Does Church Marketing Still Suck?: Kem Meyer

Does Church Marketing Still Suck?: Kem Meyer

July 22, 2014 by

Editor’s Note: Our 10-year anniversary series has been asking experts if church marketing still sucks. Today we hear from Kem Meyer, the communications director at Granger Community Church, author of Less Clutter. Less Noise. and one of our former board members. This discussion continues all month, so check out the other posts and share your thoughts. We’re also giving away copies of Kem’s Communications Playbook, so stick around.

New level, new devil. (See what I did there? What better way to answer this question about bad communication in churches than to use a classic Christian cliché?) Yes, we’ve come a long way in the past 10 years.

Where It’s Working

We’ve got better:

  • Design Tools – We’re budgeting for today’s technology and the right licensing to create professional work.
  • Skills – In churches of all shapes and sizes, we’re empowering leaders as communication advocates. Someone has their eye on the ball!
  • Peer Networks – We’re partnering with other professionals in the creative, technology and design world to leverage the best minds and most effective strategies.

All in all, I cringe about 75% less when I visit churches (or their websites) in 2014 than I did in 2004. A decreasing cringe factor—that’s a measurable win!

But, our work is not done.

Where We Need Work

We still suck in:

  • Self-Control – Just because we can design a logo or create a video, doesn’t mean we should. We still have a tendency toward overkill. We fall in love with our own work. We’re unable to “kill our darlings.”
  • Our Perspective – We talk about promotions and branding interchangeably when we refer to “church communications.” These terms aren’t synonymous and they don’t encompass the totality of communication. We can do better sequencing our communications and defining the win for each stop along the way; before, during and after an event or campaign.
  • Prioritizing – We’ve got a mob of skilled and talented professionals who are eager and willing to execute the plan. But, we still seem to be short on “master plans.” A majority of churches have communication stakeholders operating in a defensive position, frantically working to keep up with the demand to create more, more, more. We need more “architect” leaders who can write the plan and call the plays. Without someone operating in an offensive position, anticipating the need and getting ahead of the calendar, we’re missing opportunities and wasting resources. We create a lot of output, but would be hard pressed identifying the desired outcome.

The Next 10 Years

What’s next? If we want people to buy the product, we can’t shortcut the process. My friend, Blaine Hogan, published a phenomenally uncomfortable book: Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process. To kick off our next 10 years, I submit it should be required reading for every communications and creative professional. In it, he quotes Dan Allender: “You have absolutely no business taking us to places youʼre unwilling to go yourself.” Ouch. Yep, we’ve got some work to do. Let’s go.

Does Church Marketing Still Suck?

Your turn: Do you think church marketing still sucks? Share your thoughts in the comments and be entered to win a copy of Kem’s Communications Playbook. It’s based on the communications manual at Granger and geared to give you insights into how to lead communications at your church. Three winners will get a copy of the Communications Playbook.

  1. Post a comment below answering the question, “Does church marketing still suck?”
  2. We’ll draw three winners at random on Friday, July 25 to receive a free copy of the book.
  3. One entry per person, legit email required so we can deliver the goods.

Congrats to our winners: Jon, Sarah & Designut!

What do you think: Does church marketing still suck?

Post By:

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer is a recovering corporate spin doctor who used to think church was for out-of-touch people who just needed to "get a life." Now she's the communications director at Granger Community Church and author of Less Clutter. Less Noise: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures and Bake Sales.
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16 Responses to “Does Church Marketing Still Suck?: Kem Meyer”

  • Denise
    July 22, 2014

    I agree. Things have come a long way, but there’s still some work to do. People verses tools (computers, software, licenses, machines) can be an issue. Where do we spend? Where does the admin think the biggest bang for the buck is? Is there money in the budget to have a communications person? A team seems like a stretch unless the team is mostly volunteers. Do churches really need marketing/communications people? Yes! But changing thought on this can be difficult. “We’ve always done it that way.” Yep. Better. Still a ways to go. Went to one of Kem seminars and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to learning more so I can in turn educate more of my coworkers.

  • Rebecca Llenos
    July 22, 2014

    The problem I always seem to find is the rush to get things done and not taking the time to think the process through and figure out what we are really trying to make happen. Recently I was challenged to find value in everything I communicate and then go back and prioritize those things to make sure those with the highest value are highest on the to-do list. As great as this sounds, and as much as I want this to work, I am struggling with making sure that I do not take the easy way out and make our programmimg high on the totem pole, but to remember that a lot of what I have to share and can share are stories that may not be as tangible, but still have the highest value in sharing the Kingdom of God. Wow…I sure said a lot….but feel better that I did!

