A friend from church has been sporadically carrying on a conversation with me about first impressions. He knows that I am a big first impressions guy and he positions himself somewhat antagonistically as someone who cares more about what is happening in the hearts of the people at church than what happens in the parking lot or with the font on the church bulletin. Unfortunately we can’t seem to come to any reconciliation despite my contention that good first impressions and the authenticity of church attenders are complementary and not contradictory.
In it he writes:
Some are afraid of the word “marketing” . But every church markets themselves to one degree or another. A sign in front of your building is marketing. Invitation cards to your church is marketing. The issue to me is “what is the impression you want people to have when they think about your church?” Marketing is how you present yourself to your community. It’s not simply promotion. This is what made the book interesting to me. I’d recommend it.
I love how Franquiz picks up on the difference between promotion and presentation. First impressions is about leaving a taste in people’s mouth that makes them more willing to ‘try it’ again. True, if your first impressions ministry is solely focused on promoting this or that in your church for the sake of self-glory or reputation, you have trouble. But if your impressions ministry is designed around presenting everything well, sermons/greeters/signage/bulletins, then you can work for the sake of God’s glory and the welcoming of people into his kingdom.
Marketing and first impressions are not bad things when they are used for the presentation of Christ and not the promotion of self.