What is Marketing?

November 16, 2004 by

Ask most people about marketing and they’ll talk about advertising. Why? Because advertising is the end result of a long marketing process and the only part that is actually observed by the general public. Behind the scenes, though, there are hundreds of people and thousands of hours of marketing work involved in every product you see advertised.

This becomes problematic when consumers of advertising become creators of marketing, as they assume they should start with advertising. That’s like assuming that building a house begins with picking out paint and wallpaper because that’s the part that’s most visible and that you’re most familiar with.

So what is marketing?

Marketing is the study and practice of better, faster, cheaper and friendlier. “Making things go more smoothly,” as I put it to my students. The product or service a company provides is the “what” of its existence. Marketing is the “how.” In a church setting, our “what” is the spreading of the Word of Christ. We want to grow the Church, heal the world and bring the Good News to those that haven’t heard it. Those are all answers to the question, “What should the church be doing?” The question, “How can we do those things better?” is one that marketing can help answer.

So where do we start? Good marketing begins with some basic ideas that can help any organization—including your church—accomplish many objectives long before venturing into the realm of advertising.

Good marketing programs must have well stated goals, often at several levels. By “levels of goals,” I mean that company-wide, department, and personal marketing goals are often set forth, and should compliment each other. If “increased customer satisfaction” is a company-wide goal, then a personal marketing goal might be “spend more time in one-on-one customer interactions.” Goal consistency is even more imperative in a church setting where much more is at stake than dollars.

That which is not measured cannot be improved. One of my favorite bosses once quipped that marketing without measurement is like basketball without baskets; “Lots of dribbling, but what’s the point?” For churches, measurement can be about much more than the numbers of people attending services. You can measure how many people are involved in different activities, how many hours of volunteer time are given, how pleased people are with various activities, how satisfied staff and clergy are. And your measurements should all tie back to those goals we talked about earlier.

Project Planning
Once you have goals set, and an idea of how to measure progress towards them, you need a plan. How to get from “Point A” to “Point Z” without trying to skip the stuff in between. Marketing planning utilizes a “blueprint” model that navigates from the statement of a goal to its achievement. This is where many churches (and businesses) fall down. Project planning skills simply aren’t taught in schools. But they are taught in many corporate marketing departments.

Group Dynamics
Marketing often requires a balance of priorities. Shareholders want maximum profits; customers want low prices; employees want higher wages. Marketing has to find a balance. Knowing how to “market internally” can mean the difference between success and failure… even before a product ever gets out the door. Managing internal marketing relationships within your church will help you prepare for and overcome tension and unrest that can disturb your people and limit your success.

In the business world, how these and other marketing fundamentals work together will depend on the particular product or service being marketed. In a church setting, marketing programs will also depend on the goals and resources of the particular church. But no matter what you want to accomplish, starting with a strong foundation is critical. As Christ said in Luke 6:47-48: (NKJV) “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.” Don’t start your marketing programs by working on the “paint and paper” of advertising first. You’ll only end up standing around in a muddy, vacant lot arguing about why you’re still wet and cold. Start with simple, foundational marketing plans and you’ll end up with something that will stand the test of time.

Post By:

Andy Havens

Andy Havens brings 15 years of experience to the table and is the founder and president of the marketing firm Sanestorm, as well as a number of different blogs. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Christina, and his son, Daniel.
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72 Responses to “What is Marketing?”

  • Jon
    March 23, 2005

    Just FYI, your URL makes your website sound like a total anti-Church marketing organization…rather than (I think) your intended goal of simply saying that most churches’ modern marketing approach sucks.

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  • Rev. Steve
    April 15, 2005

    I love your site, but I must agree with the above comment. It took a while for me to realize you were not against church marketing.

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  • Mark
    April 22, 2005

    I think your domain name is perfect, and as a marketing professional — who also happens to be involved in marketing my church – I knew exactly what the name implied.

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  • paul aratow
    May 26, 2005

    For the future of religious art, check out

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    • Gary Smith
      January 25, 2011

      You may want to remove this. The url is not a wbsite.

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  • Gavin
    June 3, 2005

    I love the name, it’s intriguing and in your face. :-)

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  • Phillip A. Ross
    August 19, 2005

    Most of what I have read on this site makes the same errors regarding marketing that the Church Growth Movement pioneered and continues to use.
    The issues is not whether or not to market, but “what” to market and “how” to market it. The “what” is much more important than the “how.” Too many people have assumed the “what” and moved on to the “how.”
    Most church marketing focuses on marketing the church. Duh! But that is exactly the problem! It is like having the customers market themselves. Where does Christ tell us to lift ourselves up, which is what marketing is.
    No, we are not to lift ourselves up (not even our various churches, denominations, associations, etc.). Rather, we are to lift up Jesus Christ and/or Scripture. We need to abandon self centered marketing (church centered marketing) and engage Christ centered marketing.
    See more at http://www.paross.com/christianmarketing.htm

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  • James Dickerson
    August 20, 2005

    While I do understand the above comment, I strongly disagree. Church-centered marketing and Christ-centered marketing are the same. Last time I checked, the Church was still the Body of Christ. Christ(the Head) is exalted when we (His body) lovingly function in His name.
    The Church cannot be divorced from Christ.
    Ultimately, every prospective lost soul will encounter the Church first. The Church will then introduce them to Christ.
    The movies have taught us what all aliens request of thier hosts, “take me to your leader”

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  • Rail
    August 25, 2005

    Many men, and even more agenda’s.
    God will provide.

