Every organization is marketing their product, whether they intend to or not. What does this have to do with your church or ministry? Perhaps more than you know. After all, your product is salvation and the product designer is God the Son, Jesus Christ. This makes you and your lead team the “pitch men,” if you will.
In an interview with Leadership Journal’s Drew Dyck, Andy Stanley and Tim Keller share their unique perspectives on what many see as a controversial topic. Do marketing, promotion and branding have any place at all in the pulpit and as viable methodology as a whole? Are sound doctrinal preaching, teaching and simple evangelistic efforts (personal and corporate) sufficient to fulfill the Great Commission in the 21st century?
Read the following excerpts and then let me know your thoughts…
Andy Stanley – “People really hate to use the term marketing, but the truth is every church is presenting itself. The question is whether they’re doing it well. A lot of churches are empty because they’ve successfully presented to the community that there’s nothing here for you. And everybody believes it!
Marketing is about perception. You work to create a perception, which hopefully reflects the reality. Being intentional about how we present ourselves in the community is crucial. But it’s not about billboards. We don’t have a billboard. We don’t buy radio spots. We don’t have ads in the newspaper. Our marketing is our service in the community. Our marketing is our generosity to charities in the community. Our marketing is providing volunteers for other organizations. That’s the best kind of marketing. Some people use leaflets and billboards. We don’t do any of that. It’s not necessary. But churches do need to pay attention to their reputation in the community. And if it’s not what it should be, they have to address that.
Of course if people aren’t even aware you’re in the community, you have a marketing problem. If they know you’re there but the perception is negative, you have a marketing problem. So you have to do something. Don’t be afraid of that. Just accept this as the world we live in, and figure out a way to reshape your reputation in the community.”
Tim Keller says – “The critique is that the church has overused, maybe unconsciously, business marketing techniques. And I think that critique is probably half right. Whenever people talk to me about marketing, I say, “Tell me what marketing is.” Some of what they usually describe seems like common-sense, wise communication. Some of it seems like manipulation. I commend wise communication, not the other parts that make me cringe.
I do feel that a lot of urban churches overdo it in this area. They create a façade. They have incredible websites and terrific published pieces. Their physical environments have a slickness and hipness about them. Some people are shocked to find none of that when they visit Redeemer. One person said, “It wasn’t what I expected at all. Number one: There were no screens, no clips. It was very print-oriented. Very retro.” This person also pointed out that I was an older guy, white hair, bald, and wearing a suit. He said, “This isn’t my idea of an urban church at all.” I found that amusing. But I think it shows that a lot of urban churches put way too much emphasis on branding and façade and first impressions.
I think the key is substance. Urban people recognize when they’re being spun and do not respond well to that. I think a lot of times people feel like there’s something more authentic about a place that doesn’t have the screens, doesn’t have the slick sites, and doesn’t have a young, hip-looking person up front. It can backfire on you.”
What is my perspective on the subject? Simply this… put it out there in the preferred languages and media of your target audience. This means not being afraid to passionately promote what God is doing in and through your life and ministry and then giving Him all the credit. Nothing replaces the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit in partnership with a lead team unashamed to promote His Word and His kingdom!
I look forward to hearing from you. Please, let me know how I can come alongside you and your ministry to encourage and equip!
Excerpts taken from Leadership Journal, Fall 2012, Balancing Acts