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Is Marketing In the Bible?

August 3, 2004 by

For all of the wisdom in the book of Proverbs, the word “marketing” is not found. Furthermore, a key word search through 18 different Bible translations returns just one finding with the word “marketing.” In The Message version, 2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.” While I am not going to insert or extract a certain theology from this one verse (not to mention one translation), it does make for some interesting arguments, especially given its context.

The bigger picture here is the word “marketing” and how it relates to today, given its non-existence in word-form (at least how we understand it now) centuries ago.

Ray L. Edwards does an interesting job attempting to argue five adcopy principles pulled right from the pages of the Bible. David T. Pope does an even better job at convincing people why churches should not be marketing themselves.

Arguments on both sides of the coin exist everywhere. Obviously, the issue of marketing the church is a hot one.

Perhaps for a moment you could take off your hat on either side of the conversation and face the reality that people need to be reached. There are people right now in your community that don’t know God. There are children without fathers, families without hope. How are you reaching them? How do they know your church exists, and what it exists for?

If you’re against creating a brochure or postcard, how about just walking the streets, talking to people? How about doing an event in the park? How about actually going to the people instead of waiting for them to come to you? The Bible has plenty to say about that.

And if you do decide to create some marketing materials, please don’t create stuff that sucks.

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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47 Responses to “Is Marketing In the Bible?”

  • John Maki
    March 30, 2005

    Love you buddy. Good stuff.
    You are the “House” of American Christianity.


  • Anthony D. Coppedge
    April 28, 2005

    Marketing: A message you want people to hear and then act upon.
    Gosh, that fits a whole lot of what we need to do in the church.
    Seems so obvious…:)


  • Ben Johnson
    October 4, 2005

    Definition of LAME:
    Searching the scriptures for word (instead of a concept) to “prove” it’s not biblical.
    Definition of DISHONEST:
    Searching the scriptures for word (instead of a concept) to “prove” it’s not biblical.


  • Jonny
    October 14, 2005

    Context is important. The word “marketing” these days is usually attatched to words such as ‘agressive’, ‘misleading’ and ‘scam’. Outreach is a word that should better describe the church. Marketing=money while outreach=people… its an important defining statement.


  • toye agunbiade
    October 19, 2005

    have being reading your intelligent archives and articles. i’m currently on the verge of launching a satellite tv channel from europe with the plan o broadcast new mindset tv programming to the europeans, africans, americans, asians etc via the satellite technology. i desire to know what could be the possibility of working together.


  • Gary
    October 28, 2005

    Marketing IS in the Bible. Its called evangelism. Its nothing more than using media and concepts to attract and convert people to Christ. Its just a tool. Jesus used parables, we use billboards.


    • Sophie
      November 2, 2010

      I was going to say the same thing! Marketing is effective communicating to people and that’s exactly what the parables did!! Telling a story!


  • Chris
    October 31, 2005

    “Marketing IS in the Bible. Its called evangelism. Its nothing more than using media and concepts to attract and convert people to Christ. Its just a tool. Jesus used parables, we use billboards.”
    No, when I think of marketing, I think of surveying the intended audience to assess what they are willing to be sold. Then, sell that product to them.
    Marketing in that sense is most certainly not in the Bible, and in fact is is condemned by the Bible. True preachers preach the Word and trust God to be faithful to apply it to the hearts of the hearers.


    • Tibor
      June 1, 2012

      Chris, you hit the point, the truth is that simple.


  • james
    November 17, 2005

    Church Marketing: where the Customer is Sovereign.
    *****
    “Ministers today are told they cannot reach people effectively without it [marketing]. . . ”
    “No longer are pastors trained to declare to people what God demands of them. Instead, they are counseled to find out what the people’s demands are, then do whatever is necessary to meet them. The audience is regarded as “sovereign,” and the wise preacher will “shape his communications according to their needs in order to receive the response he [seeks].”
    The effect of such a philosophy is apparent; more and more people-pleasers fill the pulpits of our churches. Moreover, Scripture is overruled by the marketing plan as the authoritative guide for ministry. One textbook on church marketing includes this statement: “The marketing plan is the Bible of the marketing game; everything that happens in the life of the product occurs because the plan wills it.” Applied to church ministry, that means a human strategy—not the Word of God—becomes the fountain of all church activity, and the standard by which ministry is measured.
    That approach to ministry is so obviously convoluted and so grossly unbiblical that I am amazed so many pastors are influenced by it. But it has become an extremely influential philosophy. Thousands of churches have overhauled their entire ministry and are now attempting to cater to the masses.”
    MacArthur, John. Ashamed of the Gospel : When the Church Becomes Like the World. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1993.