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  • Agent B
    September 3, 2005

    Man! I’m highly disappointed I thought this site WAS anti-church marketing, etc. Dang, and I was about to be your biggest fan.
    Love the domain name though.

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  • Jim
    September 8, 2005

    Love the blog.
    Jim at

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  • Nick
    September 13, 2005

    How can anyone who is supposedly doing God’s work, use a vulgarity in the title of their domain and site name?
    I realize that in today’s world those kinds of words are tolerated, but I don’t think it brings glory to God when your “in your face” title refers to an immoral act involving a man’s penis.
    Call me old school, but I believe that scripture states clearly, “let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouth, except that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen.” (Eph 4:29)
    Your domain name and title do not fulfill this passage of scripture. Your name does the reverse!

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  • WileMark Publications
    September 19, 2005

    First of all…. let me make myself clear, “Sometimes I think… and then again, I dunno!” So, I guess I’ll just run outside and throw-up!!! Oh, but first, try and remember how much “marketing” our Lord Jesus Christ did! One last thought for you to peruse, ” Ignorance is Bliss but, Education shall reveal to you if you ‘MISS'” wp

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  • zsolt
    September 21, 2005

    The URL to me was clear the first time, but it’s so negative. Are we trying to bring about a positive change? Then why are we talking in negatives? The name suggests that you just diss church marketing. The whole thing is negative. Being inyourface and surprising is good, but a basic copywriting principle stating that you should avoid expressing yourself in negatives is much more important.

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  • Webmaster General
    October 8, 2005

    I personally think there is way too much ‘Marketing’ of “The Church” and God’s Son Jesus Christ! It’s not “The Church” and how many attend each Sunday to produce large ‘collections’ that we’re supposed to be Advertising… it’s The Gospel of Jesus Christ and His love for us all that we should make all aware of. Many ‘Churches’ have become Business Corporations, Schools,Daycare Centers, etc. Sad, so sad….

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  • brand1m
    October 8, 2005

    I think part of the problem is that church marketing is seen as only being about getting more people into the church; which many translate as just looking for money.
    Although getting more people can be part of it, what about just letting your community know what you stand for? What if you just want to communicate that God loves them? Is that part of the evil demon of Church marketing?
    I guess to me it comes down to your motives. Churches, whether we like it or not, are ran like businesses now. Many churches bring in millions of dollars a year and they need a structure to work within. I don’t see using business principles to administer the church as a negative thing–I just see it as trying to manage the tools that God has blessed your church with to the best of your ability. But then again, what do I know, I just make postcards. ;)

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  • Dabin Fox
    October 11, 2005

    I typed “Jesus All about Life” into google, and your site came up first.
    Was it your plan to divert people, just so you could tell them that you think that you market better than the people they were trying to seek? If so, good job… Hope it makes you feel special. Learnt about why I shouldn’t be a Christian…
    Last time I read a Bible, I remember it says Jesus said, “Be Fishers of men”.
    If you are preventing someone from doing that- regardless of how much better you may be at it- you may want to check your motives.
    And, your assumptions about Churches “self-serving ” motives for marketing (insinuations that ‘they really aren’t interested in being what Jesus wanted them to be’) are probably more based on personal bitterness than truly seeing the heart of those passionate about your own faith… Even I would give them more credit than that.

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  • swoosh
    October 11, 2005

    ethics is always in question, who is to say where the line is?
    check out Louis Palau…the guy has Pepsi sponsoring some of his events….that’s good marketing, on BOTH sides…but is it ethical…?

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  • Kevin Parker
    October 11, 2005

    Let’s chill out a little. Marketing is like leadership: neither is inherently good or bad, but both are needed to shepherd people into relationship with Christ. And when the secular business world spends billions trying to understand how humans interact and positively react (or negatively react) to our message and our leadership, it behooves us to take advantage of what we can learn. Jesus used many techniques of speech and leadership of his day. He also challenged many things of his day. We have to learn the good and reject the bad. And the truth is, most church marketing sucks. That is why I try to help churches do it better, including the one where I preach.
    Those of you familiar with marketing may know the title “Web Pages that Suck” as a clever “marketing” tool to show what is bad (and not to repeat those mistakes).

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  • Steven
    October 15, 2005

    As a graphic designer, head of marketing, and church pastor, I think your website says it all.
    I absolutely agree with the domain name and think you guys are doing a wonderful job.
    It is unfortunate to see the traditional “holier-than-thou’s” at work bashing a much needed topic.
    Keep up the great work!

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  • Ernie DiMalanta
    October 17, 2005

    Great Site! I’m in charge of marketing for two churches and I provide marketing solutions for small businesses. Question: Do you think there can be a negative extreme to applying the corporate mindset of marketing to church? Please explain your answer.

