Non-Christian Marketers Poll

January 25, 2006 by

Should churches seek the help of non-Christian marketers?Last week we asked the touchy question of whether or not churches should hire non-Christian marketers. It’s a debate we’ve had before, are having now and will probably have again.

More than half said yes, 21% said no, and 18% said it’s more complicated than that. So the debate continues.

This week we’re asking how to celebrate the impending birth of my baby girl. At this point she’s already a few days late and I’d be happy just to have her out. Surprisingly, few are voting for “No blogging for a week,” which is the most likely outcome.

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 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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19 Responses to “Non-Christian Marketers Poll”

  • Chuck
    January 25, 2006

    My son (2nd child) is due in March. You won’t even have time to think about blogging that first week, let alone the first month. :)

  • Sam DeSocio
    January 25, 2006

    I don’t get it. If you wouldn’t let a non-believer preach at your church, or wouldn’t let a non-believer lead worship, then why would you let one run your church’s marketing?

  • [rhymes with kerouac]
    January 25, 2006

    Sam DeSocio –
    Because you honestly believe this is the person God has brought to your ministry.

  • corey
    January 25, 2006

    Sam, I think it’s a little deeper than that. A preacher and worship leader are directly interacting with the congregation (within the walls of the building) and must be trusted to speak from agreement with the church’s doctrine- ESPECIALLY when there is the assumption that they’ll be speaking freely from the heart and injecting their own off-the-cuff thoughts. Many conservative churches wouldn’t hire a liberal/evangelical pastor or worship leader for that same reason.
    But a marketing firm is hired to help with presentation ideas and more fundamental (rudimentary?) aspects of communication like layout, type choice, and color psychology. When choosing those things, I think it’s a bit excessive to assume that a christian might have a better understanding of color psychology, or that he’ll better understand the fundamentals of layout and design.

  • Michael
    January 25, 2006

    Agreed, you can’t assume that just because they are christian they can get the job done. We shouldn’t hide behind our label, don’t pick someone simply because they are christian.
    BUT…if their portfolio is strong, their skills are strong why wouldn’t you choose a christian?
    And we’re not talking about simply a production position, this is marketing…they too are interacting with those within the walls and outside.
    I think we short change those doing the marketing to the point where it doesn’t matter who they are.

  • Sam DeSocio
    January 25, 2006

    Sorry but I just cannot agree.
    A firm that will be creating and presenting you to the community is just as important, and we are portraying the visible body of Christ, should we leave this up to someone who does not recognize Christ to those we are hoping to minister too. Were the Pharisees the herald of Christ? No it was John the Baptist, the man healed of Legion, and the woman at the well, all of whom had an understanding of Christ as savior.
    Besides as Christians we are supposed to be the ones in at the too of every field.
    How can the blind lead the blind?
    Especially when we have great creative groups like Michael’s and Corey’s

  • Sam DeSocio
    January 25, 2006

    Typo – we are supposed to be at the top of every field =)

  • corey
    January 26, 2006

    Perhaps my adamant arguments are giving the wrong impression. I’m certainly not saying that one SHOULD choose a secular marketing firm. And I ABSOLUTELY AGREE that if all else was equal, why on earth wouldn’t a church choose a christian marketing firm?
    But I’ve seen just as many Christians mishandle the gospel. And, more than once, I’ve seen a group of card-carrying christians gather to decide how they’re going to best show The Lost why they should be at “Church A” or “Christian Credit Union B” and the results are condescending to say the least.
    My point is that when it comes to doing God’s work, we’re ALL broken and we’re ALL bumbling fools every now and then. I can’t buy into a hiring guideline that disagrees with my fundamental belief in church membership. I don’t expect people to “get clean” before they come to church. I expect them to come to church to get cleansed. And I don’t expect them to pass the 16-week Pastor’s Class before they tell a friend that they have been saved by Christ Crucified. I believe that they can share that good news even if they don’t know the “whos”, “whens”, “wheres”, and “whys” (coincidentally- the same things one would teach a marketing firm when hiring them to market his church).

  • brian
    January 26, 2006

    I wouldn’t have someone on staff at my church that was a non-christian for marketing. But, I would definitely hire an outside firm (christian or non) to assist. That way, you get the most creative people, but have a check system with a Christian mindset too. My church does that all the time. I might not be able to come up with the ideas, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. And honestly, I’m tired of “extreme home makeover” sermons and the other crap that our church’s creative board normally comes up with. It’s like you need that outside perspective to keep you out of the bubble.
    oh, and I say take the time off when your daughter is born. I took 4 weeks off when mine was born. I remember those 4 weeks with my daughter, but my job didn’t remember the 4 weeks without me.

  • Brandon Meek
    January 26, 2006

    I would say if all is equal, then yes I would go with the Christian agency. Typically, all isn’t equal though.
    One time, I was talking with an art director from one of the largest agencies in the country, who has been there for a little over 10 years. I was just bouncing some ideas off of him on what our church was wanting to do. The 5 or 10 minutes of feedback I received from him changed our entire concept and forced our staff to really think through what exactly they were communicating.
    I don’t have to work in the airline industry to create ads for them. I don’t have to sell cars to be able to design a logo for a dealer. I think for many, they want to stay away from the secular guys because they are afraid of what they might hear.

