This is part seven in our series on guerrilla church marketing, Power to the Pews.
Marketing should be both internal and external. We’ve talked about several ways that lay people can help their church with external marketing. Now it’s time to talk about internal marketing: Promoting your church from within your church.
At first glance that might seem kind of ridiculous. Why would a church attendee need to promote the church to other attendees? Everybody’s already there, isn’t that mission accomplished? Not exactly. If your only goal is getting more people into your church’s door, then maybe you can call that done. But just because somebody walks into your church once doesn’t mean they’re going to come back. A thousand factors influence whether they’ll come back or not, but a big one (aside from the spiritual) is the kind of experience they have.
Hopefully your church staff does a lot to make that experience worthwhile. But there’s also a lot the person in the pew can do to supplement what’s already being done. And in some cases, there are things the lay person needs to do that a staff just can’t.
This should go without saying, but it still needs to be said: Be friendly. Perhaps the single greatest thing the average person in the pew can do to bring people back to their church is simply being friendly to the people in the pews around them. Say hello. Introduce yourself. Actually remember their name. If you see somebody new at church, welcome them. If you see someone looking lost, help them out. If you see somebody who looks a little uncomfortable, try to put them at ease. You don’t have to be over the top (and that can scare people away), but be kind. This doesn’t exactly qualify as marketing, but in a way it is. It’s part of your church’s image. And hopefully it goes deeper than that. Friendship is one of the main things that keeps people in church.
Many churches are well known for their ability to socialize over bad coffee and stale pastries. Sadly many more churches lack this social lubricant that gives people something to do while they’re standing around waiting for church to start. If your church is lacking in this area, step up. Grab some coffee and bagels on the way to church and start a spread. You can’t help but feel welcome when you’re sharing food together.
Some people, like yours truly, are horrible at remembering names. And it’s not just the new people. You could be attending my church for 20 years and if you sit on the opposite side of the sanctuary, it’s entirely possible that I’ll never remember your name. But knowing someone’s name is a key way to make them feel welcomed. If a new person comes back a second week and people remember their name? That’s a good feeling. So try a name tag. Yes, it’s dorky. And no, please don’t force new people to wear name tags. But maybe you slap a ‘Hello My Name is…’ sticker on your shirt every week and leave a stack of stickers in the entryway. It’s kind of goofy, but it smooths those introductions as people instantly know what your name is. Maybe some other folks will follow your lead and more name tags will appear.
Every church has their own special social events throughout the year. Maybe it’s a fundraising dinner or a Sunday picnic. Maybe it’s just a casual lunch after church. But there are these casual events that happen outside the worship service and it can be hard for newcomers to take the plunge and attend. Some of these events are in the bulletin (and worse, some aren’t!), but it’s still awkward for new people to come. Do they really want to drive all the way out to the state park for the big picnic? What if they can’t find the right spot? What if they don’t recognize anyone? It’s the same issues they faced when they first came to your church, all over again. Make it easy on people and give them a personal invitation. Calm their fears, answer their questions and help them feel like they belong. It’s simple (so simple we don’t even think about it), but it can go a long way.
Connect Your Congregation
Churches can be kind of like high school, where people from all different classes and groups come together. It can be a chance to interact with people who are different, discover something new and stretch yourself. But not if everybody hangs out in their tight little cliques, just like high school. Help people connect. Introduce people. Do a little networking and cross-pollinate different groups. Connect the guy looking for a construction job with the guy who does site management. Introduce the new young adult couple to your active group of young adults. When you meet the new guy who does PR for a living, introduce him to your church’s communications team.
Ask How You Can Help
There’s a lot you can do to promote your church on the inside. If you’re short on ideas, take your communications team out for coffee and pick their brains. Ask how you can help. It’s likely they have a lot of great ideas and not enough manpower to make them happen. You can be that man- or womanpower.