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  • cm
    October 17, 2005

    I’m impressed with your research and evaluation.
    I’m an active member of a mega-church in Virginia; was saved at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and a long-time member of Saddleback Church in California until I moved away. I’m also a marketing major.
    I have always ‘pushed the envelope’ in the realm of church marketing. I think evangelicals preaching the saving grace of Christ should be free to utilize technology and connections with the world to reach the world.
    Paul was a tent maker – do you think he utilized the contacts he made during his work to bring people to hear him preach the Risen Christ? You bet he did.
    I’m praying right now for an opportunity to get the COO and CFO of my corporation thinking about sponsoring a non-profit ministry to kids with disabilities and their families because one is on the board of a disability organization and the other is an active member of my church.
    If we, as the church, spend a large amount of money supporting missions outreaches all around the world, but do not spend time, energy, and dollars to reach our neighbors with message that Christ died for them so they could live life eternally with Him – what are we doing? If we do not shout louder than the world to get the attention of the lost, who will travel the world to preach the Risen Christ? Those who sit idly in the pews of uninspired churches listening to tired liturgy? No. Those who are inspired by the living Christ will be willing to say, “here I am, send me.”
    As long as the method does not change the message – I say let’s utilize it. Someone mentioned Pepsi sponsoring Luis Palau’s outreaches. If Pepsi were to sit down with Luis Palau and ask him to change his message…to ask him “why must you be so ‘preachy’?” If the method changes the message or if it crosses a boundary of sending a mixed or confused message then it must to avoided…otherwise – go for it!

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  • WHB
    November 5, 2005

    /QUOTE/ Too many people have assumed the “what” and moved on to the “how.” /UNQUOTE/ Excellent point. That is selling, NOT marketing.

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  • dreamer
    November 17, 2005

    great site… ive checked out most of your content and links.
    you are a clear and well reasoned thinker / communicator. your work is excellent… keep at it… we need you to do what you do for the sake of the gospel ;)
    a thought:
    in the coming years i believe the church collective is going to invest into and develop what will be known as the greatest show on earth… it will be something far beyond anything we can even dream of right now… yet its not too far away…
    its inevitable… we are stewards of the greatest story ever told… a living story of truth… and its our duty to tell it using sight and sound…
    the story has been told via mouth (spoken word) and hand (written word) but inevitably it will be seen (eyes)…
    think about it…
    hyper creativity + holy spirit activity = kaabooommmm
    the greatest show on earth is born… and told through sight and sound
    i am talking about the church being the first to market with what is today defined as advanced audio and visual theory…
    you think hollywood has the corner on hyper creativity? wait till the church takes communicating its message seriously…
    like i said… kaaabbbooommmmmm

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  • kristen
    December 28, 2005

    haha i seriously cant believe someone bashed the domain name because of the word “sucks”. it takes a lot of me to not get upset at peoeple like that, because those are the people trapped in a christian bubble and who most likely arent worried about people out side of the church rather than looking good to those inside.
    im a webdesign student and in the process of starting a church with some friends, and i think this site is a good thing. i like the domain name. it took me a few minutes to fully understand where you were coming from and what you were trying to say, but as i read through some of the articles, i think i got the majority of the message.
    it makes me embarassed to see christians so quick to be negative and tear someones outreach methods down, like some of the comments above. when was the last time someone said “i love you, brother..sister… for what youre doing”, and allow GOD to weed out the ungodly parts of a ministry. if we shot down every outreach that had flaws, we would be tearing each other apart (as christians)… oh wait, we pretty much already are. so i’m changing that, and saying… i love you guys, and i applaud what youre doing. dont let high-and-mighty people bring you down.

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  • Link
    December 29, 2005

    I have begun to notice how common ‘branding’ is in church programs. Our church’s children’s program is called ‘The Rock.’ We have T-shirts printed up. The youth group is called ‘Ignition.’ The church has a brand name. The ‘teaching elder’ keeps referring to it over and over again in our sermons. Why should I associate myself with a brand name church and not with the body of Christ in my city?

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  • Norman Prather
    January 3, 2006

    Thank you for explaining your view on marketing. I don’t buy it, but I wish I could. For me, and perhaps most of us, marketing is too tightly bound with “advertising.” It would probably be better to simply through out the term and start over.

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  • ernie
    January 13, 2006

    If the church’s mandate is to proclaim the gospel, even if it brings upon itself persecution and suffering (strong New Testament realities), then how does marketing fit into this?
    If the gospel of a dying and rising God is either a stumbling block or an offence, why do we believe that the church’s role is to, “… [Make] things go more smoothly?” in the delivery of that proclamation? Are we trying to be faithful or are we trying to be successful?
    Marketing: The act or process of buying and selling in a market.
    The commercial functions involved in transferring goods from producer to consumer.
    C.S. Lewis suggests that if your initial terms/definitions are foggy then so goes your argument. “Marketing” the gospel seems to me to be on the same level as the Emperor Nero setting-up a Christian widows’ and orphans’ fund – nonsensical.
    Kierkegaard has said that communicating the gospel is not so much about persuading a people who are in ignorance as it is proclaiming to a people who are in rebellion.
    Jesus himself said that even if someone were to be raised from the dead (now that’s marketing!) people will still refuse to believe. And he was right.

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  • Norman Prather
    January 15, 2006

    After thinking on this some more. I’m goint to revisit this issue for myself.
    Still tend to think of marketing as “necessary evil.” But that may be the last bit of anti marketing bigotry in my soul.

