Church Marketing Lessons From Haiti, Part 1

January 30, 2008 by

I just recently returned from being in Haiti with my wife and family. It was a part of our alternate holiday plans as we continue to re-imagine what Christmas is all about. While working closely with two local–and very different–church congregations in Leogane (just outside of Port-au-Prince), I gleaned many lessons for church marketing. This is part one in a three-part series.

Bring Nothing Less Than Your Best
I was deeply moved by the incredible lengths the Haitian people go to bring their best. Every church service was an opportunity to dress up in the best they had–which was way better than anything I packed to wear. Guys wore suits, women wore dresses. Although the churches do not have a dress code or turn people away based on their appearance, the culture in Haiti suggests that unless you’re dressed to the nines, you shouldn’t even walk into a church service. The point here is less about external positioning and more about internal posturing toward God. They dress their best, bring their best and give their best because that’s what they feel God does for them. How can we foster this in our church communities?

Provide Utility, People Come and Stay Longer
Electricity in Haiti is scarce. The government rotates the power grid so that you get about two hours of electricity in the middle of the night. This means days and evenings are without power unless you are wealthy enough to own a generator (few do). Businesses are also affected by this and very few of them have generators. The two churches we worked with did have generators and they could afford to run them once a day for a couple hours, sometimes longer if a service was in progress to amplify the sound. An auxiliary benefit to churches being one of the only places in town with electricity is that people will bring their cell phones and line them up along the walls to charge their batteries. It’s crazy the amount of people in Haiti who have cell phones, although many don’t have a calling plan, they just use them for the games. Some will even hold their phone up to their ear to pretend they’re talking to someone!

I couldn’t help but think about the possibilities for churches outside of the third world to provide utility in exchange for prolonged participation. This is not about baiting people to come and manipulating them to stay. This is about practical help on the outside while spiritual help is being nurtured on the inside.

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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3 Responses to “Church Marketing Lessons From Haiti, Part 1”

  • geoffreybrown
    January 30, 2008

    The cellphone story was applicable in the US, unfortunately.
    Our little rural parish church is fortunate in being located across the street from Lime Rock Park, the auto race track. One of the benefits they bring us — in an area that the telecomm giants do not care about — is their own private cellphone tower, that also conveniently serves our church. Many or most people in our area cannot get a cellphone signal at home.
    We’re also the only church of any denomination in our area with a huge parking lot.
    Somehow, to me the two should fit together, but I am not quite sure how to invite people to come to our church parking lot just to use their cellphones! But it is something that I know I should do…..

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  • Ron L
    January 30, 2008

    This manifestation of people that has litteraly nothing to look their best shows you the level of civility and that they do not despair,different than what the news are portraying .

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  • Todd Stafford
    January 31, 2008

    We’ve worked with a church in Africa that plants new churches by drilling a well, and then holding church services under a tent at the well head. They’ll pack in hundreds of people who have come for water.

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