In churches, marketing efforts seem to go one of two ways—internally inspiring those who attend your church or externally inviting those who don’t yet attend.
In what direction should your ministry’s marketing face? Inspiration or Invitation?
The correct answer is a conditional both … but first you must determine to whom you are speaking.
Marketing that is directed inward, towards a church’s existing congregation, should inspire its audience to passionately pursue their own spiritual development and motivate them to faithfully fulfill the Great Commission. The message should inspire reflection and action. The message should encourage its audience to look beyond itself, into the world, and seek opportunities to move from worship to work, witnessing God’s grace to those outside of the church. The efficacy of this marketing will not be determined by the number of scriptural references that these members memorize or the number of committees to which these members belong. The efficacy of your inspirational marketing will be determined by the number of times your audience attempts to share their stories with those outside of the church. And yes, they will likely fail more often than they succeed. Your inspirational marketing must encourage them to act against the odds.
Marketing that is directed outward, towards the unbeliever or the unchurched, should invite its readers to consider a relationship with Christ. This message should also inspire reflection and action. However, the difference is that the message should encourage its readers to look beyond the world’s distractions and search themselves, to consider how a relationship with God might improve their current situation. The efficacy of this marketing will not be determined by your individual church’s growth, or even the increased number of downloads of your podcast, hits to your website or subscriptions to your blog. Ultimately, the efficacy of your invitational marketing will be determined by the number of people who stand in anticipation of an authentic encounter with the resurrected Christ, most of whom you will never meet. There is a strong chance that your intended audience will miss your message simply because you don’t speak their language. Your invitational marketing must be localized and relevant, so that your audience doesn’t believe you to be alien.
The cost of getting these wires crossed can be very expensive. Improperly directed internal marketing can cause the existing member to feel justified in withdrawing from the world, instead of going out and witnessing to it. Similarly, unfocused external marketing must be careful not to reinforce the reasons that unbelievers and the unchurched currently cite to avoid fellowship with the Christian community.
In what direction does your ministry’s marketing face? Be it inspirational or invitational, be sure it points its audience in the right direction, toward a healthy and growing relationship with God.