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  • Excellent Marketing
    February 2, 2006

    Christianity wouldn’t even exist without its excellent marketing! Christians are fabulous marketers: just look at how they dominate the four P’s –
    PRODUCTS: They invented more and better commercial products(like Christmas and Easter) to annihilate competition from other religions.
    PLACES: They create lavish places of worship to take working class masses away from their ordinary lives.
    PRICE: Churches hook clients in with “free” price points…and use hard-hitting psychological techniques to get phenomenal back-end donations.
    PROMOTIONS: The word of God is printed, spoken, and chanted just about everywhere (never mind separation of Church and State!)
    If the majority of churches have poorly designed newsletters that seem too folksy for slick marketers…so what? That “aw-shucks, we’re just poor church folks who don’t know much about business” approach to design is backed by powerful strategy…one that gets its message across — tax free — to hundreds of millions of people every day.
    Now that’s powerful marketing!
    In fact, an overly slick design would put off a lot of prospects, who want to believe that their donations are going to help the poor, not Madison Avenue ad execs and fancy design firms!

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  • chris
    February 3, 2006

    The key to marketing is making a lasting impression – something one will never forget. I think “churchmarketingsucks.com” fits the bill.

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  • slyypper
    February 12, 2006

    As a Unitarian-Universalist, I read Excellent Marketing’s tongue-in-cheek (?) posting with more than a little interest.
    Christian-stained thought so dominates our culture that one does have to wonder why marketing is even needed at this point. I think that part (and only part) of the answer is, obviously, that when you can pick up the theology and the culture just about anywhere, why make the extra effort on a Sunday to get out of bed?
    From postings here, I would venture a guess that Christian marketing as currently practiced is not about spreading the Gospel but about getting the butts into the pews. I agree with the commenters here who point out that marketing can serve a more elevated mission, focusing on message and not just on numbers. The Unitarian Universalist Association has developed a campaign for use by its member congregations http://tinyurl.com/73uvg which emphasizes that the most effective marketing campaign grows from within the organization itself.

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  • lonely girl
    February 13, 2006


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  • Norman Prather
    February 14, 2006

    Hmmm, this picked up some more comments. I still don’t like “marketing” it will probably always be linked to salespeople in my mind. (That’s not a good thing. I run from salespeople.) This strongly negative instinctive response is very common among the people I serve. It becomes very important that “church marketing” NOT look like marketing.
    However it is abundantly clear the church as largely abandoned it’s earlier (say about 1500 years ago) efforts to get the message out. I still haven’t figured out how to present the Gospel in new and relevant ways to people in post-christian (even though they don’t admit it) economically depressed, population drained rural areas. NTP

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  • eric b
    February 15, 2006

    wow. you holier-than-thous need to take a seat. coming from a guy who got saved in his mid-twenties (seven short years ago,) i absolutely agree with the thought that most church marketing does suck. i hated christians before i became one, simply because many are so preachy – just like a lot of our posters here in this topic.

    For those of you who can’t stand this website, its domain name, or its take on marketing, you may leave now. You’re exactly the reason it took me more than twenty years to decide that Christians do not accurately represent Christ. You haters are the precise reason that it’s so difficult to get people to come to church in the first place. People don’t come to church because they don’t want to be judged by you, and they have a valid point.

    Get off your high horse, stop complaining and whining, and notice – notice the people around you who are lost, hurting, and have been wounded – especially those who have been wounded by the church! Humble yourselves, and stop trying to fix everyone’s issues so that they can come to your church, and instead just reach out, try to help out, and don’t be such a butt monkey. :)

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  • harry
    February 17, 2006

    Ouch eric b! – you should practise what you preach – that is don’t preach. As for judging others – you seem to be doing alot of it in your post, aren’t you? The point is not if you don’t like marketing you can leave the site (as you suggest), but rather if you don’t want critisim of the marketing sucks ideas then don’t set up an Internet platform where the whole world can see it – duh! :) – hope you can chill out and allow free discussion about this issue for all those involved – both supporters and detractors – That’s the spirit of the Internet and incidently also the spirit of a Christian community not hung-up on crusading over incidentals but simply dialoguing over them.

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  • beth
    February 27, 2006

    Being new as a Communcations Director at my church, I have done a lot of thinking on this topic of church “marketing.” I definitely understand those of you who simply don’t like the term because of its cultural connotations, but I urge you to reconsider.
    The truth is that marketing works in our culture–in fact, it works in some crazy ways! But honestly, the world knows what it’s doing when it comes to marketing, and for too long, the Church has not known what it’s doing. We’ve been stuck in this mode of thinking that using marketing in our churches means that we are being “of the world”; therefore, most churches have been embarrassingly lame and irrelevant to anyone who has not grown up there.
    Marketing is not “selling” the gospel; it’s presenting it in ways that people connect with and are attracted to. Think of a movie you’ve never seen. You decide whether or not you want to see it primarily based on the previews you see. If the movie industry does a poor job of presenting the plot and intrigue of the movie, people aren’t interested in heading to the theater. If people think Jesus or going to church is irrelevant to their lives, they’re not going to try it, so we need to think clearly about how to tell them the truth–that it is the only thing truly relevant to their lives.
    Thinking through the most effective way of presenting Jesus and his church to the world is not selling out; it’s using the wisdom God gave us for his glory and the growth of his kingdom. If the church isn’t willing to do things as well as world does them, I’d say we’re selling ourselves short, not selling out.

