To rephrase Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “If two ministries do exactly the same thing for the same people group, one of them is unnecessary.” This principle applies to businesses as well. Businesses that fail to differentiate themselves drown in oceans of competition. Ministries that fail to differentiate themselves drown in oceans of uselessness.
4 Questions We Must Ask
1. Who do we want to reach?
In order to differentiate, ministries and churches must do at least one thing for at least one people group that no one else is doing for that group. This is true in America and abroad. What types of people and groups is your church or ministry trying to reach? We can seek to reach many different types of people, but we must always carefully consider how to reach each specific group, and even each individual person in the best way possible. Every group is different, and every person is different. We teach everyone the same truth, but the way we love, evangelize, and disciple each person and group should be unique based on their needs, maturity, and ways of thinking.
2. What can we do that is unique?
Once we’ve figured out who we want to reach, we have to figure what we can do for them that is unique. If we can’t do anything new in their lives, what is the point of reaching out to them? It doesn’t make any sense to start a soup kitchen to serve dinner in an area where everyone happily eats dinner every night at the soup kitchen across the street. This seems obvious, but ministries and churches do often fail to differentiate themselves. We offer people the exact same things that they are receiving elsewhere, and we wonder why we don’t see life change. How can we change lives if we don’t bring something new into those lives?
3. Where is the greatest need?
Among the unreached, there are limitless opportunities to bring the gospel into their lives in unique ways because there is virtually no ministry being done among them. The potential for life change is huge. The world would be a drastically different place if Christians worked together to disperse and bring the gospel to the places of most desperate need. Some groups are doing this, but what if every Christian thought in terms of doing ministry among those who needed it the most?
4. Are we willing to be unpopular?
The premise of this article is that you have to do something unique to make the biggest impact for Christ. But being unique means that you will always be going against the crowd. To do something that no one else is doing means thinking differently than how most people think. At best, the crowd thinks unique ideas are strange and impractical. At worst, unique ideas are labeled as satanic and destructive. Sometimes the crowd is right. Some unique ideas are terrible. But some unique ideas have the potential to transform the world for Christ. Those who wish to bring that potential into fruition must be willing to go against the crowd.
This is why most great heroes of the faith were viewed as rebels at some point and hated by their own people. They thought differently than the people around them in very significant ways. Their unique thoughts are what made them great because they impacted their communities in ways that no one else did, but their unique thoughts also brought them fierce opposition. Moses, David, Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther, William Carey, and so many more went against the crowd to do something great that no one else was doing. It’s what made them hated, but it’s also what made them heroes. It’s no different today. The need of the hour is the same as it has always been: to impact people’s lives for Jesus in a way that no one else is.