The Blue Ocean strategy was first introduced in the 2004 book titled, “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. The authors theorized that instead of focussing on competition between companies and organizations, a new strategy could be deployed focussing on unique possibilities of serving that would make competition irrelevant.

Here are five steps pastors and churches could use to enact the Blue Ocean Strategy.

  1. Missional Discovery. The first step for a church taking the Blue Ocean approach involves conducting research and analyzing the unmet needs of a community. In this missional discovery phase, spiritual, emotional, economic, physical, and educational needs of a community will be examined. To identify these needs, a variety of tools will be utilized, including market analysis, community surveys, and interviews with local people and leaders. How can you as a pastor discover the unmet needs in your community?
  2. Value Proposition Development. The second step for a church committed to the Blue Ocean approach requires the development of a value proposition. A value proposition identifies needs in a community and differentiates the roles of one church from other local congregations to avoid redundancy. During this phase, a church can discover new ways of serving the community or may even discover better ways to deliver existing services. As an example, local churches in some Canadian communities identified a need for safe indoor recreation during the long winter months. After identifying this need, the churches responded by building indoor play structures for children and creating spaces for young parents to gather. Are there people in your church who could work as a “dream team” to develop a value proposition based on community needs?
  3. Create Awareness of Distinctiveness. Step three in a Blue Ocean strategy is getting the word out to the community. Communicating your new missional offering distinguishes your church as relevant and focused on key needs. This will cause two things to happen: one is that people will be served and two is the community will see your church as a group committed to meeting needs. “Find a need and fill it” as Ruth Stafford Peale was fond of saying. How can your church communicate the ways in which you are addressing community needs without negating the value of other churches in the community?
  4. Mission Execution and Delivery. The last step is to execute the strategy and bring the new missional service(s) to fruition. This will involve a dual focus involving internal preparation and training and listening to the community’s response. When a church creates new avenues of missional service, opportunities for disciple-making increase. More people will become interested in discovering the good news of Jesus which is the heart of the process for a church. Who in your church would you consider leading this new initiative?
  5. Continuous Evaluation of Feedback and Data: The Blue Ocean strategy implementation is not a one-time event for a church. It is a continuous process necessitating recurrent research, evaluation, and improvement. To ensure sustainability and effectiveness, churches should regularly monitor and evaluate the performance of their Blue Ocean strategy and adjust as needed. Does your church have analytical individuals who could be deployed missionally to research the effectiveness of ongoing programs?

To learn more about this challenge, see the following resources:

Kim, W., and Renée Mauborgne. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. Harvard Bus Review Press, 2016.

Intellectual contributor: Dr. Eric Hallett, district superintendent of the Central Canada District of The Wesleyan Church.
Executive editor:
Johanna Rugh
Curator of content:
Carla Working