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  • tonyb
    March 1, 2006

    Your remarks are fine as they stand – that is within the framework of assumptions which accept marketing formula/rhetoric as being “ok”. But you and many others are missing the whole point about marketing and the church – you still remain in your marketing box.
    Since it is not a neutral technique but rather brings to bear its own broad base of cultural assumptions to the mandate of the church, then questions about marketing (such as what are those assumptions and what is their relation to the assumptions that scripture makes about the gospel and its delivery/acceptance), need to be addressed with rigor and discernment.
    The truth is that, in the many church marketing books I have read, this exercise has been poorly conducted, in fact in some cases simply glossed over with superficial anecdotes from the words of Jesus or other biblical situations. Both Jesus and Paul challenged the cultural norms and ways of doing things in their day in the light of the new “culture” coming into existence through the Kingdom of God.
    If the church is a sign, a foretaste and a herald of this new Kingdom and its culture, then you marketers must take more seriously whether or not using these marketing tools may in fact be contributing to the church’s support, not of something new and relevent, but rather of status quo (since this is how the world does things anyways as even you observe).
    Is it possible that, in your success/relevance mentality, you are then guilty of trying to put old wine (marketing tools) in a new wineskin (the New Kingdom). I think you will eventually find them a poor match, and your bubble will burst.
    The bad news is that, in the course of your marketing adaptation, you will have altered the very nature and calling of the church. In this case it will not be so much a matter of selling out or selling short but selling counterfeit – how unfortunate.

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  • Dan
    March 11, 2006

    I see from the comments that the overall significance of relating the gospel in a creative an compelling way is is a foreign concept to many in the church world. The continual usage of antiquated ideas, methods, and philosophies is doing a far better job of euthanizing christianity than any satanic onslaught. I like your title–I think it relates the reality that most churches and believers don’t have a clue about promoting the gospel. They read books, attend conferences, attend seminars and preach messages about promoting the gospel but never actually answer the questions that need to be answered. How do we make Jesus relate to people today? How do we really measure the success of a local church? I am saddend at how many chureches are floundering to survive, simply because they are out of touch with the world around them. The gospel never changes, but our marketing strategies must if the Church of Jesus Christ is to make a lasting impact in our world. Rock on dude!

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  • djlight
    March 20, 2006

    The “world” is marketing itself VERY well….and the youth are paying attention. If the “Church” does not do something, we will lose the next few generations. “Secular” companies are spending millions to get their products out there. The Christian community needs to step it up so that we are relevant to today’s world.
    As far as the name of this website. I think it is brilliant. It is what made me come to this site. :)
    //djlight (from The Ultrasonics)

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  • James
    March 28, 2006

    WOW! I am impressed by the passion with which everyone has taken their respective stand. It is my humble opinion that less rhetoric and more balance may be called for.
    There are many wonderful principles within this site presented thoughtfully and with significant spiritual and professional credential. Even so, while I believe that shock value and in-your-face can be positive– even necessary at times (Jesus was shocking and anti-religious in the eyes of most), this is not a site aimed at convincing lost people that Christ is the way. It is a site designed to engage the church in thinking or rethinking how we manage the way that the lost see Christ’s body and receive our message.
    I would love to use this site as a point of reference and offer it as a quality tool for churches and church leaders when I guest speak on evangelism and promotional strategies. Though I am in no way offended by it personally, the name of the site, by illiciting strong and sometimes very negative reaction, may exclude the individuals that most need to embrace a new way of thinking about these issues. This is not effective marketing. I am always hesitent and choose not to share this site with many of the church leaders with whom I speak solely because of the name. It is a great example of cultural relevence and “in-your-face” strategy. Nevertheless, it is the portal through which you must pass to access this potentially very helpful site. Many people will never pass through it because it stands firmly on the line of their conviction about such language. It is not a line that we should force them to cross in order to gain access to the valuable insight and tools within this site.
    Consequently,I agree that the church exists to serve Christ first. However, was it not Jesus who said that serving others (especially others who are hurting) was the best way that we might serve Him? We must connect hurting people with the healing/need meeting, loving service of Christ. We spend countless time, energy and resource developing programs and ministries to meet real life struggles with the head on, life giving power of the Gospel. Yet, we just wait for people to come to them because we don’t want to be like the world in the way we “sell” Christ. How silly. Jesus took Father’s love to people where they live. Good church “marketing” endeavors to do the same (following Christ’s example). The stand here is not one or the other. Find the balance.

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  • joan
    March 30, 2006

    Church and gospel marketers are barking up the wrong tree – they are trying to psychologically “sell”, as it were, a relevent, meaningful Gospel package that neither Paul or Jesus showed any interest in doing – despite attempts to baptise them as such through very poor hermeneutics and forced isogeting of Bible texts. How silly. There is a difference between the proclamtion of a gospel message and the marketing of same. The latter is not a subset of the former. One tells the other sells.
    The realities behind the life-changing encounter between a soul and God and the resulting death-to-self that you Christians talk about, as well as the very possible dark night of the soul that results, should not be sold or pleasantly packaged – it cannot be sold – you are selling something else – that’s deceitful. Those who aren’t Christian will call you up on it … I am. The truth will set you free, you tell others – then just tell it and don’t try to sell it.