  • Hanno
    November 29, 2005

    Rant en dal church sOUTH aFRICA – BAD PEOPLE
    This Christian church makes banners that say – Need a miracle – come to our church and We offer Holy Spririt Inspired Preaching.
    This is not at all in line with the Christian thought and they should be expelled as a church!!!
    What do you think?


  • Linda
    January 16, 2006

    Hmmm, a fine line here:
    Good church marketing: running ads in local papers or local directories or whatever to announce services, events or news. Fine. That’s promotion, don’t hide your light under a bush.
    Bad church marketing: allying with the world’s enterprises and taking from “best practices” and applying to church promotion in a systematic way for products or simply for church popularity or growth rather than glorifying Christ. Example: selling Narnia merchandise or Discipleship Crosses or mass promoting the Purpose Driven Church books, videos, clothing and place mats for children!!!


  • Jose Gomez
    January 21, 2006

    A valid point to bring up here is that along with the word ‘marketing’ not appearing in the Bible, neither does ‘nonprofit organization’. Evangelism is the process of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. That is completely Biblical and requires no justification beyond that. However, marketing deals with the organizational side – a process that is not specifically outlined in the Word.
    In today’s Christian culture, organizations are created to house all of the resources and human capital behind a specific God-birthed effort. In order to accomplish that agenda, each organization must be responsible for the administration of that vision. This requires the organization to apply principles that any other organization would apply – from a business to a charity. This deals with finances, management, administration, and – yes – marketing.
    Marketing is an organizational component, not necessarily a ministy component. Ministry happens when individuals respond to the marketing and involve themselves in the effort. It is the process of helping people find Christ, become involved, and discover their purpose in the Body of Christ that makes it all worth while.
    What makes YOUR church the place to do that instead of the church on the other corner? Not much – just organizational marketing to attract them to your specific effort.


  • Jonathan Cheung
    January 22, 2006

    Definitely, not all names of academic disciples will appear in our BIBLE. For example, sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics could not be found in the Bible as well. Marketing is evolved from these several streams of academics and become popular in use for product marketing in the 1960s, application in services marketing and then in non-profit arena.
    However, the debate in Church marketing is never ending. My understanding is that marketing is a tool only. It could be applied to evangelization to help communicating more effectively with our target audiences. In fact, majority of pastors and christians in para-church are neutral to marketing so far it could help them in church growth, meeting needs (in poverty relief, community development)without violating the doctrine!


  • Jim McGee
    January 27, 2006

    The more you scratch, the more questions rise to the surface, which is why I enjoy this site.
    Consider the four “classical components” of marketing. As they apply to church, people continue to wrestle with all of them:
    Product – What defines a church – a group of believers meeting together? Must there be accountability? A leadership structure? Must it be self-governing, self-funding and self-propagating?
    Promotion – One of many possible examples: Proclamation or persuasion? Paul told the Corinthians that his message and preaching were not with wise and persuasive words. He also told them that knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade men.
    Price – Do we tell people that salvation is a free gift to them because Jesus paid the price, or do we tell people that following Jesus will cost them everything? How do we tell them both?
    Place (distribution) – Do we just invite people to come to us, or do we also try to take church to the people? Can church happen online without physical togetherness? Do we organize activities and groups based on lifestage, or should cross-generational togetherness trump affinity?


  • hendra
    March 6, 2006

    I believe that maybe the best kind of marketing for the church would be the one on one as in person to person. The principle is that we don’t make people come to our church but introduce them to Jesus. Once they’re convinced then the church is the “container” for them to grow and get ‘help’ but the church is nothing without the need for Lord Jesus. We can’t make people believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will speak into their hearts.


  • jazzy
    April 2, 2006

    Is it only church marketing that sucks, or is it also ‘what’ the church is marketing that sucks?
    So we’re supposed to spend considerable time/talent/money on marketing materials to ‘evangelize’ but we base our theology on a 30 second word search?! …real smooth.
    While I agree that marketing is ‘useful’ for the church, and should be done with excellence, it is ‘by no means’ close to the practice of evangelism.
    Evangelism is sacrificing the interests of the self for the interests of others.
    It is an alternative lifestyle to that which is controlled by which we participate in Christ’s death and resurection.
    Christian marketing is NOT Christian evangelism.
    More important for this site’s discussion is how to think theologically about ‘what’ we’re marketing and ‘how’ it is being marketed so that what we’re promoting isn’t a christianized version of a gap commercial.


