I attended a conference last year and sat in a workshop for church marketing.
Throughout the entire workshop, there was an uneasy feeling within me. It wasn’t the speaker. He was great. And throughout the conference, I attended his workshops the most.
But, I guess I just never felt comfortable with marketing and the church. Especially the way he was telling us how his church does it, and how their model can benefit our marketing. Maybe it made me feel uneasy because I’m not into business and marketing, or maybe because the whole talk of marketing made us, as a church, more business-like than I ever want to think.
He recommended, suggested, declared that 10% of the budget should be used for marketing and advertising. Billboards, ads, commercials, so forth. He said that we should try to network out to newspapers and reporters so that when some religious issue arises, the journalists knows who to contact for a Christian perspective. He told us to think of creative ways to advertise.
And the whole time I’m thinking to myself… 10% of the budget, just to get the word out? That 10% of the budget could be put to better use… like helping the poor.
There’s a church here in Costa Mesa that I’ve been trying to attend (never can find the time). But I have yet to see any advertisement from them. They don’t have ads, commercials, billboards or any other signage except for the one in front of the building they use (at least I haven’t seen any ads.)
But, I know of them. Because there’s just a buzz, a feeling from the people I run into. I first heard about this church through my wife’s workplace. The church donated bicycles to various places (including my wife’s shelter) for the kids. I’ve met members of the church at Starbucks and other coffee places and struck up conversations with them. They are genuinely excited about their church and their church’s mission and how their church is going about their mission. The person that did my taxes went to that church, and when he found out I was a pastor, we spent half an hour talking about church, and he couldn’t be more excited to share the type of ministries that his church does (he was lay-leader for a motorcycle ministry) and how they have spread the Gospel to people he thought would never respond to the name of Jesus. The members of the church are genuinely excited for their ministries and for Jesus.
10% of the budget? Maybe they do that. But you know, when the church acts right, acts like a church, I believe the Gospel becomes… irresistible. Or interesting to people around us. When we truly live out our mission, there’s something unique and grace just draws people to Christ. And it creates excitement for people who are involved in the mission of Christ and it excites people like me, who hear about people deeply involved in the mission of Jesus. At least that’s what I believe.
I don’t think money and marketing is necessary.
I think personal invitations, word of mouth and actions of faith will always be far more irresistible than something seen on a piece of paper, no matter how big of a size that paper may be.