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  • Dave
    May 1, 2006

    Marketing (if done correctly) should be about positioning something correctly for a targeted audience. The motivation should be to benefit the customer. If we presented the Gospel like this every time, we’d have no arguments!

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  • bjd
    May 17, 2006

    In response to the URL name concerns, it may be helpful to know that this site exists at churchmarketingstinks.com as well.

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  • Alex
    June 23, 2006

    How about this.
    1 – if you dont think church marketnig is “biblically correct”, dont read this. Go back go google and find something else.
    2 – “sucks”: get over it. stop wasting webserver bytes by blabbing on about how the word ‘sucks’ isnt ‘biblically correct’. Read the content of the website…
    there are greater things in this world to worry about than the URL of a website having the words “sucks” in it. like i said…you dont like it, hit google.
    its true…church marketing DOES suck! have you not noticed the word art and clip art on almost every church website you look at? Or how about the fact that some churches names, values and logos in no way reflect christ? I know a church that cant keep an ‘identity’ for more than a year, simply because they dont believe in the ‘identities’ people create for them. Churck marketing does suck (and for all you oldies…suck isnt a profanity. it is a completely legitimate way of explaining something).
    so…the point of all this? If you dont like it get over it, or go away.

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  • Shaun
    July 12, 2006

    WOW! Can I just say how much I have enjoyed reading through all of these comments?! Regardless of how you think or feel about the topic, the creators of the site are doing one thing right — getting you to talk about Christ!
    I’m amazed how strongly people can get bent out of shape over hearing something like the word “sucks,” yet they forget how much of Jesus’ teachings were considered scandalous in His time and place…or Paul, loud-mouthed, in-your-face Paul!
    We are called as Christians to be different than the rest of the world, to make people turn their heads away from societal norms…how can you do that if you worry about “offending” people. How many people were offended in the days of the early church? Look at what the apostles and early leaders of “the way” endured for the sake of their message and “marketing strategy” of getting out the Gospel…i hardly think a site that causes you to step back for a second and think about yourself, your faith, or your relationship with Christ and how to share it with others is going in any way against scripture.
    Chill. Learn to connect with the outside world, then bring them in to something dramatically different. We’ve got way more than Hollywood and the local box office…wouldn’t it be nice to get the return rate they have?
    Blessings to you on this dynamic and creative ministry!

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  • old_gentleman
    July 18, 2006

    When I speak to people about Jesus, The heartbreaking comment I hear the most is “people in the church are hypocrites”. What hurts the most about the comment is that it’s true. It’s one of the signs of our time. What we know about it is that it will only get worse as the time of Christ’s return draws closer. I mention this, not to critisize in any way, but only to make a point. I’m not really sure what is meant here by the word “marketing”. It may mean different things to different people. For some reason I’m not comfortable using it when speaking about Christ or His Church. It carries with it, in my mind at least, an image of big business, money, and stretching the truth, things I don’t believe that Jesus Christ or His Church are about. I suppose that even talking about Jesus to someone, or passing out a tract, or even preaching could be considered “marketing” by some. If this is what you mean then the best “marketing” a church can do doesn’t involve bilboards, or advertisements, or even tracts, but the lives of those who go there. People know the real deal when they see it and no other kind of “marketing” will work if they don’t feel loved. When I tell others about the church I go to, I just tell them who Jesus is, that He’s invited us both for supper, where the meal will be, and where I’ll be dining. Then I give them a hug. I figure that, if they accept the invitation, Jesus Christ will speak for himself.

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  • Matt Holley
    September 18, 2006

    I find it rather comical how upset people are getting at the domain name of this site. I think it’s brilliant! Church marketing does suck in general. There are very few who actually get it. By few I mean in percentage amounts only, because I know there are more than a “few” who get it. I laughed out loud at the comment made about using vulgarity. Suck is not a vulgar word, and for that person’s mind to automatically go to the sexual reference means he/she has more problems than a domain name. I appreciate all this site represents and the goals and aspiration at which it was developed. Keep up the good work!

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  • Laura Grace
    September 30, 2006

    Well, Matt, you hit the nail on the head; those of us who grew up in the 60s/70s definitely have a “context” to deal with as far as the word “suck” goes. As my teenagers began to use it more & more, I cringed, I criticized… then I looked deeper and found that “suck” has become just another generic derogatory term.
    So to the person who gave us the rather specific “definition”: look it up in the dictionary, there may just be other uses for this word.
    And although I think my generation may have the claim for giving it it’s sexual connotation, I don’t think most people under 40 even give it a 2nd thought.
    my 2 cents… (another archaic saying…)
    and yes, I was taken aback by the URL also, it’s not my favorite, but I don’t see it as something to get in a lather about. It’s not blasphemy; it’s just (or was) crude.

