MinistryCOM 2010: Lessons from a Newbie

MinistryCOM 2010: Lessons from a Newbie

October 27, 2010 by

After overcoming a lifelong drug addiction, I came to God and started a church with my wife. It’s called the River City Recovery Ministries in Cambridge, Minn., and includes a church called The Fish House and homes for recovering addicts. I currently serve as the senior pastor and executive director. We do a lot of ministry to addicts and their families and saw 400% growth during the first year.

Over the years, I have learned how to preach, teach and lead people out of their issues, but I was not prepared to effectively communicate the message of what we do to the community and the people we serve. Over the past six years the ministry has been “playing catch up” and we were missing the mark on how to get the message out. I had no idea who to turn to for help, but that all changed about a month ago when I filled out a scholarship application for a conference called MinistryCOM.

At first, I thought nothing of it, but when I was selected to receive the scholarship I was overjoyed.  I felt like a bush-league baseball player being sent to spring training to learn the craft from the professionals.  I was expecting to gain maybe one thing, but I was not prepared to receive as much as I did.

I walked away from the MinistryCOM conference empowered, encouraged and a now better communicator, who has the tools and contacts to make a difference in the way we present the message graphically, visually and effectively to the people we serve and the community.

Here are just a few highlights:

Keynote Speakers
Each one of the speakers presented a message that dealt with many different  aspects of church communications, between leaders, members and the community. The one keynote speaker that really hit home was Pastor Jim Johnson, senior pastor of Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, Texas, who brought us a message about the importance of connecting with a the culture in a way that does not offend. He said that “Paul critiqued the culture, not to condemn, but to connect with it.” He went on to say that we need to understand the culture so the church can communicate to the community in a powerful way. He said that the best way to understand and connect is to find three types of people:

  • A Culture Champion: Someone who knows what is going on in the culture.
  • A Social Media Champion: Someone who is really going to get right in the middle of social media, like Twitter and Facebook.
  • A Message Champion: Someone to be your communications director.

The Breakout Sessions
The breakout session were amazing, and I walked out each session with more than I walked in with. We were given information, resources and tools that can be used right away. We were taught  how to prioritize communication so it is unified, effective and cost saving.  The most amazing thing is that not one person sold anything, they gave it all away.

One speaker in particular, James Dalman of the Branding Shed, gave me enough tools to save our ministry over $1,500 per year in Internet communications costs alone.  Dalman suggested we use WordPress to cut costs because it’s free, powerful, easy to use and easy to learn.

Game Changer
When I got on the plane to head home I was armed with so many useful tools and contacts that I know in just a few months The Fish House will be communicating a message that will have a far reaching impact. I also met someone who is going to donate their services to help bring all of this together for our ministry.

A 2011 conference hasn’t been announced yet, but if it is anyone who feels they are lacking in the area communication would greatly benefit from attending. The leaders and presenters need be congratulated on how professional they presented and treated us.  They rocked God’s flock.

Post By:

Howard McCray

Howard McCray is the founding pastor/director of River City Recovery Ministries. They are committed to penetrating the recovery community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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4 Responses to “MinistryCOM 2010: Lessons from a Newbie”

  • Tony Tong
    October 27, 2010

    I have been attending services at The Fish House since summer of 2007, and have seen much of the growth Pastor Howard has referred to; both the spiritual growth in the community and growth in the numbers of families that have been ministered to. My family is one of those who were lucky enough to hear the calling of our Lord coming from that little church in downtown Cambridge, Mn.

    Since hearing the call, I have been ushered into a new and more honest relationship with God. Pastor Howard, his family, and the men and women in River City Recovery Ministries have graciously helped me through this rehabilitation. They have helped me understand the blessings God has given, and they have inspired me to keep improving myself. Together we celebrated my graduation from our local community college last May; getting my AA degree was as much of a win for River City Recovery Ministries as it was for me.

    Pastor Howard has many times referred to the churches goals of reaching out to the addicts and rebuilding family relationships in the recovery community. To see this man of God and his wife, Jill give so much of themselves to a town that has only been their home for six or so years, and to see the doctrine of The Fish House at work in person has been a great thrill.

    Pastor Howard has so far only shared a small amount of the information that he received about MinistryCOM. From what he has said, it looks to be an exciting future for The Fish House. It is so important to get the word out to everyone that recovery is happening here, and our Lord is extending his hand through people like Howard and Jill to take back His people.

    Thank you for helping spread the Word.

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  • James Dalman
    October 27, 2010


    It was awesome to meet you and hear your story. I am so excited about how God is using you to build Fish House and in reaching the same people on my heart (the old me). Thanks for the kind words and I look forward to helping any way I can!


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  • Our small Community Church has a web site inviting folks that have been hurt in churches… they arrive wondering if this is true.. Are they with THEIR problems really welcome? Yes, they are! Wherever they are on their Life’s Journey.. some of us probably are as well. They are welcomed, accepted and loved. No judgements from us. Just community & fellowship with open arms…

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  • Scott
    November 15, 2010

    A great, quick read here, Howard. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    During my comparatively brief journey in the website-side of our church’s ministry, I’ve been able to apply a few basics – some of which it sounds like were included in that “toolbox” you mentioned receiving at the conference – and wanted to offer them here.
    A Different Kind Of Sinning” addresses some very basic and very simple things we can all do to help stay on track with out online outreach.

    Your particular mention of the value of WordPress as an effective way to power our websites and related support services is a big deal to me. WordPress is absolutely the way to go for small business and for church websites.

    I’m looking forward to returning here to see what else you are able to share.


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