This is part ten, the final post, in our series on guerrilla church marketing, Power to the Pews.
“The task of the Christian is to live your life in such a way that your life doesn’t make any sense unless the story your life proclaims is true.” – Dorothy Day, American journalist and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement
In this Power to the Pews series, we’ve heard some great ideas about how church participants can help market their places of worship. As we’ve learned, posting (church-approved) flyers at coffee shops, using #lovemychurch on Twitter, and grocery shopping in our church hoodie are great ways to spread the word. But we don’t want people to just know about our churches, right? Aren’t we hoping that flyers, hashtags and branded apparel ultimately compel people to check out our church, get connected and experience life to the fullest measure through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Of course.
Consider for a moment that there’s a significant difference between advertising and marketing:
- Advertising builds awareness—not interest. (Kem Meyer)
- Marketing manages perception. (Richard Reising)
Here’s a startling reality: Fully two-thirds of young, unchurched people perceive the church to be full of hypocrites, and nearly half agreed with the statement, “Christians get on my nerves” (Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches That Reach Them by Ed Stetzer). With that in mind, it’s entirely possible that our clever guerrilla advertising efforts are simply making our communities more aware of a place and a group of people they’re perfectly fine avoiding.
Unless our very lives are actually managing against that ugly perception:
- When we stop for a soda after a long afternoon of putting out door hangers, how do we respond to the cranky cashier?
- Can we stop tweeting long enough to offer encouraging words to the stressed out dad in front of us in line?
- When our friends read our Facebook status updates, are they likely to see complaints about our co-workers or family members sandwiched between our check-ins at small group?
- Are we practicing generosity instead of consumerism?
- Are we known for what we’re against rather than what we’re for?
- Are we pretending that all is good and right and wonderful, or are we honest about our personal struggles and brokenness?
- Are we only praying for the homeless guy or are we handing him our hoodie?
- Do our lives speak truth, or do they perpetuate the perception of Christians as close-minded, out-of-touch hypocrites?
Stetzer’s research shows that more than half of young, unchurched adults agreed with this statement, “If people at church cared about me as a person, I would be more likely to attend.” So, as we’re looking for ways to help market our churches, it might be as simple as this: “Love God. Love your neighbor.” Radical, huh?
Let’s not just say we’re Christ-followers. Let’s be Christ-followers. Let’s live our lives in such a way that doesn’t make sense… unless the story our lives proclaim is true.