Church Marketing


Most everyone who knows me understands that I highly value churches that employ marketing. Although I have a few friends who eschew the practice, I’m convinced they aren’t thinking through it. First of all, everyone uses marketing. Whether it’s word of mouth or a $40,000 marketing budget, we all use methods to communicate our message. Beyond that, marketing – in my opinion – is nothing more than using every means available to communicate an important message. In our case we have the greatest message possible, and I want to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

While all of the above is true, I have a tremendous problem with church marketing gone bad. Churches are known almost universally for cheesy sayings, pithy comments and ripping off good marketing thoughts and slapping a “Jesus sticker” on it. The lack of originality and conscious effort on behalf of churches annoys me. We should not fear marketing, but we shouldn’t do it poorly either. That is why I am such a big fans of those who have a handle on successful church marketing. Two guys that are friends of mine that do an especially effective job are Cory Miller and Chris Forbes.

That said, I will share with you that there is very little that annoys me any more than cheesy church signs. Churches are much better off to avoid signs altogether. They are almost always a mess waiting to happen.

Case in point is the message below that I recently saw on a local church sign. Not only is it a very weak attempt to drum up interest which it almost certainly will fail at doing, but beyond that it’s a lie altogether. I guess we give churches permission to lie if it’s for a good cause. The end always justifies the means, evidently.

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Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

8 thoughts on “Church Marketing

  1. I agree. It wasn’t so long ago that a local congregation scrolled this message on their sign: ” For all you do, His blood’s for you.”
    Not only would the reference to the blood not resonate with casual observers, but the rip-off of the Budweiser slogan would undoubtedly cause them to think about beer instead. But then, the same church also scrolled this in bold letters: “Yaba daba do…God loves you!” Well, Wilma, there’s a lot of fear of and reverence for our God there.

  2. We want to present the Message in its profound simplicity, and our means may vary, adapting where appropriate to circumstances. But where I believe the marketing goes bad is when people think that the Gospel cannot stand on its own; that, whether some would admit to it, they think the Good News somehow isn’t good enough, by itself, in the power of the Spirit, to convict and convert without augmenting it with some razzle-dazzle scheme or slogan. The Reformers thundered, “Scripture alone!” and we’d do well to hear and heed that.
    Honest methods to send the Gospel out or to bring people in to hear it have their place and should be used if they glorify God in their intent and their approach. These methods, like messengers, are there to convey truth while getting out of the way of the Truth.

  3. Cory-

    You’re welcome, and deserving. My pleasure.

    Steve-

    That’s another example of really sad marketing. Ugh is about all I can say. My worry about things like that is that they bring damage to the reputation of the church and, by extension, the name of God. What a waste of energy.

    Also, I agree with your conclusion about the message of the gospel. It stands alone, and needs no help to save people. That being said, it is also clear that we have a message to communicate this sufficient Word. In my opinion, church marketing does just that.

    Blessings
    Micah
    Psalm 67

  4. Micah,

    Thanks for the link and props to you. I think many people need to look closer at what marketing is. When I have seen objections to it, I notice people are reacting to either a misconception about marketing or a marketing malpractice.

    BTW: Some of the best marketers I have seen are the anti-marketing people. 🙂

    The gospel can certainly stand on it’s own, but like any missionary, we need to learn to communicate with the people we hope to reach.

    Thanks again!

    Chris Forbes

  5. Micah, some thoughts on marketing/advertising. First what are we trying to market,an event, our church, the Gospel? Second how do we market a product to an unregenerate person who is controlled by their flesh?

    Is marketing exampled in Scripture? Btw I am not opposed to marketing or I would not be writing on your blog or have invested in a website for our new church since both are marketing tools.

    Paul

  6. There are a lot of ways to “market” church these days… i think about this often. It is relevant to think about “spiritual marketing” when you’re talking to Americans especially. The tough part is maintaining a God-dependent, Christ-surrendered, Spirit-led mindset. nice layout btw

  7. The problem with church marketing – as with most any kind of marketing, really – is that people have almost become immune to overt marketing strategies…people don’t like to be ‘sold’ to, which is presumably why Starbucks spend money on product placement rather than on more traditional commercials. Another problem with the idea of marketing a church is that ultimately, every church is on the same side. So trying to take ‘customers’ from the ‘competition’ is not the same as (for this example) Starbucks taking customers from Dunkin’ Donuts. I think its more important that churches fill a need for their congregation that they don’t find elsewhere, because finding a church is a lot like finding a home to buy – there are plenty of options, and it takes time to find the correct one that has everything you’re looking for. Therefore, any marketing exercise needs to tailor its website, church brochures, and other publications so as to promote its own values rather than denigrate others.

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