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  • shaunzilla
    November 15, 2006

    This is great! As for “sucks,” remember when Paul told those who favored circumcision to go emasculate themselves? Or when he used the greek word for our modern day cuss of s-h-eye-tee? And remember when Paul wanted to go to Rome to make the gospel all things to all men, and from Rome then it would travel to the whole world? Sounds like marketing to me . . . But I love everyone sharing his or her opinions. Anyway you slice it, people will go home and try and make better church bulletins. Cya later clip art!

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  • evaregina
    December 11, 2006

    I confess i haven’t yet seen much of the site, but this comment page suggests it lives up to its provocative name.
    The comment by old_gentleman prompted me to add my proverbial two cents:
    The truth is that the Church *is* “marketing” itself, whether we want to admit it or not. Whenever we do whatever we do to get a message to the community around us, we are doing the think that academia and corporations have designated “marketing.”
    The point here seems to be that we need to become better thinkers regarding what our means of messaging is ACTUALLY communicating. Jesus is the Living Word, not frozen in one version of Webster’s Dictionary of American English or Microsoft Word 1.0.
    If we LOVE the world to whom we are speaking, then we will pay attention to what that world listens to. In the same way, Paul paid attention to Athens and referred to their ubiquitous poems “to an unknown god” in his teaching.
    i’m sure i’e not covered all the angles on this. so go ahead. shoot me down!

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  • ccombs
    February 27, 2007

    Bless you for this site. I’ve spent hours with my pastor discussing how to ‘make diciples’. I am frustrated with the common tools used today and decided to look for something ‘different’. I am not a professional marketer, just a believer trying to do as Jesus commanded. I have come to this site to learn how to communicate the message of Jesus Christ effectively in today’s world. I’ve read through the above comments and IMHO, putting butts in the pews is a by-product of saving souls.
    Also regarding the name of this site – when I saw the word sucks in the title, I thought of my vacuum. The name for this site is totally appropriate – Most current church marketing appears to have been developed in a vacuum with no outside influence whatsoever.
    Grace be with you, and peace

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  • junaid
    April 4, 2007

    I am in business of Textile Machinery. So i want to get progress in marketing of Machineries at higher level.

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  • mobileziggy
    June 26, 2007

    …when i think of church marketing (or fleecing)i think of “Christian Book Stores”…i understand reasonable business practices, and 350% margins are a bit over the line…with Amazon and other resources available, it seems they’re targeting their own feet

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  • KiwiMedia
    September 20, 2007

    Love what you are doing. I can’t believe so many people take it the wrong way. Its all about effective communication, and not just tryng to make a noise out in the world. This is the way we should be thinking. I don’t always like the way people market their churches because it makes it more about people worshipping their church and not God. But done correctly we can attract people and have them in a close relationship with God. I think if we constantly apply these sort of questions it deepens our own relationship with Christ, rather than it being something we just do because we thinks its good!

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  • bryan
    January 29, 2008

    I have come to the conclusion that most everything in the Christian world sucks. We are always a few steps behind. Our graphics suck, our movies suck, our music sucks, our tv shows suck, our websites suck, our clothing sucks. I could go on all day about specific things in the Christian culture that suck. However, I am not here to bash on it, but to help others understand that we, as Christians, need to be excellent in all we do. I believe whole-heartedly that this site exists for the same reason. Almost every type of communication that comes out of the Christian culture is boring and mundane. We are called, as Christians, to represent Christ (Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus..”)
    Stop making horrible designs, lame movies, boring music, cheesy slogans and awful website. Don’t know how? READ THIS SITE. This site serves as a means to understand how to not be lame, and take back our duty to lead by example and in excellence.

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  • bryan
    January 29, 2008

    I have come to the conclusion that most everything in the Christian world sucks. We are always a few steps behind. Our graphics suck, our movies suck, our music sucks, our tv shows suck, our websites suck, our clothing sucks. I could go on all day about specific things in the Christian culture that suck. However, I am not here to bash on it, but to help others understand that we, as Christians, need to be excellent in all we do. I believe whole-heartedly that this site exists for the same reason. Almost every type of communication that comes out of the Christian culture is boring and mundane. We are called, as Christians, to represent Christ (Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus..”)
    Stop making horrible designs, lame movies, boring music, cheesy slogans and awful website. Don’t know how? READ THIS SITE. This site serves as a means to understand how to not be lame, and take back our duty to lead by example and in excellence.

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  • Cornelius
    February 5, 2008

    I have translated this article into german. http://cor.neli.us/index.php/2008/02/05/was-ist-marketing/

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  • peter
    May 31, 2008

    Hey guys, wonderful ideas and wisdom. We appreciate that you are taking the lead with something that is so amazingly needed. This has been on my heart for years.
    I cannot remember exactly where it was on your site, but you made it clear that the core of your vision is to “connect people.” THAT’S THE WHOLE BALLGAME WITH MARKETING IN THE CHURH! We simply must learn to leverage cutting edge techniques that currently exist (IE: twitter, etc) in order to connect, communicate, and love one another.
    In the end, so much of loving others is communicating — and communicating well.
    Please: be encouraged. You are on the edge of something the Spirit is doing!

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  • Erin
    November 26, 2008

    This is no one outside the church takes it seriously. Bickering and arguing about things that don’t matter while people are dying in the streets. Be like Jesus, roll up your sleeves, shut up and get to work. If this site was catchy enough to get you to stop and read, it has proven the point that the marketing strategy put forth works. Love this site. It’s helpful, well organized and helps those who want to make a real difference. Thank you for your efforts.

