Since I argued against all the church marketing tips in parts one and two, I thought I would offer up a few church marketing tips of my own. I promise you, mine are less complex, far more cost-effective, and a bit more scary than Jeremy Harrison’s were.
First off though, I want to discuss the idea of church marketing in general.
A proper ecclesiology would help us to understand the Church is the body of believers, and the Church service is when the believers gather together to hear the proclaimed word of God, to receive the sacraments, to worship God in song and prayer, and to be equipped for ministry and good works.
That being said, most church marketing is advertising the wrong thing to the wrong people, as we saw in the previous two posts. If we market to non-believers we would have to offer them something they want. But, the bible makes it clear that they don’t want Jesus!
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18 ESV)
There are two wrong responses we could take in our church marketing if we don’t consider our theology, we could either make the church into what people want, as Harrison’s tips would have us do; or we can play a game of bait and switch, which probably wouldn’t be all that helpful either.
One of the primary problem with Harrison’s tips is that he is marketing to the wrong people. Marketing to non-believers is self-defeating and eventually destroys the church that takes that approach. It also requires a Pelagian theology, that is that we would go against the above quoted passage and believe that people are actively seeking for God, but just don’t know which church most appeals to them. As Pelagianism is disproved in the above passage, and was deemed heretical centuries ago, a sound church shouldn’t use those methods.
If a church is going to do any church marketing, a good theology will determine how they go about it, and to whom they advertise to.
I would suggest that church marketing be targeted to Christians. Christians who are in churches where Christ isn’t proclaimed, Scripture isn’t properly exegeted, or where the sacraments and discipline are absent. That is, market to those who are in a dead church, where the Holy Spirit has long since departed. These Christians are confused, hurting, and in need of a local shepherd who will preach the word to them, who will proclaim law and gospel, and the forgiveness of sins,. Some of these Christians may have went several months without receiving communion, or are no longer attending a church because they haven’t found a healthy one. Prior to my Exodus, I was in one of these churches.
As for how to market to the non-believer, if the preaching and discipleship are being done right this will take care of itself. You see, Christians by their new nature want to tell others about Jesus. They have the good news and they want to spread it. Part of the pastor’s role is to equip them to do so. So, do exactly that, teach believers how to share the Gospel with their neighbor and they will do it. And when the Holy Spirit works in the non-believer to give them faith they will repent of their sins and trust in Christ, and then they will join the church!
As I said in the beginning, this method is biblical, it doesn’t cost much, doesn’t require genius marketing skills, and it relies on God the Holy Spirit to do the work that Jesus promised He will do.
In the past two posts I’ve illustrated bad marketing, in this post I will leave you with the “church marketing” my friends Pastor Daniel Emery Price and Pastor Mike Shally have been using.
To those who have been hurt, in particular by legalistic, moralistic, holiness, or seeker driven churches, and to pastors who minister to them, I very highly recommend this short and comforting lecture by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. And part two, the Gospel in Five Verses. These and other resources from Dr. Rosenbladt can be found at New Reformation Press.