  • chadwik
    April 5, 2006

    I believe that the Bible is clear that the church (all true believers) are the marketing campaign as you like to call it. Maybe then it is us that suck! We need to get our act together before any marketing materials will have any affect


  • Tim
    May 16, 2006

    Maybe this has been mentioned, but the root of the word, “marketing”, is ‘market’. This has more to do with buying and selling things than with evangelism. Christianity is about relationship, and only people can form relationships. It can’t be bought, sold, or marketed. The idea of ‘marketing’ chuches or Christianity is anathema to the gospel. It is a misplaced focus on mammon, which like all idolotry is rooted in self-love.


  • Chris
    May 20, 2006

    saying parables and billboards are the same shows a lack of intelligence or at least a lack of understanding.


  • Colleen
    June 15, 2006

    THANK GOD!!!!!!!! I’ve been tell people this for years and now someone gets it!!!


  • LaVondilyn
    June 25, 2006

    Ask most church pastors why they purchased the robe that they wear, or perhaps why they they purchased the pews in their church. Chances are it’s because they responded to some kind of direct mail marketing piece. Or maybe, it was word of mouth, but who ever referred them got it from a direct mail marketing piece. If it were effective for those simple things, imagine how effective it could be in growing the Body of Christ! If a postcard makes a sinner walk in, why would any church not use it? It simply makes no sense to me…


  • Geary Beeman
    July 2, 2006

    Preach the word of God and you will not need to advertise. You see many churches are really concerned with revenue raising not teaching God’s word which is what the church is supposed to do first and foremost. As to how will people know about you if you do not advertise ? Again teach the word and God WILL handle the rest.


  • Michael
    July 6, 2006

    What is the purpose of this site? Your attitude towards marketing does not seem to be founded?


  • James
    July 7, 2006

    Church Marketing….seems to be a subject everyone or no one wants to agree or disagree with. Luke 14:23 – And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. These aren’t my words; this is what our Holy Bible says to do. Tomorrow morning I have planned a community outreach. I simply typed a paged that contains our service times and events during the week, phone#, ect. Our endeavor will be to knock on doors and let our neighbors know who and where we are. I don’t see a problem with letting your surrounding community know we want “you” to be a part of our church and more importantly a part of the Christian family. Previously I read that all you have to do is preach the Word of God and God will do the rest. I only agree with that to a certain degree. Think of the person that needs a job. He prays, “Lord, I have a family and I need a job to support them”. After he prays, he goes into the living room and watches TV….ALL DAY!!! He has to DO something like go fill out applications and submit resumes. Pastors can pray that God sends people to preach to. What happened to compelling them to come in? We should not wait for people to come to the church. The church is where we come to get strength and wisdom and gain the knowledge the god has given our pastors. Then we as parishioners have all week long to go and compel them to come in. If know one knows the church is around the corner….then we’re just preaching to ourselves every week. I’m glad to say our church is where I found the Lord/the Lord found me. When a person asks where I can find the Lord, I’ll tell them right here! Whether we’re in a restaurant or grocery store, it doesn’t matter. But when they ask where I get my strength, I’ll let them know I gain strength when I meet with other Christians at my church. Is this marketing, to tell people when you enjoy going to church? I think not. Thank you for ya’lls time.


    • Student
      August 31, 2010

      You may want to revisit this scripture because this is a clear misuse!


  • Pat
    July 18, 2006

    Start at the beginning – is the ‘church’ an institution of man or God? Are we to just “assemble” together or have buildings, schedules, hymnals, children’s programs, etc? Is any of that specifically scriptural? Is any of that profitable for the Kingdom of God? Does the Spirit lead only to a “church” or to a book, person, TV show or other way to know and accept the Lord? I think Jesus comes to us in the way He deems best to reach us. If you pray and ask for His guidance and try and discern His leading, I don’t think any of this makes any difference.


  • Alice
    August 16, 2006

    Any comments on whether a church meeting place should be marketed as a “church” or something less likely to turn people away before they ever hit the door?
    Our church has finally gotten a space where we can meet other than Sunday morning and we are excited about having community outreach events, some of which will be blatantly Christian activities and others of which will be more subtle. But we are discussing whether we should say the event is at “the church” or “community center” or what we should call it so that people who may not feel comfortable in a traditional church event would still feel drawn to come. After all, WE are the church, not the building… anybody have any scriptural advice on this??


