PR and the Church

How can Churches reach the press? If your church is living out the Gospel and making a difference in the community, you will simply need to share what you are doing with the media. I hear complaints about how the media has a negative view of Christians and portray them harshly, but what are you doing to change that image? Is your church doing good by clothing the homeless, feeding the hungry, and caring for the fatherless and the widows? Let the media know what your church is about. There are plenty of good reporters out there who would love to do a feel-good story.

Imagine the impact your church could have if every time someone opened the newspaper there you are! Imagine people saying, “Oh look what that Marketing Genius Church is doing today. Do they ever stop doing good?”

In a way the Bible is a PR piece. It is not paid advertising, and the people who wrote were recording the facts like it was news. In fact the word Gospel means Good News. So the next time your church does a service project, make sure to share the Good News with your community.

You can post press releases for free on sites like PRZoom. Give it a try.

Passing the Plate

Passing the plate for offering is not visitor friendly. I have family members who believe the Church is in business to make money- that is why the Church passes the plate. When I explain to my family they do not need to give to the offering, they still feel pressured to put something in when the plate is passed to them. Although the speaker gives a disclaimer that it is not necessary for visitors to give, my family still feels obliged to put in money under these circumstances.

Although giving to the Church is a sacrament and a responsibility for all Christians, does it need to be done publicly? Perhaps it would be better for Christians to give in secret?

"When you give to the poor, don't let anyone know about it. Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you." (Matthew 6:3-4)

An alternative is to give members a way to tithe by placing offering plates in the back of the church, or by letting members mail in their offerings. People already motivated to give will find a way to present their offering without a plate being passed to them in their seat on Sunday morning. Think customer service; don’t scare away your customers (visitors) by being inflexible.

Is Your Church for Everyone?

An important part of marketing is to pick a target audience. But, Isn’t the Church for Everyone?

Yes, the Church is for everyone, but the style or gifting of your particular local congregation may not appeal to everyone. If you try to appeal to everyone, you are more likely to appeal to no one. So if someone is looking for a rock and roll style Christian music service yet you sing hymns, he or she might be better off attending another church. The competition for churches is not other churches, but Satan. As long as people are going to church somewhere, you have won. Therefore, you need to do your homework, stop making excuses and figure out the best way to communicate to the local people walking in your doors (or find out why they aren’t walking in the door).

The great Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer speaks of the Church’s challenge of meeting the unique demands of its age. This means that in every era the Church faces new competition for the hearts of people. It is incumbent upon each generation to define and meet any challenge to knowledge of God.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

You challenge is to determine what influences your particular church body is opposing and how best to face them in a modern context. Putting together a marketing plan is part of the process of effectively reaching your community.

Beating the Competition

Who is competing with you for the souls of the people in your community? I have heard pastors talk about how they will draw more people than another church in their community because of logistics or programs. But are other churches the competition?

Your church is competing for the time and attention of people who don't know God. There are plenty of other things to keep them busy:

  • job
  • kids
  • football
  • sleep
  • tv
Since all churches share the same goal of bringing people to Christ, why not form partnerships and do more together? Your competition is not other churches, it's Satan.

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35

Second Best Ain't Good Enough

One of my pet peeves is passing off second rate stuff as "good enough" because it is by or for Christians. If you are representing Christ you better be leading the pack, not following behind. The Church should be a leader of culture, but it seems to lag behind.

A few weeks ago I attended a service at Windsor Crossing. The service was done by the youth group and it is one of the best Sunday mornings I have had in a long time. It is refreshing to see talented young people giving their best for God. These guys rocked, and did some really cool lighting and video stuff that I have never seen before.

I told my wife that I don't remember ever seeing something in a church service that impressed me or made me wonder how they pulled it off. Churches today are still patting themselves on the back for using overheads or projectors- big deal. These kids had me saying this is cool, how did they do that, and getting emotional. I have a pretty intlellectual approach to God. I love to worship with my mind. It was a great feeling to be a part of something excellent and I found myself getting emotional too.

If we really want to reach our culture we need to be leaders not followers. When non-Christians want to be a part of a Christian event because it is superior we will be doing our jobs.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

What are Churches Marketing?

In traditional business you keep score by how much money you make. Therefore good marketing means more money. How do churches measure their success?

Churches are not looking to make money, they are looking to save souls. Fundraising and communicating the importance of good stewardship are important goals for churches, but if that is all they do they have failed.

Churches exist to save souls by bringing people into a relationship with Jesus. This may seem straightforward, but how does your church measure success? A pastor friend of mine was moved to tears when he visited a neighboring church and they showed a video of dozens of people getting baptized. I asked him how many people had come to Christ through his church the last few years and he said he did not know, but it was not many.

Before a church considers undertaking a marketing campaign they need to know what they are trying to accomplish. What does a building campaign build? A more efficient point of contact with people who need Christ, or more space for the members?

What goals does your church have for producing results that matter? Creating internal programs for members is not what we are called to do. How many people did your church reach for Christ in 2006? How many will you reach this year?

FoxFaith, DirecTV offer churches free satellite TV and exclusive screenings of upcoming films

Seems like Christians are never happy about the culture. This story from Christianity Today says that studios are giving pastors satellites so that they can screen films first. The reaction from Christian critics is not positive.

