Evangelism & Marketing

October 1, 2004 by

“Any religion that believes in evangelism at its core believes in marketing,” notes the Rev. Dan Webster, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

Wow. Couldn’t have said it better myself. The Deseret Morning News (which quoted Rev. Webster) covers church marketing in a balanced and thorough article. They say a lot of what we’ve said, but why listen to just us?

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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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3 Responses to “Evangelism & Marketing”

  • brad
    October 1, 2004

    Way to go Deseret Morning News! If churches all over the country started getting their act together, and really reaching people with materials and methods that reflect the mediums that people are responding to, why couldn’t we assume mainstream media will “cover” the church better? I’m encouraged, but still committed to getting rid of church marketing that sucks.

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  • Frank Johnson
    October 1, 2004

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for the past week or so – very interesting!
    I had to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with church marketing.
    On the one hand, I do a lot of work with churches and ministries on their web presence (which I think is one of the best ways to “market” a church to unbelievers). I’ve even written a white paper on church websites – http://www.strategicdigitaloutreach.com/documents/churchwebsites.pdf if you’re interested.
    At the same time, I’ve been an associate pastor at a church which was largely consumed with trying to market effectively. What I saw in my experience (although it may only have been this church’s implementation of marketing principles) was that what the church organization tried to present in its marketing efforts really didn’t reflect the reality (or lack thereof) of the life the church was experiencing.
    In the business world, I like to think about how branding is effected by reality. As a marketer (specifically, I’m an internet marketing strategist), we can have very effective branding collateral (advertisements, websites, logos, brochures, etc., etc.) which are perfect in terms of conveying the message we want to send. But if the receptionist is rude the first time a potential customer calls, all of our branding efforts go out the window because our branding doesn’t match the reality.
    That’s where I think a lot of churches who aggressively market to the world are finding themselves these days – they have great advertising materials, but those materials don’t match the reality of what a visitor finds when they start getting involved.
    It seems to me that the age-old “marketing” technique that Jesus taught was that we should concentrate on building community and the world would be drawn through that. John 17:21-23 – “if my disciples are one, then the world will know that the Father loves them and that the Father sent me (my rough paraphrase).” The converse is true – if we are not one, unbelievers will not know that the Father loves them and they won’t know that the Father sent Jesus to save us.
    If we concentrated the majority of our efforts on building the type of community the New Testament church experienced – the kind of community that says “I love you so much that I would die for you tomorrow, but I love you so much that I will live for you today” – we would see some dramatic results. If we concentrate on building the reality, won’t people be drawn to us through the one-on-one friendships the one pastor commented on in the article?
    Just some thoughts.
    Thanks for providing this venue for discussion!

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  • kevin
    October 4, 2004

    Absolutely, Frank. Thanks for commenting.
    We’ve continually made the point that any church marketing efforts need to match up with the church itself. I keep coming back to two words: authentic and effective. The slickest campaign in the world still sucks if the congregation it’s promoting can’t live up to the hype.
    In many ways church marketing needs to be what we rarely think of as marketing (though new business marketers like Seth Godin and others are definitely thinking this way): simple things like being courteous and welcoming.

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