  • Aaron
    August 19, 2006

    Marketing: the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service. (m-w.com)
    I agree with many on this page that marketing is a necessity in this age. There is a fine balance that must be continuously monitored.

    People are the most important thing. They need to come to the saving knowledge of Christ, and if that comes in the form of a flyer, the internet, radio…whatever, great! Just don’t…well…SUCK at it.

    In our culture today people make instant decisions on the quality of “product” that is being distribted, by the quality of marketing.
    Whether people come to know Jesus by a personal invite or tv spot is irrelevant. What we (the chruch) do to help them “transform by the renewing of their mind” is what counts.


  • Frank Meyer
    October 7, 2006

    If you translate “marketing” as “productive image making”, the Bible is full of it.
    Aristocles, son of Ariston, aka Plato, did an original critique of the marketing mindset in the service of deceit: creating attractive but ultimately incoherent images to prompt action by target audiences. The Old Testament prophets, beginning with Moses gave an earlier critique, in everything they had to say about idol worship and its various pathologies. Since most of the readers of this site will be at least acquainted with these warnings (First Commandment, anyone?; Elijah vs prophets of Baal;the pronouncements in the Psalms and the Prophets against idols, etc,etc?), I will focus on what this less familiar character contributed to the discussion.
    The subjects of Plato’s critique were the pretenders to wisdom in his time: the sophists (private teachers proclaiming their wisdom and peddling it for pay), politicians (public teachers proclaiming their wisdom to crowds in order to accumulate power), and various other peddlers of nostrums for private and public maladies. He dealt with priests in “Euthyphro” (perhaps most directly relevant to a “church communications” focus), and with politicians and other busybodies and utopians in “The Republic”.
    The first half of book 10 of “Republic” explains the problem with generic “marketing”: it is three steps removed from “what is”, being an image of a representation of some aspect of “what is”. It may be a “true image” or it may be a clever fraud (discussed at some length in “Phaedrus”).
    If the church, the body of Christ, wishes to project beautiful images that compelingly communicate truth (the two categories, truth and beauty, are fundamentally equivalent in the platonic account of “what is”) it must give careful thought to how those communications transmit a faithful image of the one who claimed to be “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. If those who have been given by the Head to be responsible for “equipping the Saints for works of service” (Eph 4:11-12) define “marketing” along these lines, they will do well. Otherwise, the professional image makers are best sent on their way and kept “outside the camp” (the tentative conclusion of Book 10, up to the “Myth of Er” in “Republic”, leaving the door open for them to reason their way back in, but otherwise keeping at arm’s length their emotive generation methodolgies that distort “what is” for the sake of ‘closing the sale’ or ‘moving the masses’ to irrational displays of passion).
    As mentioned at the start, the Bible is full of image making, and there is a positive account of this activity, too, which deserves attention: e.g., the descriptions of the fixtures and accouterments of the temple, and the Ark of the Covenant, and all of the texts that spell out the intent of the design of these artifacts to present a faithful image of divine truths, most of which are frankly beyond the boundaries of the intelligible (that which can be fully apprehended by thought). Both platonic thought and the “faith once delivered to the saints” acknowledge this boundary. Plato did not see the “personal” aspect of what he called “the Idea of the Good”, but he did understand that it went beyond what could be directly known. Scripture underlines the same point in driving us towards an acknowledgement of our creaturely dependence on our Creator which, unlike the other trans-tribal monotheistic “brands” (Judaism and Islam), is represented in Christian thought as a single multi-personal being.


