T'Mil Curtis is a skilled navigator, entrepreneur, and music industry executive with a diverse set of talents. Despite facing significant obstacles, she has managed to achieve great success. In her latest book, "Church Growth Through Digital Ministry," she expertly combines her understanding of the digital world, faith-based industry, and marketing to provide a practical guide for pastors and ministries looking to use the digital space to enhance church growth.
T'Mil has achieved great success in her career. She has built a thriving consulting agency, succeeded in the role of general manager at VGNBae Studios, and launched several businesses. With her dual master’s degree in education and Pastoral Counseling, she is the ideal person to author this book.
“What started as a handout quickly turned into strategy in motion for pastors and ministries,” states T’Mil about her book which is receiving glowing reviews.
Digital ministry refers to the use of digital tools, platforms, and strategies to deliver spiritual messages, engage with communities, and support the mission of a religious organization.
Marketing is the process of promoting and communicating the value of a product, service, or message, which involves market research, branding, advertising, public relations, and customer engagement. Religious organizations can effectively reach their target audience, build online communities, and share their message through digital marketing.
"Church Growth Through Digital Ministry" is a guide that explains why it's important for churches to have a digital presence. It covers the basics, significance, and initial steps of digital ministry, including topics such as:
How to create engaging content that people will want to share
Why diversity in your approach works for digital ministry
How to use social media to reach new people
Why technology is key for any size church
How to build a digital community around your church
How to use digital tools to connect with people who are far away.
How to measure the success of your digital ministry
“There is one common denominator among ALL web surfers,” says T’Mil. “They are progressively thinking people. The approach to ministering to these individuals requires churches to engage them on a level that catches and holds their attention long enough to relay the Gospel message. The virtual church audience is fertile, ripe ground for administering integral ministry.”
T’Mil is the epitome of the saying ‘I got it from my mama’. “There are so many facets to me, and it comes from my mom,” she states. She encouraged me to not just be good at one thing but to be good at being T’Mil. This means every gift that I’ve been blessed with is valuable. Every talent and skill I have is worth using.”
Before the book, T’Mil launched The Ministry GPS, created to help churches, leaders, and non-profits better navigate the virtual space. “The Ministry GPS helps leaders, churches, and individuals with personal ministry better grasp their virtual presence. It helps take what they do in-person and build online communities around their purpose and goal…”
T’Mil explains that the ability to connect with people virtually right where they are sparks growth. “We achieve this through amazing content and engagement. I teach all my clients that social media is about creating an experience that takes people on a journey and makes them buy into you.”
T’Mil was born to help churches long before her book or the Ministry GPS. “I’m a church baby so, the ministry is my foundation and I’m grateful I’ve learned how to marry it with the secular side of who I am.”
In today’s digital age, where online platforms and technology play a significant role in communication and outreach, her book is a right-on-time resource. One reason her book is resonating with so many in a short time is because of the intentional repetition throughout. “Repetition is intentional because some action steps and or elements overlap since I’m dealing with a specific point within a vast topic.”
As technology continues to advance and shape various aspects of our lives, including communication, social interaction, and access to information, becoming important for religious organizations to adapt and use digital tools to reach and engage with their communities is a given. However, it isn’t so.
T’Mil explains that the conversation around technology in ministry is relatively new and only sometimes welcomed. She explains three postures a church leader might take when facing the possibility of innovation in the local church:
Some leaders get excited at the thought of trying something new.
Some leaders will try something new if there is a need (pandemic).
Some leaders will refuse to adjust methods no matter the circumstance.
“Each leader has followers who take a similar posture, which usually enhances the confirmation bias of the leader,” states T’Mil. She says this makes it difficult to form a measured, objective opinion about how and whether to adopt the new method. “All three postures can produce benefit or harm if taken to an extreme.”
Church Growth Through Digital Ministry will inspire the church leaders who are on the fence and further excite the ones on board. Chapter One gives specific examples of how churches are using digital ministry to grow.
A church in rural Wisconsin uses Facebook Live to stream its Sunday service to people who cannot attend in person.
A church in New York uses Instagram to share photos and videos of its ministries and events.
A church in California uses a website to provide resources for believers, such as Bible studies, devotionals, and prayer guides.
Throughout her journey, T’Mil has put in the time, developed the expertise, and earned the experience of being a creative navigator who offers knowledge to help others achieve beyond their limits.
WFTC: When did you realize entrepreneurship would be part of your journey?
I realized it when I got sick and could no longer work a regular 9 to 5. I have a chronic pain illness called Trigeminal Neuralgia which can mean I have a bad day or a bad month. I went through a brief time where I couldn’t walk or talk and had to depend on my then-boyfriend to feed me. Such a humbling experience that taught me to appreciate life in ways I once took for granted. There are days when I’m having a flare-up that everything from washing my face to brushing my teeth to combing my hair causes excruciating pain. So, I had to reimagine life as I knew it and tap into my God-given gifts and skills to figure out how I was going to keep a roof over my head. It was one of the scariest but has become one of the most fulfilling changes ever in and for my life. I often say, “God, thank you for the pain that pushed me into purpose” with a smile.
WFTC: In your research and experience, what are some common challenges faced by churches when implementing digital ministry strategies?
Assuming you need a lot of manpower and equipment to start. The main things needed are vision and strategy. I always ask my clients where they see ministry in the next five years. From that, I ask them how they plan on getting there. And there is usually a disconnect. Once these two things can intertwine, starting with a realistic plan works wonders.
WFTC: How can churches effectively leverage social media platforms to expand their reach and engage with their communities?
By being social, lol! The average church only uses social media to advertise and promote. There’s no real follow-up after their live worship experience and hardly any activity between Sunday and whatever day their bible study is on.
Churches must become social in the aspect of creating content that others can both share and engage. I teach social media is about creating an experience that takes people on a journey that causes them to buy into who and what you are.
WFTC: How can churches maintain a sense of community and foster meaningful relationships in a digital environment?
By being present beyond posting. What this means is to have the goal of establishing and maintaining community, not just a group or page to post on. Take the time to learn about your target audience and what their needs are. Create content that speaks to their needs, which helps establish you as a trusted voice worth spending time with.
WFTC: Are there any potential drawbacks or risks associated with relying heavily on digital ministry for church growth? How can churches mitigate these risks?
It shouldn’t be relied upon heavily at all. There needs to be a healthy balance based on your call and knowing what works for your audience. Some churches have become so production-driven that there isn’t much room for spiritual encounters. You need both. Creativity and the Creator to propel forward. And it’s about being honest. There’s no one-size-fits-all for digital anything, so learn what works for you. Build systems that help you be consistent and maintain. And never try to compete with anyone else.
WFTC: How can traditional and digital ministry approaches be integrated to maximize church growth and impact?
This is a loaded question to me because I believe “traditional” is why we saw so many church doors close during the pandemic. Gone are the days of doing church the way our grandparents did, because that isn’t speaking to a new generation. Now, I don’t mean doing away with the sacredness of ministry, but any systems hindering growth. Then, with digital, be open to expanding as it expands.
T’Mil Curtis believes that as technology continues to develop, we can expect to see even more innovative ways churches use digital ministry to reach the world with the gospel.