Wharton’s online business journal, Knowledge@Wharton did an article last month about the increasing amount of products and services being marketed in partnership with churches. From test driving SUVs during a Gospel concert to the church’s involvement with so many big screen movies (Passion, Narnia and Nativity to name a few), mainstream marketers are realizing the potential that exists with bringing products to the pews, as opposed to waiting for the pews to come to their products.
The concept of taking a message to the people is nothing new. I don’t remember Jesus ever inviting people to church/Temple, yet it appears churches are still learning this lesson. I digress.
The realization to mainstream marketers that congregations are a worthy market is long overdue. I also think churches are long overdue to harness this powerful partnership potential and consider the synergies. I am not suggesting we start re-naming our churches to include a sponsor’s name, but there is certainly room for strategic and meaningful partnerships.
Cone, a Boston-based cause branding agency has published research that supports these partnerships. Although their research is about non-profits in general, I do believe churches would find similar conclusions.
- 76% of Americans believe that [business and non-profit partnerships] result in a more positive image of the non-profit
- 79% are more likely to buy a product that supports the non-profit
- 76% are more likely to tell a friend about the non-profit
- 70% are more likely to donate money to the non-profit
This is not about increasing revenue for the sake of money, it’s about pursuing ways to expand the Kingdom of God here on earth. If Jiffy Lube wants to sponsor a sermon series about the road less traveled, imagine the exposure and curiosity that is piqued from the very people you want to be inviting to church in the first place.
My hunch would be that the people who take issue with these deals are the people who are already Christ-followers. Surprise, surprise.
How unfortunate it would be to miss out on opportunities for advancing the Gospel for the sake of making sure we don’t sell our souls to the advertising devils. I’m not suggesting we proceed carelessly, but lets not forget that up until now, churches were the cultural centers. Cities were built around them!
Imagine for a moment what would happen if products and services had to be filtered through church partnerships. Maybe Madison Avenue would clean up her act a bit?
(link via Jeff Hamilton.)