Are you following “best practices” for online ministry?

February 4, 2010 — 1 Comment

Since many of you may be new to my blog and research, I wanted to make you aware of the “resources” section and some of the online ministry tools I have put there. The “resources” section is available both at my main site and my Facebook page.

One of my first projects in the area of online ministry was to seek an answer to the question: what makes online ministry successful? This led to the development of a research project to determine the “best practices” in online ministry.  From November 2007 to April 2008, over 300 ministries took a survey and reported on how they were doing Internet ministry. From the data collected, a series of “best practices” were developed matching ministries who reported success with their Internet presence with answers to the survey questions. I presented the results of this research at the Internet Ministry Conference in October 2008.

How did I determine “best practices”? In the survey, I asked each ministry a set of questions that correlated with “success”. A “success score” was developed for each ministry. I then asked a series of questions about their online ministry practices in the area of technology, people, and process (my “Internet Ministry Framework”).  By taking the ministries who score the highest in their “success score” together, I was able to find which practices they had in common and develop a set of “best practices”.  The twelve best practices that I can recommend for any online ministry are as follows:

  • The specific software you use is not as important as content. While a nice looking site is important, it is the content that provides the value to the users.
  • Use interactive content such as blogs, podcasts, and videos as much as possible.
  • Do not build new features yourself if you can integrate with existing sites that do the same thing. For example: put your videos on YouTube and integrate them into your site instead of hosting the videos yourself.
  • Install data collection code on your site and analyze it!
  • Recognize your limits – gets outside help if you need it!
  • Use volunteers wisely, sparingly.
  • Have a team responsible for setting direction.
  • Designate one person to be ultimately responsible for the site.
  • Planning may be the most important step in the implementation of an Internet
  • ministry.
  • Develop written goals and/or a mission statement to guide you. Refer to these as
  • you make decisions about features and technologies for your ministry.
  • Have a centralized approval process for site updating.
  • Allow for distributed updating of information that belongs to different parts of your ministry.

For full details on these best practice recommendations and more about the research project itself, download the report from the “Resources” section of either at my main site or my Facebook page. And while you’re there, take a look at the other resources available.

I am also looking to update these recommendations in the near future. If you have feedback or comments on these or other best practices, feel free to leave me a comment!


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Online ministry researcher and educator. Associate Professor and Director of Innovation for the Crowell School of Business at BIola University. Author of Ministry in the Digital Age.

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  1. Internet Evangelism Idea #19: Getting Started in Online Evangelism « Christian Web Trends Blog - April 28, 2010

    [...] a set of “best practices” for online ministry.  You can find the full report at my web site here. Though this research was directed at the use of the Internet by ministry organizations and [...]

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