  • matt
    January 26, 2006

    First, let me say how much I LOVE CMS! If only I could get the RSS intravenously.
    I wonder if your church has an ad in the yellow pages. Are the ad rep, designers, and press operators for the YP all believers? How about your print shop? The barber who cuts pastor’s hair? The mason who laid the bricks on the front of the church? All are crucial in presenting your church to the community. Do vendors submit their testimonies for evaluation?
    I don’t mean to patronize; this goes at the very heart of evangelism. We are called to be IN the world and not OF it. It would be incredibly self-defeating if we insist upon limiting our relationships to the Body of Christ. We certainly don’t do this personally, why would we do it with the business of church?
    I understand your position, but feel strongly that we may win more marketers to Christ if they could stomach a three-second gaze at our church bulletin. What better way to impact a local marketing firm with the Gospel than to hire them to concentrate on your message for a few weeks?
    Corey’s last graph sums it up. By the end of a marketing campaign, the firm knows the message better than the client (church).

  • kevin
    January 26, 2006

    I love how this debate just keeps on raging. Thank you everyone for keeping things civil.
    I just have two comments to add:
    Sam, you say Christians are supposed to be at the top of every field, and I think that’s the fundamental problem. We’re not. If we were this site wouldn’t exist.
    And Brian, I agree with you. Hiring an outside marketer doesn’t mean you’re handing over the reigns and stepping back. Your church is still in charge and has the ultimate veto.

  • Michael
    January 26, 2006

    I don’t have to be a pilot to market for an airline, but I can’t imagine an airline ever hiring an agency -no matter how talented- if they hated flying. Or imagine showing up to a pitch to Coke with a Diet Pepsi.
    And comparing marketing to a printer? That’s a problem. Again, it’s part of the reason CMS exists. We are talking about communication not a process where you hit a button and spit out the poster of the day. There are marketers that have a gifting from God and marketers that have a new computer. I’m talking about the gifted, annointed marketer. It’s not plumbing, it’s not printing…it’s communication of the gospel.

  • Daniel
    January 26, 2006

    I don’t think some people realize what marketing firms do. They are not the ones who create your message, and they don’t decide what you are producing. Marketing firms make money because they know what the public responds to, and how to package something so that people will take a look into it. Marketing isn’t about who hires them, but about the public who takes in the ad.
    A good firm will know how to research public tastes better than anyone outside the field. This is valuable information and I believe what God wanted when He gave the great commission to people rather than God evangelizing for Himself. People know other people, and can relate to other people in ways that God, being who He is, would not be able to. I think one of the major shortcomings of many in Christian circles today is that they don’t know their audience, and what they mean to say is not the message that comes across. If an outside marketing firm only helps churches to know their secular audience, then that is a huge step forward.

  • Neil
    February 6, 2006

    If God can use a donkey…

  • Neil
    February 6, 2006

    Kevin – I hope the birth of your little girl went well. I have 2 girls aged 1 and 3 – they are brilliant!!

  • Dan
    February 7, 2006

    Billy Graham said something about if he had to be operated on he didn’t care if the surgeon was a Christian. He just wanted a competent surgeon.
    In a marketing campaign, the marketing professional isn’t given the keys to the car. His job is to help the client, in this case a church, accomplish the client’s goals. The marketing professional’s job is interpretation. It might be likely that a Christian would interpret your goals best to the printed page, the web or wherever. But that’s not a certainty.

  • Mindy
    June 25, 2007

    I would say that if possible, hiring a Christian marketer, graphic designer, or whatever, would be preferred. It seems like they would better understand how to incorporate and communicate Christian values into the design and outcome of the project. But just like most fields out there it’s hard to find alot of good quality Christian businesses to choose from, so if you find a non-Christian business that has good work, I would say there’s nothing wrong with going with them. I work for a company called leppdesign and our target market is small Christian businesses and churches because we too realized this problem that churches have finding good quality work that is Christian. We really had a heart to be able to design for them and help create websites that proclaim the gospel. It’s been exciting to be able to help even a small number of churches with websites and logos and such, knowing that theirs and our intention is to further Christ.

  • hotspur
    June 25, 2007

    Non-Christian marketer here (I’m Jewish, convert from the Episcopal Church – Episcopalians just weren’t liberal enough ;-)
    My two cents worth:
    1. Try to hire the bona-fide Christian first.
    My former priest put it best a long time ago: “Church is a business, religion is a sales job. Never forget that. Those that do don’t remain ministers long.”
    Christian ministry is tough enough as-is with a staff of 100 percent true believers. At the very least, you do not want to have to hand-hold the staffer who means well but has no clue what the goal is or how to get there.
    I went to a Episcopal Church college that was falling behind badly in a capital funds campaign until someone came up with a brilliant idea: Hire a Southern Baptist to raise money for us! The guy went out and ran rings around the secular folks and liberal Episcopalians who had the gig before him. His secret: he really believed in the mission and showed it. (Do what you love and the money will follow, etc.)
    Hindus, Jews and, frankly, Episcopalians couldn’t make the case for the college’s mission within the Church – it took a member of the SBC to sit down and pound the table for donations. You go with the right person when it comes to marketing.
    2. If you can’t find the Christian candidate, hire outside the faith but…
    But make very sure that person knows what she/he is getting into and what the goal is!
    I’m good friends with a fellow Jew who is helping with the marketing of a Christian-oriented business concern.
    She’s freaking out.
    She’s very, very good at what she does but is having major internal conflicts with the ethics about playing for the other team.
    Any candidate from outside the faith needs to know up front what this is all about and needs to be asked (in a friendly way, of course)how would they feel working with a group of folks who honestly believe that someone died and rose again, etc.? Would they be comfortable in that environment?
    There’s nothing wrong with asking that question. If asked right, it shows that you care about that individual and want to make sure they’ll be comfortable if they become a member of the team.

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