people in that direction. Your job is to paint the picture and find the early adopters. You will need them to help catalyze this vision into a ministry the rest of the church can adopt as it matures.

The second thing Movers are responsible for is clearing the way. That's right; Movers run interference so the rest of the team can execute the strategy and see the vision through to fruition. Movers are most gifted in handling the obstacles that inevitably come the team's way. Movers are skilled at problem-solving and even have the ability to deal with the laggards that work to impede progress.

However, there are many times that the lead pastor is not a strategic thinker who rallies people toward a preferable future. So what do you do if you are a lead pastor who isn't gifted as a Mover? You find one and support them as they honor you and build the future.

In this phase of digital ministry, no one has all the answers for best practices or has the final product. We are beginning a shift, meaning experimentation and failure are necessary. Movers thrive in that space. Digital ministry in churches must have movers to be successful. Still, once you find something that works, movers must hand off the responsibility to lead in that area to a leader much more suited for consistent results over time: The Manager.

The Manager

Have you ever been around someone who is a machine at ensuring everything around them runs smoothly? If you have, you have met a Manager. As someone gifted primarily as a Mover, I am in awe of these people. They are organized and routine driven. They are detail-oriented and consistent. All things that, as a Mover, I am not. 

Managers make sure that success becomes a consistent habit. Where the Mover is about grit and determination to complete the task and find the answer, managers ensure that the team provides the solution consistently once they locate it. So often, Churches have leaders that are great managers, and they celebrate the consistency the Manager brings to the community. 

The truth is that a Mover without a Manager will create an emotional roller coaster for the community as they are experimenting, learning, and formulating the church's strategy for the future. A Manager without a Mover will consistently do what is in front of them with excellence— even if doing so will cause a swifter decline. Managers are gifted at the execution of strategic goals through tactical excellence. Still, they rarely have the risk profile to explore how an organization must change to be viable in the future. 

Managers make sure we do things right, while Movers make sure we do the right things. 

The Manager and the Mover create a dynamic duo allowing the church to have the entrepreneurial zeal that gives the team the capacity to create new expressions in a new digital world. In contrast, the Manager provides the community with the peace of mind knowing that once they find the correct answers, those answers will be consistently implemented so that the community feels cared for. But that isn't all! You need another role for digital ministry to win, and it's the role that most people in digital ministry intuitively understand: The Maker.

The Maker

How people make beautiful things with ones and zeros still boggles my mind. I know enough code to be dangerous, but some people have such an artist's touch when building digital collateral like websites, apps, funnels, etc. Usually, they find the most value out of making said things, not how you can utilize them to an end that creates value for the community.

Makers are the team's artists, and they are needed so that the team has a real ministry to bring to market. So often, communities make the mistake of putting the Maker in charge because they see the level of technical knowledge and their talent at creating masterpieces. They mistakenly surmise that this artistic ability (whether it be in graphic design, web design, or IT) is the ingredient that is needed to create a successful digital ministry.

Every team needs a Maker. When Makers are present, they create beauty and intrigue, and creativity abounds. Believe it or not, many IT personnel are makers. They can often look more "sciencey" than the "creative" hipster drinking flat whites and living in his momma's basement. The Maker is the craftsman, a hard-working, no-nonsense presence that can take a strategy and make the perfect tool to make the strategy work. Still, they often aren't great at knowing which strategy to pursue and often cringe at Movers using their inventions for things the Maker didn't imagine; this is why the Maker needs the other two.

Makers need Movers to find purpose in what they build and managers to ensure that the purpose is carried out successfully every time. But, there is one last team member that will make digital ministry a more likely win in your community: The Mixer.

The Mixer

When Movers talk, they are usually pie in the sky, idealistic people whom others have difficulty taking seriously. The Mover never establishes legitimacy with the community by themselves. They need another leader who understands the community's need for certainty and safety and the Mover's ability to catalyze needed change so that community won't stagnate and decline. The Mixer is the person who operates within the community to give a stamp of approval to the accomplishments of the rest of the team. Mixers invite support and participation in the new endeavor.

I believe the Mixer is necessary both internally and externally. It would help if you had a Mixer in your faith community and a Mixer in the community you are trying to reach. They interact with groups and have enough influence within the community for others to take seriously what the Mixer is saying. The Mixer possesses a stealth power that the rest of the team does not. It's called social capital. Movers must rely on the Mixer's social capital to experience the team's adoption into the Mixer's community. Jesus taught his disciples this concept as they were trained for the mission. He called them persons of peace.

For the community to accept digital ministry, you will need a Mixer to lead that adoption. If digital missions successfully make disciples, you need a Mixer to lead the way there!

So often, communities, churches, businesses, and organizations emphasize the "Hero" that accomplished success alone. Why? I don't know. The more realistic picture of success looks like a team with everyone playing their role. The Lone Ranger wasn't even alone— every successful mission needs a team.

Digital Ministry is no different.

As church leaders, especially Lead Pastors and board members, we must be aware of the types of leaders we need on the team. In these roles, our job is to grow the health and vitality of our churches— and that will mean building a team like this one. I think most pastors' role in digital ministry looks much more like the exuberant passing of the torch from John to Charlie, which doesn't mean you need to walk away. John was still a part of the heist. He just created a new hero along the way!

Just like Charlie's team in the Italian job, digital ministry teams will be unique and maybe even look a little weird. Still, if you follow the 4 Ms template for building your team, your chances of success will rise exponentially!

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