mid-summer mobilization #1: only strategy is strategic

This week, I’ll be looking at something I get to think about every day: how ministries mobilize their members. While I specifically focus on getting church members involved in serving in the community (and the world), the approaches and theories are easily applied to college ministry. So this week, I apply them!

First, let’s define what I mean by mobilization: Increased involvement. That’s it. I mean getting students who darken your door more involved, or even simply involved in something. It’s “recruitment” for those who are already showing up – recruitment to something else, whether that’s a small group or a service project or student leadership or even simply showing up again.

Second, there’s one principle that’s vital if you’re going to care about what I write this week. It’s more-than-hinted-at in the title of this post, in fact:

Our mobilization of students can only be called “strategic” if we purposefully use an explicit strategy.

In the ministry world, I think we’re bigger fans of calling our work “strategic” than actually employing strategy.

Strategy implies that we are sitting down, far outside the hustle and bustle of activities, to develop plans. We pray through these plans, we share them with others, we tweak them, and we tweak them again. It’s a process. Often a lengthy process. But in the end, we come up with plans for getting students from Point A to Point B. Or Point B to Point C, as the case may be.

These plans are specific, based on specific purposes. We actually write down a list of what we want people to do as a result of our actions. We have this list of purposes in front of us as we’re developing the plans (not the other way around). The plans must work toward the purposes, or they’re not strategic.

Then we march, via those specific plans, toward those specific purposes. That’s the idea of strategy.

And I have to preach these reminders to myself all the time. It’s easy to do plans before purposes, and it’s easy just to “run plays” and call them strategic. They’re not… unless they involve actual strategy.

We’ll be talking about mobilization strategies this week.

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