Here’s a confession: I’m not a fan of big churches, and by “big churches” I mean weekly attendance over 20. I think that churches should meet in homes and that “ministry” means helping a guy replace his broken water heater. Also, I think church advertising is a waste of time.
I recognize this is narrow and even a little hypocritical since I currently do communications full-time for a church of 700. I’m always butting my head against my own lack of enthusiasm for big events and organized ministries. But every few weeks I hear about something that gets me really pumped (usually a bunch of guys fixing cars for widows and single moms) and reminds me of a concept I consider to be at the root of church marketing:
The most powerful apologetic for Christianity is a local church body living the way it should.
See, even churches who try to advertise to unbelievers instead of to church people usually still fail. I speak even for my own church. Our thinking generally seems to run like this: “We must advertise so that people will perceive us in a favorable light and thereby be drawn to our Sunday morning services, where they will meet God.”
This is nonsense.
We spend most of our time trying to “clever” people into the kingdom with advertising, when in reality they will more likely be drawn in a powerful way by the love we have for one another, the open confession of our sins and the compassion we show to those in need. This is what will awaken the desire in unchurched people to become part of the Christian community.
Advertising in itself doesn’t make this happen. It’s a means, not an end. Our goal is not “Let’s have really good marketing.” Our goal should be “Let’s show people God and what he is doing in our church.”
Advertising simply points to what is already happening. And if nothing’s happening, then you’re in trouble.