Here at Church Marketing Sucks, we are often criticized for feeding the capitalistic free-market economy mindset that says if you advertise, promote, or market something well, people will come and churches will grow. This criticism is usually from people who have not read far enough into what we’re actually doing, and instead see the words “church” and “marketing” in the same sentence and start swinging.
It grieves me when I see churches follow the lead from mainstream marketers and attempt to package themselves in a way that feeds this consumer mindset. It’s as if some churches have resolved to think that the only way to connect with people is to do so in the context of a “buy/sell” relationship with the community they are seeking to reach. Bunk!
Allow me to illustrate this point with the following ad I saw today in one of our local downtown LA newspapers.
Are these problems affecting you?
Check the problems that you are facing:
- Bad luck
- Constant headaches
- Other ___________
Bring your name
Come this Sunday at 10AM to participate in a service of strong prayer.
Receive free of charge THE MIRACLE CLOTH.
Cut out this coupon and bring it with you Sunday morning to receive the Miracle Cloth free.
The ad is topped off with a passage from Acts that appears to support their free miracle cloth offer.
This is certainly church marketing. And it certainly sucks.
Whenever we function in a consumer context that says what we have is what people need, we will always try and communicate that in a way that makes the “needy” feel their need to respond. I need Shampoo because my hair smells. I need a woman because I have hormones. I need candy because I have a sweet tooth. I need a new car because the one I have is old. I need to go to this church because I have problems.
This slippery slope toward manipulation is something we must be aware of and avoid at all costs. Our communication must be done without inferring, insinuating, or assuming that the people who read/hear/see the message need to be roped, wrangled, or cajoled.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to work on hearts! In the meantime, we need to be working on our message. Remember, it’s authentic, it’s loving and it knows how to spell!