Friday, August 26, 2005

Marketing and Faith: Do they Mix?

I have graciously been given this book by the author. Part of my way thanking him for the book is by reviewing parts of the book on this blog.

One of the interesting comments in the book so far was his discussion of marketing and faith. He was talking about how people who market aren't trying to manipulate people when they try and sell them something. In truth, "Marketing is about confirming choices and providing options."

A lot of people who are in churches are big on church marketing. So they talk about making the church more visible or attractive. Much of evangelistic and church growth strategy is based on marketing your church well, according to many of the experts, so that people will want to come and attend your church. The sad thing is, if this person is correct, when we market our churches we are preaching to the choir of the committed. Thus, most of our preaching in our churches is about pastors comforting people with truths they already agree with. And thus most of our churches are about confirmation of previously held beliefs instead of spiritual transformation. How sad!

If we are about marketing our church we are not at all about reaching newcomers, but about building loyalty from our base and stealing customers from our competitors. So then, true church growth is much harder than simply marketing.

It also means that preaching and church worship are effective at recruiting the interested, but that we cannot depend on these central parts of the life of our church to evangelize anyone but those who are already pretty close to commiting their lives to Christ anyway.


Brotha Buck said...

Another thought: I was reading a book, I forget the title, but its about raising boys, and its by the same author as Point Man. Anyway, he spoke about the feminization of the modern church. How modern churchs are soft, nice, nonoffensive, pretty places. He talked about how those pastors maybe have the best of intentions at heart, but that speaking the truth of the bible takes a back seat to being nice and friendly. And the truth ain't always nice, or inviting.

Oricon Ailin said...

I think this is one thing I am very glad about with our church. Our priest tells it like it is. In your face, sometimes a bit threatening, and informative.

I'm not talking fire and brimstone here, I'm just talking about exposing some of the not-so-friendly things in the Bible. I like that.

Having a church that is too open, too friendly and too "politcally correct" loses the purpose of the teachings. Jesus didn't walk around spreading flower petals and humming all the time. I believe he tried to teach the lessons in the best way possible, and sometimes they were hard lessons. I think we need to hear the same today.

Kim Traynor said...

I tried to comment earlier, but my computer ate my post...

At the Summit last month a parallel was drawn between Southwest Airlines and Willow Creek Community Church.

Southwest Airline has been such a trend setter because it targets a demographic of people who don't usually fly, and sees its competition as cars and trains instead of other airlines.

A Harvard business professor who has studied Willow Creek says that it is remarkable for having "marketed" itself to a demographic that is unchurched. That means that rather than seeing other churches as competition, Willow sees activities that unchurched people would like to do with their weekends,like watch TV or play sports, as its competition.

The idea that "marketing" (or trying to communicate relevance to a targeted group of people) is inherently "preaching to the choir" is not true. In fact, marketing, whether you are a business or a church, that preaches to the choir would be poor marketing by any standards. Nair wants their marketing to appeal to women who don't use their product, and churches want to share the gospel with those who haven't heard it.