Editor’s Note: Today we’ve got our executive director, Chuck Scoggins, chiming in on our 10-year anniversary series asking if church marketing still sucks. We’ll be discussing this question all month long, so check out the other posts and share your thoughts.
Ten years ago church marketing wasn’t on the radar. There were some forward-thinking churches doing it, but on the whole church marketing was still something people questioned—if we should do it, not how to do it. Most churches weren’t intentional about communication and as a result most church marketing sucked back then.
In the 10 years since then, the role of church communicator has become a popular position for churches to hire. Some church startups are even hiring communication directors ahead of other key staff positions such as youth pastor or children’s pastor. Pastors—while not necessarily understanding the nuances of email newsletters, videos, SEO, community engagement or social media—are beginning to see the value of having someone around who does get it.
In one way, churches are producing fewer cheesy graphics and are approaching communications in a much less sucky way. In some cases the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction and churches are trying to leverage every tool and are communicating every event and ministry opportunity in a way that has become noisy.
Nevertheless, church marketing doesn’t suck as much as it once did.
What Hasn’t Changed
There is, however, one area where I still see problems within churches when it comes to communication:
Church communication is still seen as a support ministry rather than a driver for how ministry is done.
Communication directors are still being seen as information-sharers rather than culture-shapers. Until this changes, church marketing will continue to suck.
We live in a world where everything is driven by communication tools. People can create, share and engage with high-definition videos using their mobile devices. Feedback is instant. Millions of conversations are happening at any given time. People are more receptive to hearing and sharing messages than ever. Communities have a voice like never before and if our churches aren’t leveraging these opportunities in a way that dynamically alters the way we approach ministry, we will fail to accomplish our mission.
Marketing Needs to Drive Ministry
It is no longer enough for churches to have a graphic designer who can put together a fancy newsletter. Church marketing can’t be seen as an afterthought, as mere packaging. Churches need to have thought-leaders as communication directors. We need innovators who can help the church leverage tools in new and different ways that stand out from the rest of the noise society blasts at people.
When we think about how communication has to be part of our DNA, it becomes clear we need to think differently about the role of communication directors. They need to have a seat at the table and be a key influencer in executive level decisions. They need permission to speak into how and why our churches do the things they do. They need margin to learn and explore. They need a budget that equips them to tackle these challenges.
Pastor, if you are hiring an information sharer, rethink your decision. If you want to get someone to blast noisy communication messages at your people, don’t! Think of marketing as more than just spreading the message, but helping to craft that message in the first place. We have to elevate our view of the role of the church marketer, or church marketing will continue to suck.
What do you think: Does church marketing still suck?