Tomorrow is election day in the United States (go vote).
Hallelujah! It’s nearly safe to turn on the TV again and not be browbeaten by political attack ads of every stripe.
One thing you won’t see in all those ads is an attempt to honestly and respectfully discuss issues. There’s no attempt to reach out to voters, no attempt to change minds. It’s all appealing to the already convinced, using lingo that hits the right buttons and touches the right issues, instead of actually engaging in productive conversation.
Politics and religion have a lot in common. They’re the two subjects you’re not supposed to bring up at a dinner party.
But as much as politics and religion have in common, one thing they definitely shouldn’t have in common is marketing tactics.
- Political marketing is about scoring points. Try that with your church and potential visitors will run for the door. Engage in conversation and relationship, not debate.
- Politicians seem to only care about your vote and your money. If churches only care about your soul and your money we’ll likewise be reviled (and often are). Care about people, families, communities.
- Political campaigns almost always go negative (or find a third party group to do it for them). If churches only attack wrong beliefs then we’re never offering anything to believe in. Offer a positive message.
- Admitting mistakes is anathema in politics (“Mistakes were made”). Unfortunately, people make mistakes. Rather than sidestep responsibility and fault like the politicians, the church should own up to it. Isn’t that what grace and forgiveness are all about?
So if you want to know how to do church marketing, take a look at the last gasp of political advertising before tomorrow’s election. And don’t do that.