The following is a list of ministry ideas that your church could incorporate into its mission. These ministry ideas are collected from various churches I'm familiar with, but they're by no means a comprehensive collection. So I'd love to hear from you if you have a great idea to share! Let me know if you've seen any really cool and unique, or at least effective, ministries. Anyways, here's the list;
Christian Counseling Center. Many people in a church need more particular care than a pastor can offer himself, which is where Christian counselors (professional, lay, etc.) come in. Having a Christian Counseling Center at your church will allow your members to receive the counseling and care they need, and it also allows you to be a recovery resource to many struggling people in your surrounding community. CCEF is really the leader in gospel-centered counseling and provides a ton of great resources for having a sustainable Christian Counseling Center. Personally, though, I'm a big fan of the affordable counseling model of Karis House. They offer a lot of services including professional counseling, lay counseling, children's counseling, redemption groups (see below), and pre-marital counseling.
City Renewal Program. Essentially, this type of ministry establishes partnerships with the local government, non-profit organizations, and relevant businesses in order to work alongside others for the renewal of the city. This kind of ministry might include sending volunteers to tutor students regularly at schools, to aid and advise immigrants who are new to the area through local immigration offices, to do service projects in particular neighborhoods, to provide job training or career counseling, or to serve in government-sponsored events (e.g., Soccer Nights in a community, etc.). The general idea is coming alongside and empowering people, working together for renewal, rather than coming to the rescue of anyone in an "us and them" sort of way. Let people keep their dignity as progress happens. One of the best examples of this kind of ministry is Mission: St. Louis.
Community Resource Center. The church's Community Resource Center can provide meals that are either cooked in-house or catered, maintaining a high standard of quality. Attendees are given use of relevant church facilities (e.g., bathrooms, showers, etc.). Additionally, people can fill out request forms while at the meal in order to receive other types of assistance (e.g., job training, rehabilitation assistance, temporary living arrangements, clothing, supplies, etc.). After the meal, there can be an optional devotional message, along with a time to receive prayer from staff members and volunteers. My church, Hope Fellowship offers this kind of ministry on both a weekly (drop-in) and monthly (big event) basis. A very comprehensive example of this type of ministry could be a Community Resource Center like Saddleback's; if you're low on resources, you could at least incorporate a few of their ideas.
Digital Magazines. Publishing a digital magazine allows you to tell the stories of your congregation, provide an alternative means of teaching/sharing about the gospel, allows congregants to write about things they care about, and allows you to showcase and support the arts and beauty. It's basically a shareable testimony of what God is doing in your midst. Most importantly, it's a conversation starter. It gets people - both inside and outside of your church - reflecting on and talking about important issues. Best to offer on an annual or bi-annual basis. Your monthly church newsletters can build up momentum for one of these bad boys to be released. Examples include Mosaic LA's Terra Nova magazine and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Kalos Journal.
Ethnic Celebration Meals. Celebrate the various ethnicities in your church and surrounding area by having an Ethnic Celebration Meal every quarter. Invite people from the church to set-up potluck style stations that offer foods from their homelands, and also invite local ethnic restaurants to set up sample booths. You can partner with your local city government or chamber of commerce on this one. One church that I've seen do this well is Christ The King - Cambridge, who sometimes offers a Brazilian style meal for the congregants in order to recognize the presence of their Brazilian congregants and celebrate their culture.
Gender-specific Discipleship Groups. These kind of groups can provide men and women in your church with focused, intentional relationships that are discipleship oriented. At our church, Hope Fellowship, we typically do Men's Triads (3 guys, with one designated leader) and Women's Groups (multiple women, with one designated leader). Groups can meet at restaurants, cafes, pubs, or homes in order to hang out, discuss life (work, personal, family), and read and discuss a book together. The small groups typically go well with a corporate event every quarter, such as a men's rock climbing event or a women's beach trip.
Home Parties. Community Groups can host quarterly (or monthly!) parties in homes, with the intention of people from the groups inviting their friends, co-workers, and neighbors to the parties. Many non-Christian people will never come to church if you invite them there first, but few people (in general) would turn down an invitation to a party. So it's important to leverage that and use parties as a way to connect non-Christians into an aspect of your Christian community. You're building connections. The only catch is that the party needs to be cool and worth attending, which can be a challenge for many Christians, especially those who have avoided parties their whole lives. Have no Bible study or praying, just partying. In other words, an inviting environment. Music, tons of high quality food and drinks, the right people in attendance, and so on. So, it could be beneficial to have some folks with the gift of hospitality - or better yet, event planners - train your Community Group leaders and hosts in how to throw a party. For a fun twist, you could also have things like art openings be incorporated into these home parties.
