Written by That Church Marketing Guy
“Marketing” is kind of a greasy word. Like, it’s just slimy. If you rubbed it on a piece of paper it would go see-through, you don’t want to touch it. So I, like many others, used to cringe when I heard the term “church marketing.”
Let’s keep the slime out of the church, shall we? When I heard “church marketing” I immediately thought of a televangelist hocking prayer cloths at 3:00 in the morning. I thought of churches with a lot of flash and no substance. I thought of this empty shell that gives Christianity a bad name and makes it harder to be an effective witness to those who don’t know Jesus.
Then I did some research.
In an attempt to learn how to communicate better, I started stumbling onto marketing techniques that effectively convey and communicate a message. See, we cringe at the word marketing because we have been marketed to badly in the past. We’ve had call centres and used-car dealers and people selling random junk try and fool us into buying their cheesy wares, and we have rejected it.
But, that’s not marketing. Marketing is this: understanding human behaviour and human nature, and communicating a message to people about something they actually want or need. That’s good marketing. And guess what? We have the thing that everyone needs: Jesus. There is nothing sleazy or slimy about understanding human behaviour and using it to convey the message that Jesus loves the person you’re communicating with, and died for them, so that they can live life to the fullest.
That’s probably the least sleazy thing I can think of. The church needs to be able to communicate better. We speak in this weird language that you can only understand if you’ve grown up inside the church culture. People on the outside don’t understand what we mean when we say things like “washed in the blood of the Lamb.”
Our message is of dire importance, and we’re saying it badly. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to help ministry workers communicate clearly, focus their message, and grow their church. Marketing helps us concentrate on the demographics we are sorely lacking in the church and then tells us the appropriate ways to communicate with them. Let’s resolve to stop communicating badly. Let’s resolve to stop speaking in Christianese and to actually reach out in empathy to those outside of the kingdom.
We are often fine with outreach, so long as it happens comfortably within our church bubble, but real outreach is messy and uncomfortable. Real outreach means real people with real flaws and really rough edges. Real outreach requires marketing so that we can put a face to the marginalized, the overlooked and the people we need to see in our pews and it invites them in. It says “Come, learn, and grow” both to those we seek through outreach, and to ourselves.
So you will see this column here going forward, talking about how churches can market themselves more effectively and position themselves better for discipleship, evangelism, and outreach. It’s the word of God we are carrying, we need to be able to speak it loudly and clearly.
You can follow That Church Marketing Guy on Twitter @churchmrktngguy and find his weekly videos on Youtube on the Digisciple.Me channel.