When you’re not sure what to say
In the desert.
…challenged by the question
Market the church or market the message?
Seek the seeker, or just manage the status quo?
If you think your church doesn’t do marketing, think again.
If you do outreach, you do marketing. But marketing your church is about more than growth, it’s also about keeping it real to keep who you already have – people in the pews.
Seekers are savvy, in front of you every Sunday. Reaching them can feel canned.
FACT: They don’t care what you have to tell them.
FACT: A vast majority are convinced you want their money.
They question the church’s integrity and what your organization really stands for. People are hungry for real deal relationships, not religion.
…WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?On the subject of your flock…
Sheep are stupid. People ARE NOT!
We all come to church for many reasons; but what keeps us there can include an entire set of different ones. People don’t come to church anymore because it’s the social norm. In a post-modern society, blind faith is not the driving force and this generation, especially the younger set are driven by a whole different set of values and factors. What gets them there and what keeps them coming back depends more than ever on a carefully orchestrated set of events working in tandem, in an integrated approach.
According to Steven Clark Goad, contributing writer for Grace Centered Magazine people leave the church for a plethora of reasons, some “valid” and some more hedonistic. He states that it all comes down to building relationships.
“… studies have revealed that if new members in a church do not connect with at least three others that befriend them and help disciple them, they will drop out within six months.” (Goad, 2012)
Leave a child to itself and fail to nurture it, it will die. Food is not enough. Feeding the flock with great messages isn’t sufficient today. People are hungry for connections, for authentic relationships, for relevancy. Social media isn’t the answer, it’s just part of the orchestration.
How will you connect? The art of connections is asking questions. Every aspect of your church’s operation that actively engages with people either in person or virtually reflects right back to you. Whether it’s worship or community outreach, evaluating your contact points is tantamount to creating your church “brand”, a value that people respond to. Lisa Fortini-Campbell provides a model for evaluating and creating contact points which we’ve adapted here:
- What are all the contact points that visitors or community members notice in the course of their experience with your church?
- How do they interpret these contact points, and which ones are most important to them?
- How do their interpretations gel to become their idea of your “brand” i.e. what defines your church? (2003, p.64)
Like steps across a pond, contact points come together to become the total picture, allowing interactions to occur seamlessly, maintaining a positive flow between you and your public. Anything that creates a diversion or a hindrance affects the flow.
You want your nursery to be a safe haven for parents to leave their children. But if the process of check-in becomes so involved that it’s counter productive, you haven’t created a family friendly church. What does your bulletin look like? Is it too personal? Will visitors “get it?” Does it speak only to members’ interests that visitors feel like outsiders? Are your bathrooms an inviting place to be? Do your greeters really know what greeter ministry means? Have you LISTENED to your band lately?
It’s the challenge of any organization to create contact points that have so thoroughly thought about every angle of interaction that positive encounters are a regular happening. In this way, your brand creates a connection that stimulates interest, drives loyalty, and creates value.
Of course, church is not about the band or the bathroom, bulletins, or nurseries. It’s about Christ and furthering His Kingdom. Today’s church shouldn’t be a complex thing, but our society is, and to connect with people out there, you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Value is a commodity the church can’t afford to ignore if it hopes to reach the lost.
The fact that “what one knows and sees depends upon where one stands or sits” (Brueggemann, 1993, p.8) is at the heart of how people perceive the church experience. Communicating value is about knowing who you want to reach and what it takes to reach them. You’re not going to reach a community with 57% unemployment if you plant a church in their midst and hire outside laborers. You probably won’t reach the local retirement community with a free concert that features your church’s band playing Christian Screamo or rap music. The essence of your narrative or story is one that has to reflect local relevance that works together with what people perceive locally to be the truth and speak to multiple needs and wants.
It has to integrate what is known to be true while evolving with the times.
You just can’t be content to do church as usual.
It’s a “buyer’s” market. If you’re not selling what people are looking to buy, you’ll miss it. Remember, sheep are stupid, people are not. Nipping at their heals to join your flock like Border Collies isn’t going to corral them in. Find ways to learn your customer’s world then incorporate those in to contact points in as many ways as is possible to create a world within and outside your four walls that feels like home. Home is where the heart is. And where the heart is, they’ll find your home the place they want to be.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
1 Corinthians 9:22