Since I’ve been writing about niche ministry as part of the “Big Idea” series, I want to include one tip that comes at this issue from a slightly different angle. It’s a helpful tool for brainstorming what possible niches your ministry might serve in. It’s one simple question:
What’s something that only our ministry can do?
Your brainstorming based on this question can take one of two different paths.
The first path is brainstorming what only your type of ministry can do. In other words, use the advantages you’ve got from simply being a ______________________ ministry. Are you a denominational ministry? Parachurch? Church-based? Chaplain at a Christian college? Student-run ministry? There are certain “peculiarities” to any of those ministry types. And I think it’s kind of sad that so many of our ministries still look kinda the same, when they could really make use of some things only their type of ministry can accomplish.
This will take creativity, but that’s why I’m providing a springboard: What can only your type of ministry do? Is there some new form of ministry – or niche – that corresponds with that ability?
The second path is brainstorming what only your specific ministry can do. In other words, use the uniqueness your particular ministry has: in people, financing, facilities, reputation, creativity, numbers, lack of numbers… WHATEVER sets you apart in any little (or big) way. Use it! Milk it!
As you think about your people, think about their skills, know-how, reputation, campus involvement, church involvement, personality, age, and anything else that could possibly set your group apart. If you’ve got a bunch of gamers… cheerleaders… freshmen… guitar players… techies… Trekkies… why not brainstorm connecting that provision – yep, it’s a provision – with how you do ministry?
I have a friend ministering at a church that locals semi-jokingly call, “Six Flags Over Jesus” (because the church has a lot of money and holds lots of special events). But my buddy’s response is pretty measured: “Alright,” he says, “If that’s who we are, then that’s who we’re going to be.” What he means is that since God happens to have given them some budget money, they’re going to use it to the best of their ability – and not be ashamed of that fact.
The truth is most college ministries have something that is / can be / should be an advantage. Why not brainstorm how you could use that in a special sort of way… to reach people in a special sort of way? I don’t mean your ministry has to be super-strange or “go niche.” But it’s at least worth thinking through, right?