Church Marketing: Squiky or Ok

An interesting discussion popped up on Facebook the other day that I wasn’t expecting when I wrote the original tweet. ?It read:

Need to write a presentation on church marketing for a Thursday mtg. Does church marketing sucks cut it?

Little did I know that it would spark a discussion about churches and their market ideas. ?There is some speculation about wether or not churches should actually do “marketing.” ?One of my best friends mentioned something about if a church does marketing doesn’t it need to pay taxes? ?Also, the thought that churches actively market themselves leaves a bad taste in some parishioners mouths.

As a person who gets paid for church communications I am totally on the other side of the fence.

First let’s discuss the taxes issue. ?I’m not sure what Jake had in mind, but non-profits are allowed to market themselves. ?Libraries do it. ?Charities do it. ?Educational establishments do it. ?Why no churches? ?All of these organizations are 501(c)(3)s. ?The definition of a tax exempt corporation does not mean it cannot market.

As far as churches marketing… why not? ?If you are telling a friend about your church aren’t you marketing? ?Isn’t a church supposed to spread the word of God? ?I could be wrong. ?It could be a yay God social club, but in my experience it is a way for parishioners to come together to share the love of God and to “go and tell.”

As church communicators, or marketers, our job is to figure out a way to communicate the mission of the church in a way that is inviting. ?So why does church marketing suck? ?Because most churches portray themselves to the public as a yay God social club. ?Churches fail to see that there are visitors that attend on Sunday mornings. ?If a church is using acronyms, exclusive language and a whole lot of we’s and us’es that isn’t very inviting now is it? ?Call it evangelism, outreach or marketing… it is all the same thing.

What do you think? ?What turns you off about church or what makes you love the church you go to? ?We aren’t talking about just Lutherans here. ?I would love to hear from all denominations.

5 Comment

  1. Amy says: Reply

    I’m with you (and Lutheran) – churches need marketing but so many members are scared away by the marketing language. Each church offers a unique experience based on its history, location, make up of the congregation, missions, etc. Marketing can help communicate what is important to a variety of audiences – those looking for a church home and those looking for assistance in a certain area.

    I installed analytics on our church website and am saddened by the low numbers of traffic to the site, but we don’t use it as a communication tool for our current members or a marketing tool for prospective members. When it has been brought up in the past, strange looks are exchanged.

  2. Michele says: Reply

    ummm. All I can say is that your church’s website is the best I’ve seen. So, while the website hasn’t gotten me to get up and go to church on Sunday morning… your church at the top of my list for when I do decide to actually go.

    So church marketing is a good thing as long as it’s not too aggressive… an old customer from the nursery I worked at keeps trying to get me to go to her church (Presbyterian). She even showed up at my house this year with an invitation to Easter services. This poor woman keeps praying for me and I checked her church’s website and it sucked. enuf said

  3. Kim Hartman says: Reply

    the calmness that it brings to me, the inner me, that is what I love about church.

    what I dislike about church is the guilt feelings when I cannot make it, the passing of the plate, and the looks of disgust when you don’t add to the plate. (We send in a monthly check, not in the dish), I also dislike that some of the attendees are not patient with other’s small children, I’m always willing to walk out with someone’s child that needs a moment, I remember when mine was small, and someone offered to take him to the vestibule for me, she knew that I needed the moment as much as he did, and it was magic. the dirty looks and sideways glances to our members with tiny ones bothers me so much!

    I have not seen the church web site you have done, but your work stands alone.

  4. Wayne says: Reply

    I’m a designer that tends to do work for Baptist churches and they need it. I agree, it doesn’t matter what denomination you are, most people on the outside just see it as “church.” Yes they need marketing and also branding internally. The church (just like every organization or business) has reputation, whether they know it or not, so why not make it a point to have a professional help. It’s better than being labeled narrow minded, guilt inflicting, better than you attitude if that’s not what church is trying to be.

  5. Passive marketing (billboards, print ads inviting folks to join them) doesn’t bother me but I do tend to feel a bit squicky about TV ads – usually the tone more than anything because they tend to a feature a tanned and gold watch/custom suit wearing evangelist. I don’t see it as wrong – just not well done.

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