  • Mike
    October 24, 2006

    Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested Pilate, “Do not write “The King of the Jews, but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written” John 19:19-22
    Pontius Pilate-The first ad executive for Christianity. Important to note..THIS WAS GOD’s DIVINE WILL. God used Pilate.
    The first argument about advertising. What not to write. (How many of these have we experienced!)
    Pilage did not do this willingly in the sense that it was an intented purpose by Him to promote Jesus, I think it was a strong message of rebuke to the Pharisees and Saducees of what they had done. Who knows exactly what was in his head..God knows.
    God was in control. God used Pilate. God uses all things, even church marketing that sucks. God wastes nothing, only we do. There is great opportunity that has been used in some of the biggest suckiest marketing and events in human history. Others mean it for bad but God causes it to work for Good. I think that is a principle that we can apply here.
    1) Do things with excellence
    2) Pray about everything
    3) Personal contact and sharing the Gospel is best
    4) Creative marketing is fine but don’t let it rule you! IT then takes the place of the personal contact with people. WE get too busy and can’t say good morning so we hand them a card that says “Good Morning” because were too busy talking to someone else on our staff about our next campaign.
    GOD
    Let the focus be God and bringing him Glory. Get the Vertical right in reaching them at their point of need.
    People
    Meet them at point of need. Grace is required.
    The message-Don’t compromise it and turn your chuch inside out. Put the preachin on the lawn. Do something radical, shift your focus, have outdoor services. Try something new that is not PRINT DRIVEN.
    In this we Love God, Love neighbor and fullfill great commission.
    Don’t sacrifice or forsake people for the sake of campaigns. Stay focused on the human element. That is what Jesus did throughout his ministry. Direct Mail is fine, I’m in the business but..let that help not hamper your efforts in sharing the Gospel with people in person. We have become so impersonal. Sign the stinkin’ letter already Pastor’s. Don’t use the stamp. Then your like everyone else….We are called to be in the world but not of the world. Don’t change the message, just present it with excellence. We can’t be afraid of offending people. The Gospel will be offensive to some. Perhaps in a month when you go back to their house, God will have softened their hearts. I know it’s hard, I know it’s tough, but we can do it. IF we take the Gospel to the people we might be done by now and we can all go HOME….Remember, earth is not our home…God Bless you all…:)


  • Brett
    November 6, 2006

    I’m actually compiling a faith integration paper for my Marketing Capstone class at a Christian institution and the dialogue listed here has helped me greatly. The idea’s brought forth for both sides of the argument are exceptional. With the exception of people who simply say that marketing sucks, or don’t do sucky marketing, or just use the word sucks to further their point, I’ve learned a lot here. And the final statement by Mike sums everything up. It’s a tricky subject matter and no one can claim to know the answer to the question of marketing as a whole, because the bottom line is that it can be useful in furthering Christian concepts, just as it is capable of producing great harm, just like anything in life. Just like insane evangelists on TV who claim to have Holy Water which can cure any problem you might have. I think first impressions are everything. But like Mike said, the four principles are key, as as long as you have those down you are able to do your best in regards to discernment.


  • wotm
    December 13, 2006

    We Christians already know what sinners need: righteousness. However, they do not know it. They live in sin and iniquity like there’s no tomorrow.
    Consider this:
    “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 14.11)
    However, non-Christians delight in unrigtheouness, Job 15.16 says that men “drink up evil like water!”
    Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness”
    What can ignite this desire for righteousness in a sinner? Billboards saying “Jesus Loves You”? Newspaper adds stating “Got troubles call 1800-Jesus?”
    Nope.
    Only the divine Law of God can truly expose a person’s real state before God and make him know that if he stands before a Perfect and Holy God on Judgment Day, he’ll get what he deserves: an eternity in Hell.
    Then he’ll cry out “what must I do to be saved!?”. And only then is when the Good News of the Gospel must be presented: the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection. That not only he requieres to believe, but also to repent and put his trust in the Savior.
    Then and only then a sinner can be made righteous through Christ.
    What a “product” we’ve got!
    It’s the most amazing “product” in the world. But the world doesn’t care at all. It’s our job to let them know.
    :)


  • Michael Daehn
    January 12, 2007

    Amen!
    Marketing is the discipline of effective communication to an audience. Christians are trying to communicate an important message to the world. By following sound principles they will do a better job and reach more people.


  • CyanFox
    March 30, 2007

    I understand that marketing has a bad rep nowadays, but understanding what it basically is and relating it to the church, would only lead us to one important question: How can you still preach the Good News to a generation where everybody talks about Jesus Christ but only few really knows Him?


