Church Marketing Lessons from a Women’s Homemaking Course

October 6, 2007 by

So Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is offering college-level coursework in homemaking–sewing, cooking, parenting. It’s part of a humanities degree with a concentration in homemaking, and it’s only for women.

While jaws are dropping and eyebrows are raising, my own included, I’m not so interested in their doctrinal beliefs. I think it’s an interesting marketing lesson.

Everything is Marketing
On a very basic level what they’re doing says volumes about who they are. Offering a women’s only program in homemaking sends a very clear message about what you believe. It’s one more proof that marketing happens no matter what. Even if you don’t spend a dollar on marketing, something as simple as the sermon topic is doing plenty of communicating for you.

Be True To Who You Are
Southern Baptists have conservative beliefs. Duh. But they’re not trying to hide the fact in a bunch of sleek language or sugar-coating the truth to avoid criticism. This is who we are, this is what we believe. Take it or leave it.

We get a lot of criticism saying that church marketing is about watering-down the gospel. But that’s the farthest thing from the truth. If you’re not marketing who you really are then you’re lying, and what’s the point? People find out the truth eventually.

Be Aware of Your Audience
Of course part of smart marketing is realizing the impact of your message. If being true to who you are is going to mean a lot of jaw-dropping and eyebrow-raising, then you may need to be sensitive to that fact. Your pastor may need to go on the radio and defend your church’s actions (like a certain seminary president did, carefully choosing a friendly venue). You may need to anticipate reactions and try to defuse the situation. That doesn’t mean changing your message, it means being aware of your audience.

Any good teacher will tailor their lesson to their audience and anticipate the students’ reactions. It doesn’t mean not teaching difficult subjects, it means taking the proper precautions. The same is true when you’re communicating a controversial position that some people might not like (whether it’s your view on women’s roles in the family or your perspective that sinners go to hell). You don’t avoid the message or change the message, but you be very careful about how you deliver the message. That’s smart marketing. (link via Brad Abare)

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 “Church Marketing Lessons from a Women’s Homemaking Course”

  • Joshua Brown
    October 7, 2007

    I agree. I think it is funny how the SBC is often against marketing methods and yet this is a highly target marketing method. While I think it is a dumb class offering, I do think we can learn how to establish our target audience and reach them effectively.

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    October 7, 2007

    This is one of the BEST posts I’ve read on this site. I fwd.’ed this to all our pastors, the insight was too good to keep to myself. Thank you!

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  • Jenn
    October 7, 2007

    i agree with being true to yourself. that’s what they’re doing. from what i understand (and this is totally speculation, so someone correct me if i’m wrong) lots of the women were requesting this class, so it’s not really something that the seminary came up with. the women wanted this class, so they offered it. in that way, they are being true to themselves. i wouldn’t take the class, but that’s just me. what seems absurd to some is completely normal for others. as far as marketing, well…that’s one way to get attention!

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  • Tom Winter
    October 8, 2007

    to diffuse:
    1. to pour out and spread, as a fluid.
    2. to spread or scatter widely or thinly; disseminate.
    3. Physics. to spread by diffusion.
    Perhaps the author means “defuse”.

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    October 8, 2007

    Defuse indeed. Thanks, Tom.

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  • MT
    October 11, 2007

    No, Jenn, the students were NOT requesting this. This is for the women in their undergraduate program, which is in itself a disingenuous ploy to cover for the falling masters-level enrollment. Go-figure. Why people are fooled by this is a mystery to me. I thought things were bad in my time (pre-Patterson) earning a degree that no longer exists, MA in Communications. If things go the same as his last post the Counseling program will probably also be on the chopping block…too many female students. These classes are for his joke of a college and for the wives of male seminary students…an indication of all that he feels women are capable of and to what they should be restricted.
    Most Baptists I know think this guy is a fundamentalist whack job and we’re sick of him making the rest of us look like idiots.

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