What is Digital Strategies?
We are a missionary movement that is committed to going where people are. God has called us to help fulfill the Great Commission. Digital Strategies is about leveraging ‘all things digital’* to help us get to our mission. (*1 Corinthians 9:22)
We engage people who are unaware or curious about God in their journey toward Jesus, by offering them personalized online experiences toward becoming multiplying disciples.
We empower like-minded followers of Jesus with trusted tools and strategies that help them leverage digital media for ministry.
Refer to our GDS Vision Map for a fuller picture.
Why Digital Strategies now?
Now, more than ever, we cannot engage in missions without thinking about how we expose, engage and connect with people online. The audiences we are trying to reach and help grow are online. If we do not grow in our ability to meet and engage our audiences in this space, we will not be able to accomplish our calling of building movements everywhere. We are called to fulfill the Great Commission. We go where people are.
"Online is the world's biggest campus." ~ SLM staff in France
What prerequisites do I need to know or skills do I need to have?
The most important prerequisite is a willingness to learn, to try new things, and to grow. Digital changes quickly, so a willingness to learn and adapt is far more important than a specific technology or toolset.
What should I do first when I start in DS?
Discern with your leader the goals you are desiring to accomplish.
Understand the audience you are trying to reach.
Raise up a team of staff or volunteers.
Start on The Basics course on Digital Academy. It will guide you through the process of getting started with DS.
Where do I find more resources to help me?
Take time to explore Digital Academy!
Connect with our extended global GDS network, that shares ideas and best practices on DS, the following ways:
Who do I need on the team to succeed in DS?
Your team depends on what goals you desire to accomplish. You will likely need a clear Content Strategy (see The Basics course), and people who have the right skills to help develop content. Some key roles to consider: Content Creators (writers, designers etc.) Social Media Manager, Strategists (planning and executing).
Many would probably start without a full team. You can consider recruiting part-time help from other staff within the ministry, as well as volunteers.
If you need a sample job description for what some of these roles could look like, please reach out to us on the Global Digital Strategies Workplace group.
What are the advantages or disadvantages to having a digital champion vs. having a digital team?
Essentially, what you get out of digital strategies depends on what you put into it. Having a dedicated team allows you to get work on a coordinated and impactful digital strategy for your overall ministry. Digital champions are important too, as they help represent the push for DS in their unique contexts and bring relevant field experiences that help shape your strategy. However, they typically wear many other hats and cannot commit towards sustained implementation, which is needed for some plans.
How do I help my team leader/national/area director understand the value of DS and how it can serve the national goals?
Take time to walk through the GDS Vision Map with your leader. Learn about their ‘care-abouts’ (what’s important to them) and discern some goals that DS can contribute to.
Using relevant data points and analytics, show that staff resources are not currently sufficient to reach the scope of your country. Seeing the possibilities for digital to help bridge this gap is critical in envisioning your leadership. If you want to learn more about how to use analytics for leadership conversations, be sure to go to the Analytics section within the Marketing and Growth Stack section of this site.
In most countries, for example, there are likely already audiences who are interacting with our content, especially on everystudent.com. Seeing these analytics will also help envision our leaders. There is a great opportunity to journey with these real people who are already coming to our sites.
Your Area DS Leader can also be a strong voice to help paint a picture for allocating staff and resources toward Digital Strategies.
What are some of the common hurdles digital strategists experience? How would you overcome them?
One key hurdle is in leading change. People resist change, and Digital Strategies calls us to do things differently (the need for new wineskins). We need to cast a compelling vision and offer some tangible pathways towards that change. Leaders also want to experience results that matter to them. Help them see how DS contributes to our shared vision and mission.
Digital ministry can be quite complex and it takes time for us to learn and understand. Make sure you put in the hard work to "learn the business" just as you had to do to learn the ministry you're currently (or were previously) serving in. You will need an understanding how all the pieces fit together, and how to leverage the relevant tools and resources available to you. This will take time, and that's ok!
How is Digital Strategies different from Operations, IT, or Communications?
Operations, IT or Communications serve the corporate needs of our organization, to be effective for the mission.
Communications and Digital Strategies are both outward-facing, but Communications tends towards representing the organization to our partners and donors.
Digital Strategies is audience-centered, concerned about serving the needs of our ‘users’ (who are on a spiritual journey) and helping them take the next step in their faith journey.
Good understanding and coordination amongst these functions is critical towards the success of our ministry. Like we often say in DS, "People don’t care how you’re organized; they only care that you are organized."
What is the ‘Growth Stack’? How does it help me?
The Growth Stack refers to a suite of enterprise-level tools that are made available to all our DS teams and members. Each of these tools help you carry out a different aspect of your strategy to better engage with your audience. We have dedicated an entire section of this site toward these tools, so be sure to check out the Marketing and Growth Stack Center on Digital Academy.
Is DS really effective? Where can I find stories of impact to share with my leaders?
Yes, digital strategies is effective! Behind every screen is a real person, with a real story. We are getting to engage with people in every country on earth and see real lives changed by Jesus. Digital strategies are also being deployed currently in every strategy MCC (SLM, GCM, LeaderImpact). To hear more stories to share with others, go to our GDS Workplace Group and/or subscribe to our monthly Digital Download update.
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