  • cj
    June 13, 2007

    To be honest I did not read all the comments, so I may be repeating something someone has already said; if not, maybe it’ll bring some light to the matter.
    And light is what a darken world needs, not marketing efforts by men who, though saved, are yet to be perfected.
    God has an economy. An economy in which and through which He rules over all things in creation. It is through the working out of this economy that God is able to bring about His will.
    Unfortunately there are not many believers who recognize this (perhaps because its not properly taught in the greater part of the believing body) and as a result are clueless when it comes to seeking it.
    “Seek first the kingdom of God…” is a command by He who we claim is our Lord. But just what is this “kingdom?”
    It’s God’s economy, His way of doing things. And when a believer has truly sought God’s economy this believer is rewarded through evidenced transformation of their person from darkness to light; i.e. this believer becomes a lamp unto the world.
    Think of a light blub. If it is in a socket that has not been connected to the electrical wiring then no matter how perfect it is in its ability to do what it was created for, it will never be able to do it.
    The believer wasn’t created (believers are a new creation) to reflect the things of the world, we are created to reflect God. But this is easier said than done, so we look to other “human” options that we convince ourselves will fulfill our new creation calling, marketing being one of these “human” options.
    Its quite sad, and really is more against God than for Him.
    How often we simply ignore the command of “Be still and know I am God.”
    God’s economy of salvation for mankind doesn’t stop because a billboard hasn’t been put up, or postcards sent out, and it certainly doesn’t stop because we don’t “evangelize” those around us. All creation declares God, an salvation is a matter of first “seeing” and then “receiving” God. Does anyone honestly think that God is not able to save a person in whatever way He fines necessary? I hope not, but God’s preferred way of declaring Himself on the earth today is through men/women, and not the marketing efforts of men. God desires the unsaved to be saved by first seeing Him in the saved person He brings into their path, and then by hearing the words of the gospel of Christ that they can believe into. But we have left this and instead gone about creating our own “human” way of outreach, a way that is completely against God’s way.
    And we have done this for one reason,… poor ministry that leads to weak belief.
    The saying goes, “Empty vessels make the most noise.”
    Today’s believers are mostly empty vessels when it comes to the life of God filling us. So we do what we can see in the bible that men have done for thousands of years, we develop our own ways to seek and reach God, conduct ourselves according to what we think please Him.
    The church today has taken the way of Cain all over again.
    Yet, thankfully God’s economy rules over all things, and in His economy the blood of His Son covers all things, even the vain attempts of believers.
    In the end (Revelation) we find out that the river of life flows out of the throne of God, and all that is needed of us is that we become one with the flow and by doing so God’s life simply flows through us and out to others.
    And really, is there anything that a billboard can do that God’s life flowing cannot do a thousand times better?
    cj


  • Jose Muñoz
    September 7, 2007

    Estoy muy interesado en el programa que ofrecen, pero ¿qué información me pueden proporcionar en español? Bendiciones


  • Olu Elliott
    October 17, 2007

    Whilst I might question the “new style” of publicity adopted by many churches, I refuse to agree that “Marketing” should be alien to “Christendom”! “Marketing” is merely an awareness vehicle, an endorsement announcement, or even means of promotion!
    Style must be relevant to times. The church runs the risk of trailing far behind time or becoming totally irrelevant, because of its refusal to change.
    We can only reach out to the world by speaking the “same old message”, but in a far more relevant format. Thankfully, advances in technology have made this far easier and far reaching in terms of distance and potential numbers. Times are moving on and the church needs to move on to remain significant.
    Agree with it or not, the church is “selling” and must “sell” Christ. My work as a minister or even believer is to bring awareness of sin (“Market” the need for Righteousness in and through Christ), initiate conversion (“pitch the necessity of acceptance”) and allow the Spirit to do the rest.
    Yes, the return to the church from this “Marketing” is not financial gain, values and exchanges might differ, but the “Buyer” – The Convert pays a price – The sinful life laid at the cross and a commitment to a lifetime of true “followership”! The “Seller” – the church acts as a middleman facilitating this Conversion. I give you Christ; you give Him your life through me. The church profits a repentant soul.
    It would be wrong to claim as you have done that Church historically did not “Market” because the word “Marketing” is virtually inexistent in the scriptures. Far from true, the concept of “Marketing” in every sense of the word runs from the beginning of times till the end. “Marketing” as a word is not strewn through the bible for the same reason Aeroplanes, jets, helicopters aren’t. Your statement implies that because supersonic concord is not written in the scriptures, there was no transport mode. Jesus could not send for a jet, but rather a donkey, because that was what was physically available, and relevant to the times!
    Signs and Miracles have always been deemed as a tool to attract the unbeliever to accept faith and, to sustain the already believing along the journey through to maturity!
    God used many forms to indicate His presence and attract His people. Light, wind, fire, parted seas, opened eyes, earthquakes, dew, dove, manna, talking donkeys, stilled storms, dried up trees, parables, etc, etc, etc.
    God is the greatest “Marketing Executive”! He announces His presence and “sells” Himself like no other!
    Christ not only “Marketed” Himself through diverse miracles, and sent out many “Marketing Agents” (disciples), He further mandates us to “Market” Him to the ends of the earth.
    The Holy Spirit announces the presence of God today and “Markets” Him, in forms too numerous to mention.
    Mark 2:1, Luke 1:65, Acts 2:6 refer to Miracles leading to a “noising” of Christ. All they had was their mouths – rumouring and gossiping about Him. By His grace, we have by far more “noising” tools! Marketing is “noising” Christ. So lets NOISE Him.
    Whether through one-to-one, door-to-door, tracts, A boards, billboards, flash screen, terrestrial TV, radio, internet, or however the paramount matter is reaching out to perishing souls!
    In close, the real question lies in the effectiveness of the means – Is the Marketing speaking the true word of God? Is it intended to convict the hearer of his sin and transform life? Are souls brought into the Kingdom?
    Bless you
    M. O. Elliott