When I was a film student Christians were clamoring for Hollywood to produce more family friendly fair. Now that they are making such films they are accused of being in it for the money.

Hey, they ARE in it for the money because Hollywood is a for profit industry. I have been waiting for them to wake up and see the market for family friendly and Christian films. Now that they are making faith based films and PG13 productions they are accused of being greedy.

Hollywood has not changed. So which would you rather have, a greedy Hollywood making sex and slasher films or Christian and family films? I'll take the latter.

Does Your Website Attract or Repel Potential Visitors?

Tony Morgan gives 10 Easy Ways to Keep Me from Visiting Your Church Because I Visited Your Website

1 Avoid telling me what's going to happen at your church this weekend
2 Put a picture of your building on the main page
3 Use lots of purple and pink and add pictures of flowers
4 Make me click a "skip intro" or "enter site" link
5 Add as many pictures and graphics as you can to the main page
6 Use amateur photography
7 List every single ministry you have at your church
8 Make it as difficult as possible for me to get directions, services times, or find information about what will happen with my kids
9 Put a picture of your pastor with his wife on the main page
10 Try to sell your church rather than telling me how I will benefit from the experience

Some churches are still arguing that marketing is a dirty word while most churches feel pressure to do something. Having a website is not enough without a strategy behind it. The best strategy is to show what a cool loving place you are to meet Jesus and his followers.

Is Marketing In the Bible?

The folks at the Church Marketing Sucks blog tackle the question of whether or not markting is in the Bible.

"In The Message version, 2 Corinthians 10:4 says, "The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture."

Boy that does not sound like a ringing endorsement of marketing. But if you define marketing as the process of effective communication then the whole book is about marketing. Not only how Christians should be spreading the word, but how God communicated to a chosen people and even became a man in order to overcome communication barriers.

God is the original marketing genius.

BenefitBar Helps Churches Stay in Touch and Raise Funds

Check out this cool way to raise funds for your church. BenefitBar is an easy to get toolbar for your Internet browser. The toolbar keeps you connected with important info related to your church, and they benefit when you search from the built in Yahoo! search engine.

This is an innovative way to use the new technology available and leverage the power of Marketing 2.0.

I have to disclose that I helped get this set up and designed the logo and tagline. I am not a part of the company but I am extremely impressed with the way BenefitBar team has grown this project. Take a look at the many toolbars they have already created here.

If you are looking for a great tool to increase communication with your members and earn some extra money check out BenefitBar.

United Church calls for ban on bottled water

United Church calls for ban on bottled water. Church officials say people are paying taxes for their water and then purchasing it again from the grocery when there is no reason not to drink tap water. There are also criticism of the 'Big 4' companies (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Danone, Nestle), including price gouging, misleading marketing and labeling.

Strategy for church growth splits congregants

The Purpose Driven methodology seems to be causing controversy and schisms as the strategy for church growth splits congregants. Is Rick Warren a Luther in disguise? Warren says not to use the exact same model of his congregation as each local body is different. That does not stop the copy cats from trying to impose a Southern California model on their home churches. Some people don't read the fine print.

Indulge in Some Papal Souvenirs

Spiegel reports on the Holy Kitsch:

"The souvenir items run the gamut from fashion (a Ratzinger hat), to food (the Ratzi bratwurst), to alcoholic beverages (Benedict Beer) to china (Ratzinger teacups). Someone has even come up with the idea of an eraser bearing the pope's likeness. It's called the 'Ratzefummel.'"

I guess it is not as bad as selling salvation, and some of this stuff is kinda cool. I still have my JPII pennant from the Rose Bowl.

Church offers salvation at the gas pump

NorthStar Church is offering savings, but this article seems to think they offer salvation at the gas pump. Not everyone agrees with the plan:

"Ken Williams of Saratoga Springs, an ordained pastor who organized three consecutive annual 'Ride Your Bike to Work Days' to conserve gas, called the buy-down smart but misguided marketing. 'It sounds to me like they are paying 50 cents per a person's gallon of gas in a way to promote their church, like any other business would take out an ad,' he said."

If the point of an ad is to communicate your message, what's the problem? Williams assumes that advertising is bad for some reason. What do you think of this promotion?

666- The MARKeting of the Beast

June 6th is the perfect time for some to Market the Beast:

"For some Armageddon believers, it represents the date upon which the Antichrist will spread universal evil over the Earth.
For marketers, 666 has also become an ideal date -- to launch movies, records, books and other products or events, particularly those with religious undertones."

Most of the knowledge of ordinary people comes from movies and their interpretation of scripture. Your church can take advantage of these opportunities ti start conversations about the Bible.

Count churches among Oilers faithful

The Edomonton Journal says you can Count churches among Oilers faithful:

"The one-sentence sermon usually found on the sign in front of McDougall United Church was replaced last week with something less preachy but just as pithy: 'Go Oilers Go.' Church signs cheering on the Oilers have been popping up all over the city this playoff season. It's 'godvertising' with a hockey twist, and it's all part of the effort to fill church pews."