Ministry Internships. Discipleship has to be incredibly intentional in the church, especially when it comes to helping young men and women progress in pursuing their callings into ministry. An internship program can provide a concrete means of achieving progress in this area of ministry, and it also edifies your church as the young people (finally?) start using their gifts rightly. The important thing is to have both a good mentor and a good opportunity related to your calling. In the beginning, it's probably appropriate to just have pastoral ministry interns. Then, as your church and internship program grows, you can add other types of ministry internships (e.g., media internship, worship leader internship, etc.). I recommend having 1 year internship, so that you can really walk alongside someone long-term and make a difference in their lives, while having real commitment from them, too. Do summer internships at your own risk - some churches still think they're valuable. One of the most comprehensive internship programs out there is led by Mars Hill Church.
Online Communities (and/or Message Boards). Considering how much social networking is done online these days, it's absolutely essential that churches have an online social networking aspect to their community. Plus, in cities, it can be particularly hard to find things like housing and jobs, especially if you're new to an area. Additionally, many people struggle to connect with others who are of the Christian faith. While Craigslist is a great option for many people, it can be beneficial for others if the church provides a separate, similar option. It can be overwhelming for some folks to sort through all the crazies on Craigslist. And a church should really be a standout "go to" place for having one's needs met. One example of a lightly moderated, "open to the community" style of message boards can be found at Park Street Church. A more organized "online-community" style of forums and message boards can be found at The City. I'm a big fan of The City and how it can be easily integrated into most church websites, but it does require some serious commitment and training to use effectively.
Online Resource Center. In an age where people check out your website before they check out your church, it's important to have an awesome website. And to be awesome, your website should provide a sample of the experience that people will have upon coming to your church. Having all of these resources in one location on your website is key, too, so that it's easy to navigate. So put up videos of your worship services - music and sermons. Post your Community Group discussion questions, so that people can easily retrive them or sample what it might be like to join a group. Also consider putting up position papers that you've written which reflect your church's views on important matters, so that people have stuff to read in their free time. And do be sure to make everything you can shareable on social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.). You'll be surprised how many views your online content gets. Heck, somebody may even get saved online if you do all this stuff right.
Pastoral and Church Planting Residencies. In the medical industry, you have to complete a residency before you can go off and be an official doctor on your own. Many churches (including mine, Hope Fellowship) have adopted this practice for pastoral ministry and church planting, too, in order to encourage and equip young men in pursuing their callings into ministry. Typically, these residencies are an appropriate stage after the candidate already has some full-time ministry experience and has completed bible college and/or seminary, but is kind of stuck when it comes to making progress. Pastoral Residencies are valuable for giving a candidate experience and training necessary for being a Lead Pastor. Church Planting Residencies go a step beyond that and also equip and train the candidate to plant a church. Sometimes a Church Planting Residency can allow for a candidate to live in his target area for a period of time (near the end of the residency), while still traveling back and forth from his home church for training and ministry opportunities, so that he can get a head start on the church planting process. For an example of Pastoral Residencies, check out Mars Hill Church. For examples of Church Planting Residency models, check out Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Fellowship Associates.
Refuge Center for Victims of Sex-Trafficking and Exploitation. Although this issue doesn't get much media attention in the US, sex trafficking is a major issue (both here and overseas) and may be one of the most important issues for the church of today to address. The sex trafficking industry is the fastest growing industry in the world. So, the idea in providing a Refuge Center is the church (in partnership with local businesses and individuals) providing victims with specialized counseling and care, alternative career training, employment, and permanent living arrangements. There are often some state government organizations that churches can partner with, but some Christian ministries examples include Scarlet Hope, Restore Innocence, International Justice Mission, and The Covering House.
Sermon "Round Table" Discussions. After preaching, an experienced pastor sits down at a table with a group of young, aspiring preachers who have evaluated his sermon. They have the opportunity to ask him questions and get answers, as well as offer feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of his message. Additionally, the pastor can provide the young men with preaching training (including assigned reading, sample sermon manuscripts, and small group practice preaching opportunities). One model of this is done by Redeemer City-to-City, as local pastors use Tim Keller's preaching manual as their curriculum. Historically, though, many "famous"pastors have done this. It's beneficial to both and pastor and the apprentices. My church, Hope Fellowship, follows the model described above.
Vocational Community Groups. Intersecting faith and work by providing networking opportunities with peers/co-workers, while still following your church's standard model for Community Groups (i.e., small group bible studies). This kind of ministry can include things like special lectures with guest speakers (to invite friends and co-workers), and each Vocational Community Group could offer free vocational training workshops to the community at large as a way to serve together. Certain vocations may be able to provide special services to the church, too (e.g., accounting, graphic design, etc.). For the best example, check out Redeemer Presbyterian Church's Center for Faith and Works. Another example includes The City Church's Marketplace Ministries, though I feel like their idea may need some adaptation and refinement in order to be in line with my values.