If Your Ministry Were As Important As Running A Small Business

Rico is the savvy, successful manager of our local health club.

I asked him what he would say to Young Adult Pastors since these are his clientele at the gym.  Rico said, “You need to see everyone you meet as a perspective client.”

“When people step foot on your property no matter who they are, you are their new best friend. You can’t be so busy about setting up and doing other things. When they are there, they are not your first priority they’re your ONLY PRIORITY!”

Rico outlined for me 6 other ideas from his gym that could revolutionize how we do ministry.

  1. Always Promote because NO ONE IS LOOKING FOR YOU!

What I would ask a youth pastor is “Are you ashamed of your ministry?” I do this for money and I hope that people get healthier so my business is painted on my car, the clothes I wear, a sign outside my house, on my face book, twitter, Instagram, linked in, and everywhere I go I give out my business cards. –That includes my sports clubs, my bank, Costco, the senior’s home I volunteer at, and Toastmasters.

“But most of the guys and gals doing this stuff are afraid to offend people,” I objected. “Are you nuts?” If I operated that way I wouldn’t have any clients! They may think that I am talking to them because I think that they’re out of shape, but I take that risk. For every 20 people I talk to, 2 of them show some interest and one of them will take me up on a free trial. I believe in my product –don’t they believe in theirs?…

2.  Be Where They Are

I’m also part of some sports clubs because these people are looking to be healthier. You tell me they work with 20 somethings? Do they hang out with them outside of the church or do they just sit in a church building waiting for them to come to them? How often are they open anyway? What are they offering them any other times?

You says that  some churches have 60 twenty somethings sitting there on Sundays and another 100 on paper in their records? How many times have they personally contacted each one of these people? How many of them have they given a personal invitation to attend their group? If they aren’t doing this, what the heck are they spending your time doing?  They need to think through every way possible of getting in contact with this very targeted audience.

3. People Stay if they Make Connections

I see part of my job as connecting people not just with me but with each other. I create a friendly atmosphere where people with common interest can make small talk with other people at my gym. Sometimes I introduce them to each other.

A big deal for me is people renewing their membership each year and if people haven’t made a friend or don’t feel connected to anyone, there’s not much chance that they’re going to stick around –Everybody is offering similar stuff to what I do –I have to provide connections –people have to feel socially comfortable or they won’t even use the equipment –even thought they are paying for it!

4. Make it THEIR Place

This is what I would want to ask these Pastors: “How have you made your place their place?” My clients are always calling my gym “their gym” They have a fob and can get in at any time of the day. They know that they are always welcome whether I’m there or not. They take pride in using the free guest passes I give them and inviting their friends in. When they do, I make friends with their friends. In my head I know that soon they will be calling this place “their gym!”

Do you guys do any of this stuff to turn over ownership to your people?

What are you doing to make your place THEIR place?

5. Coach If They Ask for it

This demographic hates unsolicited advice! They hate being told what to do and they really dislike know-it-all’s. At the same time they love it when they get stuck and you can give them a tip that works for you. Sometimes I work out alongside them and they ask me for some pointers. A few of them want me to be their personal trainer but I normally direct them to one of my staff for that.

What about the pastors you are working with? Are they know-it-all’s who preach at young professionals like they don’t know a d**n thing or do they coach them to get them to the next level? I wonder if some of these people need a personal trainer for the spiritual stuff you are helping them with? Do you guys do that?

6. Make Cold Calls and Call Backs

Another thing I would want to say to them is, Everyone hates cold calls but what if you believed that what you have is what they need and that one out of every 20 people would try out your group? Have they even tried this? It’s not a waste of time and you get over the jitters easily. –Most of the time the call will go through to voice mail. No problem. At least they know that you have something available when they want it.

And, if anyone ever contacts me I am on that in a heartbeat. I want them to know that they are my priority. Every inquiry matters to me!

If their people matter to them then  they need to  quit talking to other people in their building and get back to their members immediately. How they use their hours is a clear sign whether they will get new members and their members will stay.

Bottom Line

The way I see it, if this is your job you give it your best shot. You don’t come in late, take long lunches or yak it up with the people you work with. In my case I want to be a success. This is my career and I want to be able to say at the end of the day that I was focused, disciplined and did everything I could to build this business. If your people give it everything they’ve got they will build up their clientele and stop losing members.

What do you think?

Maybe Rico didn’t quite get the work that Young Adult Pastors do but I wonder if we went at it the way he does 6 days a week things might be going different at a lot of groups that are struggling? Love to hear your thoughts –Please leave a comment.

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com