Power to the Pews: Guerrilla Church Marketing

Power to the Pews: Guerrilla Church Marketing

May 7, 2012 by

Our premise has always been that church marketing sucks and it needs to be better. How your church communicates really matters. But much of what we talk about goes to pastors, communication directors, marketing teams and volunteers. Sometimes those folks are too busy, too slow, too jaded or too non-existent (having a communications director is a rare luxury).

It’s time for the person in the pew to take action. It’s time for you to get up and help your church communicate better. It’s time to do some guerrilla church marketing.

This series will explore ways to market your church for the person who isn’t on the communication team. Think of it as a street team for your church, a way to come alongside and help. Or maybe your church doesn’t even have a communications team, but these are some ways you can step up and fill the gap.

Some of these ideas might even be a little, well, guerrilla. We definitely don’t mean to undermine church communication teams or leadership. We hope these can be ways the people in the pews can come alongside and help their church do a little more. But sometimes churches are stubborn and you just have to go ahead and do something a little unorthodox. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission (and in some churches, that’s the only way anything gets done). Red tape shouldn’t hinder the gospel.

Guerrilla warfare is quick, dirty and powered by the people. It’s coordinated, passionate and highly effective. Guerilla church marketing can accomplish the same goals, whether you’re fighting alongside the official army or standing in for one that doesn’t exist. The enemy is lame communication (not your pastor!). The victory is sharing the gospel.

You don’t need a committee to tell you how to talk about your church. And you don’t need your pastor to approve your Sunday morning tweets. It’s your church–if the communication sucks, it’s time to make some noise and do it right.

Read more in our Power to the Pews series:

Photo by Mr. T in DC
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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11 Responses to “Power to the Pews: Guerrilla Church Marketing”

  • brad
    May 8, 2012

    What I’ve come to realise is that while empowering other people to communicate can be messy, it is essential to illuminate the discrepancies that exist. Getting other people to communicate is the only way to reveal where there are disconnects, and thus which areas leaders need to direct with more clarity, or at least where more intentional conversations need to be had.

    Additionally, there is the phenomenon that people are appropriately excited by different stories, or different facets of the same story, and without a multitude of voices, we cannot all share in the fullest way possible. Any effective church communication strategy, in my opinion, should deploy and empower a whole bunch of storytellers.

    I’m not sure I’d present it as “guerrilla” in my context(s), but I get and agree with the sentiment. :-)

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  • Curtis
    May 8, 2012

    “We definitely don’t mean to undermine church communication teams or leadership. ”

    Why not? Because they are your main readers? I believe our God is a disruptive God, often undermining our assumptions of what is or should be. God speaks through people, not through communication teams and church leadership. If that causes some undermining, that is what God wants.

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    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      May 10, 2012

      Aren’t we told to respect and submit to our leaders?

      Christianity is not a rebel’s game where you can do whatever you want. God created pastors and leaders and elders for a reason. Are they perfect? No. But they are the leadership we have.

      Besides, undermining the communications work your church is already doing is just going to lead to a mess. If you’re not helping, you’re hurting.

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  • aragamuffin
    May 9, 2012

    First Wesleyan – Bartlesville OK – Pastor Joe Colaw walks to the podium after a super uplifting time of worship with music and lights up his Ipad to begin his sermon. We’ve got it going on very strong in the 10:10 service but need to fill up the 11:30 slot. So, by folks in the 10:10 tweeting and fbing I believe, as you suggest, we can get that service filled up as well!
    Regardless how we as ministers of the gospel get it done we must get the Word out to all who will listen…

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  • Greg Kamback
    May 10, 2012

    I like this strategy: Rather than pre-approving communications, just let/encourage people in the congregation do it. Deal with it later if there are problems. Otherwise nothing will happen.

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    • Jon K
      May 16, 2012

      “I like this strategy: Rather than pre-approving communications, just let/encourage people in the congregation do it. Deal with it later if there are problems. Otherwise nothing will happen.” – AGREED and couldn’t agree more to the ‘otherwise nothing will happen’ piece.

      People have always talked amongst themselves concerning their church and faith. Tech options are a new extension of that communication and people should share their experiences and thoughts on their church and experience.

      If we wait on our leadership to provide a system to do this then we will as the church usually does, fail by being too late.

      Cooperation and authenticity is key with church tech communications. Let people share how God has touched them in the way and words they feel led to use in sharing.

      Good discussion on this. Keep it going.

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  • T. D.
    May 16, 2012

    I agree with Kevin Hendricks…guerilla marketing sucks…punn intended. While I definitely appreciate the go-getter who wants to force things to happen, oftentimes (most of the time), we end up having to clean up some pretty big messes. The intent is typically good, but is always done from a tunnel-vision view (kind of like the group who decided to come into our office after-hours and take letterhead so they could mail their own letters…letters full of typos for an event that was in conflict with another event we already had on the calendar…)

    Yes, sometimes working through the red tape can be VERY frustrating, but what are we teaching about leadership if it’s ok to do whatever you want if what’s happening isn’t in line with what you want – would you do that at your job? Why is that ok at church? I much rather appreciate someone who is passionate about something and works through the channels in existence to try to effect change. Sure, vinegar will work, but it goes down much smoother when it’s honey.

    We have a young lady who is a member of our church and has her own marketing business. She noticed our posts were sporadic on our fb and twitter accounts and that we didn’t have very many ‘likes’…so she approached the church and offered to manage our facebook and twitter account for 90 days as a trial.

    She puts her list of tweets/fb posts a week in advance in a spreadsheet to let us know what she’d like to say and when, we review them and give her approval to make her posts (it’s rare that we change what she’s submitted – unless it’s to add something about an upcoming event). Some of the posts are general thoughts that she created, others are specific to events going on around the church. This is what I like…when members see a need, and offer to work with the office to meet the need…not see a need, have a tantrum because it’s not going their way and exhibit either aggressive or passive aggressive behavior that gets us all nowhere.

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  • Rick DLR
    May 23, 2012

    If things are done under the banner of church Vision statement that should help guide was is said and done

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  • Minister Yorba Linda
    May 29, 2012

    I believe the communication work done by churches are good enough. Our senior ministers communicate the message very well and we have no reasons to doubt them and try to do anything unusual.

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  • AnnRenee
    July 29, 2014

    I completely agree with T.D. Everyone is going to think everything they think of is great. All communications will reflect, favorably or poorly, on the church and its leadership. Learn the proper channels. Respecting authority is great; it is God gift to protect our lives!

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