Know Thy Audience

by Terry Wilhite

Knowing your target audience is rule number one in communications. Fortune 500 corporate communicators and marketers will tell you that they spend on average about 75 percent of their resources figuring out where to aim and only about 25 percent buying the bullets. In other words, understanding the target audience through market research outpaces communication two to one. 

My observation has been that in ministry we make a lot of assumptions about who is filling the pews that often lead to huge disconnects and sometimes needless pastor and staff misery or even turnover. Guy BonGiovanni, the developer of The Pastor's Toolkit says it doesn't have to be that way.

"The Scripture is clear. Proverbs 27:23 says, Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flock'—not to presume, not to guesstimate,' but to know." But how do you do that?

In my opinion, BonGiovanni has successfully parlayed his 50 years of ministry experience into a set of tools that can help pastors become better leaders, communicators, and ministers. Long-time readers will recognize The Pastor's Toolkit as a resource I've reviewed quite some time ago, but now there's Version 1.7, which I believe makes a good thing even better. Much of the tabulating that you had to do manually is now performed automatically. That can make a world of difference for pastors.

"If the pastor is living in a dilution of his true state of affairs, it can be quite terminal. I remember one pastor, a dear friend of mine, great guy, loved by his people, but deficient in some areas. What he didn't know was that his board members were about to request his resignation. There were deficiencies in working the church.' The church was dying on the vine but he was having a great time. The Pastor's Toolkit can help protect the pastor from this kind of thing."

BonGiovanni says a ministry friend introduced him to the term "working the church." "The friend said to me, Guy, you've got a wonderful group of pastors in your movement, but I don't see where they're working their churches"—meaning they weren't doing the things that help shore up weaknesses in ministering to their flocks.

"Most pastors are not working their churches, not because of any unwillingness, but many just don't have the tools to go about it. So I began collecting data and doing research. Once I retired from denominational work and started doing seminar work, I put together what finally has emerged as The Pastor's Toolkit," he says.

 The tools provided range from helping pastors determine gaps in age groups to doing an influence grid to see where the natural "power centers" are within the congregation. Tools are provided in four critical areas: The first category is Understanding Oneself. In that domain, he offers personality and spiritual gift profiles, along with a member satisfaction survey. The personality and spiritual gifts profiles are performed by clicking on a link on the CD which will take you to a Website that will compute the results.

In the second category, he provides tools that relate to purpose and direction. Included are grids that cover purposes for being and analyses of ministries, along with a tool that helps you develop a basic, annual ministries plan. The third area covered is Church Assessment. He supplies a population pyramid that allows a pastor to see in chart form the age demographics of his congregation. The fourth area is Ministry Planning. Several planning grids are provided, with directions on how to use them. A personnel finder and placement tool is also included.

Guy BonGiovanni says churches and pastors often fall into a rut, doing the same things the same way, every time the church doors are opened. For that he prescribes his boredom busters tool.

Users of Version 1.7 will find that the resource includes more than 100 pages of useful diagnostic tools. A video introduction helps one to know how to maneuver through the plethora of resources.  I found the entire CD to be very user-friendly and I recommend it for healthy relationships in the church, ministry growth, and greater pastor peace of mind. You can find out more at

I also invite you to tune in to an interview I conducted with the author that's on my Website.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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