Declined, plateaued and downsized churches like mine are experiencing the “new normal” where numbers are more on the downside and less on the upside. When I took the job as worship pastor over two years ago I did not know we would lose a pastor of 14 years. On top of that recent event our church was already experiencing a period of plateau and all of us understand the economic realities of 2010.
In the past I was on church plant teams and also a staff pastor in a couple of booming mega churches. This current interim experience is new to me. The masses get advice from those who market with flair and have the big budget. I am guilty of this myself—BCED or “bigger church envy disorder”. But I think there are some things you can learn from people like me who have failure on their resume. Seriously.
Here are some practical things learned from failure…
- A cheap business card for our church members to give to their friends works better than a slick, expensive and fancy direct mailer to strangers. This can also be true about news ads, billboards or other huge splashes. Value: “inviting real people” or hospitality versus bloated junk mail that makes us feel better about ourselves.
- Social media is free, and if your people are about sharing their story it can be powerful. Its not about contrived buzz as much as it is inspiration that comes from real people to real people. Value: our people’s story versus our corporate propaganda.
- Instead of being exhausted after Easter, Christmas or any other big event, why not make every weekend great and every ministry thrive every week? Delivering something excellent and sustainable is just a sane choice to make. Having clean bathrooms might make more of a marketing difference than you think. Value: consistency versus flash in the pan.
- I know this is a common one, but how about the church website? You can have a website that is pretty and eye candy or one that people visit and actually interact with. Most of us cannot afford to invest enough to have both. So, if you have to choose, let reason win. Value: interaction and online experiences versus static information.
The questions is: “What value am I promoting with my marketing?” If your church worship programming cannot be inspiring, impacting and vibrant under cafeteria lighting it will not be with a $200K lighting rig. The same is true of marketing. Down scaling and focusing on the spiritual results is the key.
Do you have any lessons learned from failure to add to my list?