Hey Look, Church Marketing!

August 22, 2005 by

USA Today covered church marketing yesterday with the headline, “God is cool.” The story covers the growing trend of churches doing marketing, including the following techniques:

  • An ice cream truck passing out free treats in the neighborhood (New Life Christian Church in Centreville, Va.)
  • Mass-produced TV ads with localized tag lines (Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Md.)
  • 3,000 water bottles and 5,000 Frisbees with a church logo and contact info—and it works: “Ten percent of regular attendees say they learned about the church from a Frisbee.” (LifePointe Christian Church in Charlotte, N.C.)
  • Free coffee and laptops available for use (Granger Community Church near South Bend, Ind.)
  • The United Methodist Church’s 4-week $4 million TV campaign.

The story also attempts to address the downsides of church marketing, including segmentation of what should be a diverse church, the potential for disillusionment, and over-emphasizing personal needs compared to community needs. But frankly, the piece doesn’t cover these concerns very well, especially since many of them depend entirely on how a marketing campaign is conducted. What do we always say? Marketing is just a tool. If you want to use a hammer to drive a screw, well, you can do it—just don’t say your hammer is defective.

But aside from that, it’s cool to see church marketing getting more attention. Now if we could just get to the point where church marketing is no longer news worthy. (link via Tony Morgan)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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6 Responses to “Hey Look, Church Marketing!”

  • Anne Jackson
    August 22, 2005

    God is cool? Am I the only one shuddering in slight disgust?

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  • Anne Jackson
    August 22, 2005

    (I meant from the title. Kudos to those who market well.)

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  • Mark
    August 22, 2005

    We handed out 2,000 water bottles at a local county parade a week ago Sunday. The parade’s estimated attendance was 10,000. We could have handed out at least another 500 as we ran out a block before the end of the parade. We handed out the water bottles as part of marketing efforts for our church launch September 18.
    We had a label for the church on the water bottle. We also had a label for an upcoming free event for children in a local park.
    We had a number of people ask us when we were starting services during the parade. We had tons of takers (people were running up to our trailer to get them) on the water bottles and the event energized our launch team. I have not had any phone calls result from it, but I will be interested to see what the returns are on this when we begin services.
    Unfortunately, the Scientologists also participated in the parade, although I do not know what they did for the parade since they were a dozen or so floats behind us.

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  • Michael Rew
    August 22, 2005

    I do not like church Web sites and promotionals using photographs of people who do not go to the church, especially if the photographs give the impression that the church is diverse (i.e. by ethnicity and age) when the church is mostly white and/or mostly old. Churches, especially growing churches, often have so many interesting people who are photogenic that hiring a photographer would be better than reusing royalty-free photography of people who may not even be Christian.

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  • Justin Broome
    August 23, 2005

    Stock photography has it’s place when used properly. Yes, you can go crazy and “oversell” a church, or make it out to be something it isn’t, but if you know your church market, and if you know your church demographics and target audience, then you can use it effectively. Additionally, in some cases it’s good stewardship of resources. Making quality marketing materials takes time and energy, and that equates (often) to money. Spend the time on making sure the message is the right one, and the people you are reaching out to are the ones who you need to be reaching out to. Use the stock photography to encapsulate the message (that you worked hard to perfect) into a visual image.
    Everything has its place.

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  • Knowledge Lab
    September 7, 2005

    Marketing with Ice Cream, Frisbees & TV

    USA Today recently covered church marketing and highlighted some cool ideas:

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