With all the criticism about megachurches and their pastors, you can miss the business lessons lurking beneath the surface of their success. The trick is not to get too enamored with the personal stories of prosperity or the sensational headlines. Some of which are not true. Beyond the hype and sensationalism are business models that you can learn from.
It is not enough to know that TD Jakes came from pastoring a 10-person, storefront church heated by a pot-belly stove to build an empire in another city boasting of over 14,000 members. You must know that he started by following a calling to develop a curriculum. A curriculum—a set of lessons responding to what he saw as his ability to present and his congregation’s need. Note that it did not matter whether the 10 members needed the curriculum. He understood that the congregation he had the capacity to lead needed the curriculum.
He developed that curriculum with as many people as would come, but also with the confidence that the message would draw those that needed to hear it. He could not worry about the number of people that followed him at that point. This was his period of development—that time to hone the message, and the process, and the mechanism to the point that it could be launched. It was that original curriculum, that initial production of content, that propelled him forward. By the time he had gained national prominence, he had packaged and repackaged that curriculum in several ways. Indeed, his annual women’s conference still bears the name of that original curriculum: “Women Thou Art Loosed.”
The lesson for you is about developing your content. The business model begins with two simple steps. First, decide what you want or the calling that you will respond to. Discern not just the metaphysical calling, but the specific calling that you respond to in answers to questions asked by your friends and acquaintances. What is that thing that you are always called upon to do?
Second, set about developing your curriculum or your content with the discipline it deserves regardless of who responds. Write your blogs, lessons, and book. Record your podcasts, videos, and training. As you create content, you will hone your message. You will become a better writer as you write. You will become a better speaker as you make presentations. The content is the key.
Mechanisms and Audience
Recognize that it is not important that your audience responds right away in some demonstrative or lucrative fashion. It is only important that you identify the audience that fits your message. The model is content, audience, and vehicle. Content is the content that you develop. Audience are the people that you expect to respond or those that you will deliver the message to. Vehicle is the opportunity you have through identified mechanisms for disseminating your message.
Laying Out the Process
- Clarify the Message
- Develop through Sharing
- Work the Process of Revision
- Articulate the Mechanism of Dissemination
- Articulate the Mechanism of Cost
- Launch the Business
- Diversify the Media
- Nurture the Market at Multiple Levels (Social Engagement)