It’s Your Church, Now Act Like It

July 26, 2004 by

KFCThe building where I work is two miles from the heart of downtown Los Angeles, and from the windows in my office, I can see the entire city skyline. This is especially unimpressive after living in the Chicago area and being to New York City on many occasions, not to mention several other large cities around the world. Los Angeles just doesn’t compare to the grandness of urban planning like most of the world cities in its class. This is not a new conversation or frustration; many have opined for many years on this issue.

My reaction to the criticism of downtown Los Angeles was met with a mixture of anticipation and exhilaration. Old buildings are being renovated into apartments, once famous hotels are now upscale condos. Los Angeles is on the path to becoming…

That’s just it; what is it becoming? In a city where “wannabe” and “just like” are the modus operandi for a culture drowning in its own self-interest, what will a new downtown really do?

I think we’re too busy trying to be something we are not.

When it comes to telling others about your church, what are you saying? Do you tell people what you wish your church would be? Do you tell people what they wish your church would be? When will the tag line on your bulletin actually reflect what your church is about? If your church regularly has a special anointing for the Holy Spirit to move—with all its messiness and uncomfortable spirituality—quit toning it down to reach someone who won’t understand. People know genuineness when they see it. If your church does drama and media presentations really well, but people are not responding, quit wasting precious resources on methods that might not work for your church. Just because you can get a good deal on a video projector with cool vignettes to show in your services, doesn’t mean more people will respond.

Be who you are. Let the church be who it should be. And don’t try and promote the church until you’ve figured that out. KFC recently learned this same lesson and it would behoove you to do the same.

As for me, I’m going to continue watching out my window as Los Angeles learns an expensive lesson in becoming and being something it is not.

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. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Miró.
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10 Responses to “It’s Your Church, Now Act Like It”

  • brand1m
    March 2, 2005

    Very well said. Chuches sometimes seem to take that idea of “all things to all people” to the 10,000,000th degree. It seems like we could be so much more effective if we would focus on what we are, or what we are becoming instead of having a __________ department because the church down the street has one and look what its done for them.


  • Badger
    March 22, 2005

    My favorite example of not acting like your marketing is the now-ubiquitious “purpose statements” and “vision statements.” Thanks to some well-marketed books, many churches now have yet another committee meeting to come up with some drivel like, “First Church exists to lovingly win sinners to Christ by living his example in a Spirit-filled way.” Nothing wrong with such a statement, but it rarely describes the congregation in any way shape or form: an example of marketing what we wish we were. A more honest statement would be: “At Christ’s Church of the Beautiful Bay Valley Community Fellowship, we want to build the biggest building in the county, manage a multi-million dollar budget, have a parking lot bigger than the mall, and get our preacher to publish a book that will make him a household name in evangelical circles.” To be honest, I would rather see some truth that would reflect most churches in America: “At First Church of the Denomination, we are a church that is trying to overcome our differences and inadequacies to somehow reach the lost in our community because we are honestly concerned about their eternal destiny, but we’re not really sure how to do it and we often fail to show Christ’s love… but we really do love Christ and the lost.” That would be refreshing.


  • rob
    May 31, 2005

    why dont we turn our ‘marketing’ budgets into outreach and benevolence budgets?


  • Church Marketing Sucks

    After spending all morning in a church meeting where the last thing said was “maybe we need to learn how to market ourselves better,” I came home to find a new issue of Leadership, a magazine from Christianity Today, International. And the…


  • ryan
    January 10, 2006

    Marketing can be used in a great way for a local church, not just all the negative talk.. granted their are some negative things that can be focused on, we could miss the mark because of “Sucky Church Marketing”… I had a couple walk into my church this past Sunday because of our website. Now that couple has the seed planted, unsaved and married young they heard the gospel message and now know what it means to except Christ. Marketing works, you just have to focus on God nothing he is in “Sucks”.


  • tali
    February 25, 2006

    i think i’d rather be interested than interesting.


  • William
    July 19, 2006

    Hello, this is my first time to your site and I have to admit it has been a very interesting journey. I have found it to be very helpful in answering questions that I had about marketing in relation to the church. Being from a small church with martketing issues, this site has given me fresh ideas and renewed vigor in our endeavor to market successfully. Thank you and keep up the good work! jjw


  • Brian
    August 9, 2006

    Something that hit me when I read the comment earlier about “instead of having a __________ department because the church down the street has one and look what its done for them.”
    It reminded me of a saying:
    DO NOT follow in the footsteps of those before you that have succeeded, rather seek what they sought and make your own footprints. For to follow in anothers footsteps is an impossible and profitless task. You can not do what they did or walk as they walked. But you CAN seek what they sought.


  • Joseph B. Bukuru
    June 5, 2008

    I thought that I may be in contact with Ralph Neighbor; but here is what I just found this stuff.
    I am a man who is hungry and thirsty of a cell church.
    I was a pastor of a cell church in Africa, but now I am here in the Dallas/ Texas/USA; I do not find any cell church around my neighborhood.
    Churches which want to employ me are not cell churches, so I turn down their offer.
    I am frustrated for not finding any cell church I can belong to.
    I cannot fit in any other church than a cell church.


  • Bob
    December 8, 2008

    One note of appreciation. Some people, presumably coming from non-marketing backgrounds, seem to be very put off by the marketing talk that goes on at churches. I can understand that. But may I suggest much of the marketing quagmires in churches today come from people who are not marketers, and that’s why it gets off track. Was it Patton who said “war is hell”? It seems that the people who are closest to a thing are the first to see the gritty reality of it. True marketers who are following Christ don’t think marketing is all that and a bag of chips. We see its possibilities and its problems. The fawning over marketing, the worship of it, doesn’t seem to come from marketers. We simply have this thing called “marketing” and we’re good at it, and we would like to give it to Christ for his use. And it can look like a thousand different things, all in service of whatever the church needs. I think much of the confusion comes from churches being to quick to zero in on one particular application which happens to be hip (the drama/music/media thing), instead of engaging in true marketing by assessing what God wants to do through them. Marketing is simply a term that describes something that people have done for ages. Thanks for all the posts. Especially the ones reminding us of the strength of brokenness. I wonder how many people can rise from their hopelessness when they see we are the exact same as them. Sorry this droned on.



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