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  • Rebecca
    December 2, 2008

    In a world inundated with sexual connotations that, no doubt, steer even the well-disciplined mind/heart away from Godliness….why do we think we can use such jargon to network with church leaders who are not also affected/weakened in their minds by the same connotation you are providing here? Your shock treatment verbiage, covered up by a vacuum icon, no doubt exposes personal frustration and distaste of the current operations….but even in God’s frustration with us as humans, He doesn’t use foul language or coarse picture words to get His point across to us. God never loses His holiness (maybe His anger on occasion) to make His point across this earth. There ARE other ways! I’m thinking about those dear sons who have been exposed to pornography or whatever, now clean and doing ministry, finding themselves in the battle constantly resisting such picture words, only to network here and have to fight harder even amongst Christian brethren who should be a clean, stable source. Your name is a stumbling block and I’m ‘in your face’ as honest as I can be about it. If you’re going to be Christian, meaning the Word is your standard of living and doing business, then don’t talk like the world trying to reach leaders in the church. Your site has some awesome material that needs to reach more than just the leaders willing/able to turn their heads to your coarse jesting to receive it. I’m just as serious as anyone about releasing people in their creativity and effectiveness for ministry worldwide in every culture; but there is no acceptable substitute to the Bible as our standard. I suggest a name such as Church Marketing Rocks…..I’m sure there are numerous other options/possibilities less offensive. I want to live my life disturbed by what disturbs God and truly make a difference. I know down deep you do, too!

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  • Linas Sablovskis
    December 11, 2008

    That which is not measured cannot be improved.

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  • lovemy3dudes
    December 16, 2008

    if anyone has a problem with the wording of this blog, then talk to some people under 20 years old for a while. We are not preaching or provoking the crowd of the 90’s anymore people…….
    I LOVE this site…bring it on :)

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  • Marketing
    February 23, 2009

    Well I thing marketing problem is which is not measured cannot be improved.

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  • tim
    February 23, 2009

    This is indeed an interesting subject andhere is my 2 cents..
    church marketing can suck.
    But if God is in the midst of this and the leaders elders, shepherds, minsiters youth workers, believe God is calling them to try a new method approach why should I judge them?
    Love the sinner hate the sin.
    I say use the other “P’ s of christianity
    1. the power of the cross
    2. the power of prayer
    3. the power fellowship
    remember Gos has saved us and called us..
    Each person had a different calling find it and do this

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  • Zoe
    May 27, 2009

    This argument about marketing reminds me of the age old argument about whether one needs to be trained or educated in the Bible before beginning to preach.
    No preacher needs to be educated in the Bible…unless he wants others to listen to what he has to say.

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  • jeff hicks
    June 5, 2009

    I Pastor a small church (60 members) in Seattle. We opened our doors in October of 09 and want to market our church to our community. We are adding a video link to our website http://www.christsheritagechurch.org and want to reach our area with the message of this neat missional church. We feel we need to enlist a company to guide us through this, do you have any ideas?

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  • Kendra
    February 18, 2010

    Reading all of these comments of who should hold first place in the ‘I am write because I said so and Jesus thinks so too’ comment war – does bring some humor to my day.
    Speaking of war – which we are in must I remind all of you – a war to win souls – our opponent ‘The World’ – they do nothing to ‘soften’ or ‘lower’ their voices in their marketing – why should we, if we stay the way – we will never be heard – and people are needing Jesus – badly!
    Should we lower our standards and rebel against scripture? No – not at all. But we can very much be in peoples face (not in a condemning way) but a way that brings love and a Savor to their life.
    My motto for life is this
    “I dont mind stepping on peoples toes, because its a lot better then them being burned off over and over in hell for all of eternity”
    But the awesome thing about humans – is everyone has an opinion – which can be super frustration at times, but it brings diversity and awesome blogs!

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  • Evan2Life
    August 11, 2010

    Can I ask advice as to how to structure our communications/design department in our church? We have three designers and a couple of video guys. We are trying to get a consistent and professional look across the board but have a couple of pastors who want to tell us all how to design and the end results are bad. How do we structure things so that they leave the designs to the professionals?

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  • Mark Holbrook
    October 10, 2010

    Just spent several minutes reading the comments going back the past five years about marketing and the church. As a marketing professional for a state historical society, I also am the marketing ministry leader for our church. I use the same approaches for both organizations. Most simply put, I try to help each department or ministry more effectively tell their story. The bottom line is this, if we are not speaking to people in a way that they can understand and is relevent to their lives, they just won’t hear us. To define marketing our churchs the same as coporations do is addressing motive – corporations market for numbers, so churchs must being doing it for the same reasons. I would contend that churchs can and should market, but with a motive of reaching out to those who feel they have nowhere to turn. Done with the right motives, church marketing is following scripture by effectively keeping our light out from under the bushel (Luke 8:16).

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  • Toni Barrier
    October 12, 2010

    I think church marketing is a necessity and that God has anointed His people to do all things with excellence. We must be Holy Spirit led so that we are on track with God and not doing our own thing. Even when it is in something as simple as a creating a website address.

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