Thinking About Churches

November 12, 2008 by

Overheard on a local college campus:

Person 1: Are churches really non-profits?

Person 2: They aren’t taxed, I’m pretty sure they are.

Person 1: Hmm… I guess I don’t ever really think about churches.

Too often, we misdiagnose our church’s problem of not reaching more people as something wrong with them, something wrong with our church or something wrong with our attenders. But there’s a much more likely scenario.

Most people just don’t think about church.

I don’t really think about mosques or temples in my city. You probably don’t think much about the penguins in Antarctica. And Average Joe doesn’t really think about the churches in their area. It’s not a felt need outside of life’s more difficult services.

People don’t wake up on Sunday and think, “I’ll go to church today!” They don’t spend Monday through Saturday in anticipation of Sunday. Church never crosses their mind, and when it does, it likely seems irrelevant.

As a church marketer, that’s your task: get people thinking about church, and convince them that it matters to them.

How are you going to do that?

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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9 Responses to “Thinking About Churches”

  • phill
    November 12, 2008

    I have said this a million times…before I met God I never really thought about God.

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  • Phil
    November 12, 2008

    “As a church marketer, that’s your task: get people thinking about church, and convince them that it matters to them.”
    I disagree
    I think it’s about time churches started to matter to their communities.
    As Marketers we’re responsible for more than just promotion. The very basics, 4 P’s – Product, Price, Place, Promotion – suggest that there’s more that we could do.
    I heard this somewhere, “if your church closed tomorrow would the people in a one block radius of the building notice?” How much of a difference to our communities do we make? Jesus came to earth and not only taught but he also healed the sick, met with politicians and criminals (who were sometimes the same people) and was involved in society. Are our churches as involved?
    If you want to make people notice your church stop inviting them in and start going out. Find the local community groups and sports teams and join in. Go as a group from your church. Get elected. Offer meals to people. Join school boards…
    I’m ranting, I should leave it there.

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  • Geoff in CT
    November 12, 2008

    I totally agree that you’ve got to be “out there” as a church.
    One word of caution: we have (particularly the mainline Protestant denominations in the Northesat) made our selves so isolated and away from the community over the past decades that it can be a long, frustrating, and discouraging task.
    Be advised: just because your church shows up to work in the community, don’t be expect to be met with open arms.
    It often helps to remember that Jesus wasn’t met with very many open arms either, and frequently with lots of hostility.

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  • Eric Frisch
    November 12, 2008

    I think we need to start taking some of the focus off of Sunday morning and start working on worship as a lifestyle. Those of us in the church put a huge priority on Sunday morning and work tirelessly at creating these great experiences, but as conversations like this one show, that’s not where the rest of the world is. We owe it to folks like them (and frankly to our own members as well) to keep Christ visible in our communities throughout the week, and not just on Sundays.

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  • ryan fitzgerald
    November 12, 2008

    love it.
    when i work with churches the biggest thing that is hard to get through to church staffs is people don’t think about your church.
    and if you want to pretend they do remember it is no where close to how much you do.

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  • Paul Riggs
    November 12, 2008

    People will think of church when the church moves through the community. Phil’s comments above are great.
    As budding Church botanists, the first question we are asking as a team is, where in the community is God already moving (be it through a Christian non-profit or not), and how can we get in on what God is already doing?

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  • Phil
    November 13, 2008

    Geoff, I agree that Jesus very often wasn’t met with open arms, but he kept on doing what he was doing.
    It’s easy to think that when we are met with hostility we should immediately walk away. Maybe instead we should show some perseverance, love the unloved and show some compassion for people who can only show hate to us. Maybe we can teach them how to love?

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  • Brice Bohrer
    November 13, 2008

    I don’t know. I don’t care a rip if people think about the church. I want them to think about God. Know him and enjoy him forever.
    I don’t even think it is all community involvement stuff either. I don’t know God better because my church is “involved” with the local sports team.

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  • David (Marketing Integrity)
    November 15, 2008

    You are right on Cody. People don’t think about church. As church marketers we have a big job. Seth Godin in his book Tribes says marketing is the act of telling stories. Churches need to use marketing to help their members tell the story of Jesus better to the people that are in their sphere of influence. We need to give them the tools to share that story and invite people to meet Jesus. Non-church people will seldom think of looking for hope or purpose in life by going to church on their own. We need to get out there and tell them the story!

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