  • Tim
    February 27, 2008

    I just had to post something after reading through this (I know I’m a little late to the discussion)…
    Disclaimer; DO NOT WATER DOWN THE GOSPEL IN YOUR MARKETING (or attempts at it)!!! I’m a little apprehensive in telling this group know that marketing is o.k. (if it’s done in a way that is consistent with Biblical truth).
    For the question being asked… it is in the Bible (frankly I am surprised it hasn’t been mentioned… although I did skim through some of the posts ;-);
    1 Corinthians 9:20-23 (New International Version)
    To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
    God knew what he was doing when he contextualized the gospels towards the respective audiences (WITH A CONSISTENT MESSAGE… enjoy looking into it).
    Take care and good luck.


  • D. Wendal Attig
    August 29, 2008

    This thread struck a chord with me. As a lifetime Christian and professional marketing coach, author and keynote speaker, I see so many congregations that have become the “Church Club” for their members, instead of reaching out continually to reach the unchurched. arguing over whether we should or should not “market” the church is a moot point. if we don’t embrace it and use it effectively we cannot expect to see significant growth in our congregations and more importantly expand our opportunities to serve.
    Something Christians often forget is this: The lost — until they come into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ–are merely religious consumers!
    We must never compromise our message–in fact the unchurched hope we will stand for something worth following–but must change the way we communicate.
    In the parable of the wedding feast, in Luke 14:3, ” the lord said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.”
    These instructions were clearly to motivate these strangers by communicating strong or convincing reasons why they should come to the house so that they could be served and enjoy the master’s best. They were essentially instructed to counter all of the complaints and excuses that the earlier invited guest were making as reasons they could not comply. In essence,”Adjust your target market and tell a more compelling story!”
    This is one of the most classic examples in the bible of marketing. (Now, if you’re about to go bibleo-technical on me, remember that “Marketing” was not a word the King James’ translators were familiar with.)
    In today’s world, communication clutter in everything from your snail-mail box to your email screen finds the church at-large scrambling to get attention for what we know is the most incredible gift we’ve been given. And we want to share it. Many of us have an opportunity to witness personally, but we can reach so many more people by also using the marketing tools available to us, today.
    Marketing in the true sense of the word starts with a full understanding of your ministry’s strengths. (Forget the tendency to believe that your church is or should be all things to all people –God can do that– but not you or your church.)
    Like any organization, your church has strengths that have caused people to congregate. Learn what they were from members of your congregation who have been there consistently for more than 6 months, but not more than 2 years–they will tell you.
    Those strengths contribute to the “compelling” or marketing messages that make sense for your congregation. (And those your people will be able to confirm when new people arrive.) In the secular world, we would call that a value proposition–If you come, here’s something special you can expect from us.
    In my book on brand positioning, I point out how powerful it is to reduce the main differentiator about your organization into a one-line statement that embodies a single power point of distinction. This doesn’t mean your church has to stop doing anything you currently do, but it means your promotional initiatives must be focused enough to cut through the clutter and deliver an important position.
    The challenge in this exercise is to create this “brand positioning statement” so that it registers from the perspective of the “religious consumer” to compel them to come in, and yet simultaneously works to reinforce the strength it represents within your existing congregation.
    Once this is clear, prayed over and tested, this becomes your lead brand position and the focal point around which you create additional messaging. Put it out everywhere you can, through traditional and non-traditional methods.
    BBBBBBut wait…..just because you develop a clever slogan doesn’t mean they will come ……..and stay, long enough to get it.
    The next initiative in your church marketing is to reinforce the advertised strength through everything your church operationally does to manage the path of least resistance from the parking lot to the pew–don’t just make a promise-deliver consistently–by design.
    They came because you created an expectation. Now, make them feel welcome, make them feel like they have been missing something special and make them want to come back again and again –maybe even get involved with this bunch of people. Make it easy for them to say yes to you, and you’ll make it much easier for them to say, “yes,” to God.
    So far, we’ve done everything but convert them to a personal relationship with Jesus, which is something only God can do. We have to create the opportunity, by sending a compelling message into the marketplace of unbelievers who are religious consumers at best. This is our 21st century method of going out into the highways and hedges and compelling them to come in –then our personal efforts, our talents and our christian witness will influence a mindset He can use to introduce and deliver the power of His saving grace.
    Go forth and Market!
    D. Wendal Attig


