True confessions time:
When I wrote the cookie book with Amy Karjala and Rebekah Farquhar, we decided to build the story around a small, local youth ministry because I felt that local ministries would have a much harder time thinking up Participation/Engagement/Ownership opportunities to utilize in coaching their champions in contrast to international ministries!
Having co-founded an international ministry with my wife, and having spent no small portion of my development consulting hours collaborating with international ministries, it had become second-nature for me to think of international ministries as having a distinct P/E/O advantage, since international ministries have a far more exotic palette with which to paint.
Now, however, one of the most popular questions I receive by email or when I teach comes from individuals working an international ministries, who say to me, “I see how P/E/O can work for a local ministry, but our champions are spread all over the country, and our work is on the other side of the world. I don’t see how P/E/O can work for us.”
I think I should have written the kimchi book instead of the cookie book!
In any case, if you’re looking for a real-life example of how a small international organization creates long-distance involvement opportunities for its champions, check out the website of charity:water.
They’re a secular organization, but most everything they do would port over with little difficulty to a Christian ministry.
I’m not wild about the “a-thon” approach that crops up here and there on the site (“From birthday parties to school-wide events, jog-a-thons to getting the Dean of Students to shave his head, throwing an event or party can be one of the best ways to help raise awareness and funds in your school community”), but the cause-oriented downloadable PDF for students to use in their schools is a nice touch. So are the banners and the Twitter backgrounds which champions can use in their own sphere of influence (instead of your organization setting up its own Twitter account and trying to build a sphere of Twitterfluence).
By far my favorite elements of the site are the stories from the field (written, note, not by staff members but by owners of the cause) and the Google Earth images. Google Earth is a fascinating tool for international ministries to prayerfully contemplate incoporating into their champion development efforts.
Finally, there’s a great statement of the cause–and it’s pure cause. It’s not organizational needs. It’s not “our vision”. It’s a statement that can be understood completely with reference to itself…rather than with reference to the organization in question. Christian ministries would do well to emulate the form, especially since more than a few ministries I run across have an exceedingly difficult time distinguishing the cause from their organization. (I just read a piece from a ministry, in fact, that defined the cause as supporting their organization!)
Finally, be sure to check out charity:water’s events page, which is a veritable catalog of ways owner-level champions can recruit new participants to a cause. Exceedingly well done…and engaging from any distance.