In early 2009, I started researching what church marketing is all about. I wanted to know how one markets a church when there is not a product or service to be sold, but rather an experience, or better yet, a relationship. I didn’t want to promote the “next best meeting” or the “coolest book since Purpose Driven Life.” I wanted to know how to meet the needs of the people in and around the church I worked for.
If Jesus thought it was worthwhile to spend his time around tax collectors, prostitutes and murderers, then surely there was something about Him that knew how to be culturally relevant to where they were at. So often the American Church expects the unsaved to come to them and be convinced of their need for a savior. But what we can be convinced into, we can just as easily be convinced out of.
Marketing comes down to managing perception–the perception of the church, the perception of the leadership, even the perception of what a typical church member looks like. So often the church tries promoting themselves as having the latest and greatest in fanfare and media when that is not what the world is looking for. Why go to church to see great light shows and bands when you can go see Muse or U2 with no offering plates or guilt and condemnation? Now, I am all for multimedia, light productions, and having it done professionally, but I am against making that the focal point of a church service.
Relevance is not trying to be like the world, but offering them something they can’t find anywhere else. Relevance is having answers to their questions. Jesus was relevant because He met their needs through signs and wonders before He ever tried preaching the gospel to them. Does Jesus even invite one person to church? He WAS the church.
In the path of my research on church marketing, I came across this video by Richard Reising entitled, “What if Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?” The truth presented in this short video is humorous, yet deeply convicting.
If you are feeling that your methods of reaching the unsaved are not bringing in the results you hoped for, ask yourself how you would feel if Target, Home Depot, or some other business tried contacting you the way you approach others. We’re not out to save nameless, faceless souls. We’re out to be a bridge between real people and a real God. The strength of that bridge depends upon our ability to be relevant.