By Mark A. Taylor
Tech expert Shelly Palmer, although sought-after about all things digital, would likely be lost at a church leadership conference. But he wrote something a couple of weeks ago to get any church leader thinking.
He titled his blog post, “Does Yahoo Have a Right to Exist in 2016?” And then he proceeded, with two pages of well-researched facts and well-thought opinions, to support his hard answer: “No.”
Whether you use the web portal Yahoo or not, his line of reasoning might get your attention. Should you ask his question about your own ministry, congregation, or parachurch?
Actually, he asks three questions, not just the one in his title:
What does Yahoo do better than any other company in the world? Palmer challenges his readers to “list the core areas of Yahoo that you would consider ‘best in the world’ at what they do.” He can’t name any.
What value does Yahoo create for its users, a value “so compelling that you owe your loyalty to Yahoo above any other vendor?”
Does Yahoo have a right to exist in 2016? Palmer’s “no” is not because Yahoo lacks talent or financial backing. “It will die for lack of vision,” he said. “More specifically, for lack of mission.” Here’s what he means:
It is very easy to understand the mission, vision and values of every successful company. “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Amazon seeks “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.” “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
“Yahoo is a guide focused on informing, connecting, and entertaining our users.” Being as kind as I can, Yahoo’s mission is to be either my browser bar or Google. Sadly for Yahoo, both of these jobs are occupied by much, much better alternative tools.
So, following Palmer’s lead, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask, “Does my ministry have a right to exist in 2016?”
Is your small group, missions ministry, or children’s department really “best in class”? What about your church’s website, youth ministry, preaching, or weekly worship?
Is your college or missionary work or publishing or event anywhere near “best in the world” at accomplishing its vision?
Does your ministry offer compelling value for those it touches? Have you spelled out a mission that defines the unique niche of influence your church or group or institution will own?
Yes, Yahoo is a business attracting customers, and our work for God is so much more. We’re not selling ourselves or competing on Wall Street; our goal is to serve with humility.
So ask yourself, “How are we serving?” Do those we touch know us for the excellence, quality, effectiveness, and compassion of our service? Do we seek to be the best in our world at touching lives, teaching the truth, and lifting up God?
This is not about better marketing or a glossier presentation. It’s about giving God’s work the most care and energy of anything we do.
That kind of attention is happening in many places. We report it regularly at this website and in the pages of CHRISTIAN STANDARD. But any ministry might do better if it asked itself a question something like what Shelly Palmer asked about Yahoo:
“Does this effort deserve to continue in 2016?”