  • Jon Cabiro
    July 22, 2014

    Does Church Marketing Still Suck? Ugh…what a difficult question to answer. It’s hard not to be critical of those pastors still “stuck in the 80’s” using clipart, and it’s hard not to be envious of the megachurch with 15 professionals on staff in their creative/communications department. But here most of us are, stuck in the middle of the two extremes. So rather than be critical or envious of someone else, I’ll just look at myself and ask, “Does my church marketing still suck?” To be honest, yeah, sometimes it does. For whatever reason, lack of time, lack of vision, laziness… But then again, sometimes it doesn’t; sometimes it’s not that bad at all.

  • Corri Page
    July 22, 2014

    So thankful for the challenge to continue to improve our game until church marketing no longer sucks.

  • April
    July 23, 2014

    With so many resources at our disposal, church marketing has gotten easier. We can reach more people more ways. It’s “seven times, seven different ways” on steroids! That being said, the way we market is far different than the rest of the world – but isn’t that the way we’re called to live as believers? So, suck? No. Living and marketing differently does not suck. It’s a challenge; a challenge we graciously accept.

  • Rodney
    July 23, 2014

    I find that this site provides updated sources for the ministry
    I am sure it is a lot of work on your side – but the results are encouraging

  • Dawn Nicole Baldwin
    July 23, 2014

    Well put, Kem. We really need more architects & curators of content. The quality & quantity of what’s getting produced has definitely increased, but the majority are still in reaction mode.

    Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

  • Diane Beason
    July 23, 2014

    I, too, have worked in the corporate world and I’m making the move to church communications. I have enjoyed reading all the comments about where church communications have been and how they can continue to improve. And I look forward to being part of it.

    Oh, and Kem, thanks for the reminder about Blaine’s book. I have the book and will re-read it now. Thanks!

  • Rory
    July 23, 2014

    Our church recently hired an administrator who has been establishing and managing much of our communications as a church. Having such a person who has a firm grasp on current technologies, strategies and employs a facilitators mindset, greatly improved our churches effectiveness internally and with in our community.

    In our experience there has been no lack of creative planning or vision, but a lack of commitment to focus ACTIVELY rather than allowing potential become a footnote on an old minutes email.. Now that we have someone to manage much of the process and provide alternative perspective, we have a much stronger connection between the visionaries, leadership and active members.

    For the first time in a long time, it DOES NOT suck!

  • Andrea Gerhard
    July 24, 2014

    Does Church Marketing still suck? In some places and in some ways yes, because in some places the resources are just not being dedicated to this area. And in many ways, some churches are still focusing very inward instead of thinking about the importance of getting Christ’s message out, especially to those who do not know Him. While having good communication within our church body is important, and we should do what we do within the church to our absolute best ability so that we may honor God, it is equally important to think about how we are getting the message out to those around us as well. And in today’s world, it is now more important than ever to know the Word and live it and collectively communicate the message that we are called to share.

  • Tonja Conway
    July 24, 2014

    The churches who have some kind of communications-aware person who is championing improvement – those churches suck way less. Even one person can improve things at least incrementally with the right training and support which CMS is great at. It’s the other churches where everyone still seems oblivious that still suck. How to spark awareness in those churches without insulting or offending is the question.

  • Tonja Conway
    July 24, 2014

    Side note – last year we began what we call “air traffic control”. It not only coordinates the planes (ministries, etc) to make sure they don’t crash into each other, but it looks at what planes should not even be involved in our airport. We’re still refining the process, but prioritizing our church goals makes communication decisions SO much easier. (And we called it air traffic control even before I heard Kem use the term at Granger! Very proud moment for me. :) )

  • Rachel Lord
    July 24, 2014

    Church marketing still sucks. Mostly because churches are so obsessed with how they do things instead of the reason why they do things. So when they go to market what they’re doing and who they are to the world, it communicates that the church is religious. Which totally defeats the purpose of spreading the gospel, because Jesus was NOT about religion- he was about relationships.

  • Designut
    July 25, 2014

    I think this article is right on point. I have been involved with church communications for a around 8 years and have seen a drastic change in the approach. The shift from quantitative to qualitative interactions with members of congregations is on the rise. Ministry leaders are starting to understand that the volume of information is not as important as making that information connection with the right person and inspire them to act. In order to facilitate this continued change you must employ, as Meyer states, “more “architect” leaders who can write the plan and call the plays.”

  • Sarah Boyette
    July 25, 2014

    If we look backward, we do see how far we’ve come, but if we look forward, we see how far we have to go. Working in a time when technology is driving products is difficult when often people can’t keep up. We’ve got some great pastors whose message is lost because they aren’t techno saavy.

  • Lauryn White
    July 25, 2014

    I think we’ve come a long way but still have lots of room for improvement. We value aesthetics more than we used to but sometimes try to substitute them for a good message. We’re more inventive in how we get the word out, but we try to say too many things all at one volume. I’m thankful for CMS and its network of professionals that help keep others of us in the trenches on point and equipped with new ideas. Thanks, and congrats on 10 years!

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