  • Joel J.
    May 14, 2009

    The links here do not work anymore… any chance of updating those?


  • Rick A
    August 20, 2009

    The Bible certainly does cover marketing. It teaches us that we have a message and that we should not hid it under a bushel. This is advertising as it was explained in the day of Jesus Christ.
    If we travel this earth inur daily lives , not hiding under a bushel, our light will shine and we are positive examples of what it means to be a Christian


  • ab
    September 16, 2009

    Um….hello…The Great Commission? “Marketing” was not a word used in Hebrew as it is today. But Go Forth and Preach to All Nations that they may know….equals, get the word out. If you’re going to be in marketing and make your life about making sure ppls attn is on x y or z subject, what subject is more eternally of import than the Gospel and Jesus Himself by name available to each and every life today? Got Milk? Got Jesus? Both Marketing. Only one can be found in Mark…and Matthew and Luke and John…and is one of the Greatest Commandments our Lord ever gave humankind. Go…tell them.


  • Martin L.
    December 2, 2009

    Wow you really think it is your right to go to peoples homes and preach to them? “There are people right now in your community that don’t know God. There are children without fathers, families without hope. How are you reaching them? How do they know your church exists, and what it exists for?”
    Look by now in America…people know what a Church is for…they don’t come because there are no answers for them there. It’s great that you believe it solves everything bowing and cowering and trying to “convert”. I am sorry that you do not see the truth of what is in front of you…that you rely on what others say is in the bible and how to interpret it. Do you not question anything? or do you blindly just follow and grovel out of fear of being spanked? Peace be with each of you and good luck on your path. I don’t need to read the bible to know that it is a good thing to help those in need. By the way…marketing is a business tool since the Church is the largest cash crop and gets the most Tax advantages…it does fit.


  • Jerry
    May 31, 2010

    This is ridiculous. Marketing is used to make money, sell a product, and manipulate groups of people. A “church” is not a business nor is its purpose to grow or recruit people. If anyone thinks otherwise they do not know their bible. The title of this site is very accurate, “church marketing sucks”, it does, not because it is usually cheesy, stupid, lame, and ineffective but because no church should be doing it! The entire motivation for using any marketing tactics demonstrates that it is not of God, the desire to simply grow and make more money. Sad.


  • Church Minister, Yorba Linda
    September 1, 2010

    The word marketing essentially connotes profiteering whether in the past or present. Provide value and charge something for it.
    The church represents selfless service for the needy with funds contributed by true believers of the faith. The larger good as against individual desire. As they say “never the twain shall meet”.


    • onefree1
      October 13, 2011

      Yorba Linda Dude…have you looked at your website lately?

      There are more bells and whistles, podcasts, and advertisements of upcoming events then most professional sports teams have. I could find no services for the needy, help for the homeless, or a church that…” represents selfless service for the needy with funds contributed by true believers of the faith.”

      Come on, please don’t make a comment like that above and put a url to a site that has a link in its main navigation header so that I can click-n-give, with a catchy message included:

      “Thank you for choosing to support XXXXXXXXX. We appreciate your commitment to our cause and look forward to your involvement with our church. Your generosity will enable us to continue to bring awareness to our ministries and make a difference in the lives of those we impact through our efforts.” (Church name deleted to protect YOU!)

      Wow…”our cause”…”our church”…”our ministries”…”our efforts”!

      Please walk the talk—don’t just write it and run—and let people see the truth, found only in Jesus, radiating from your life AND from your words. :-)

      It has been a year since you wrote this post and you may never read this, but I feel as if the universe is better balanced tonight, just by writing it.

      PS. I did see that your church could be rented out for weddings and the prices “advertised” are very reasonable…but it is only for use by members who seem to have extra “funds” not “contributed by true believers of the faith.” :-)



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