In my opinion, Church advertising is one of those gray areas. depending on which angle you look at the way some churches advertise, you can make a case for unethical practices or just poor stewardship. The hard part is figuring out if there is a line to draw or even if there should be any boundaries at all. It’s hard for me to determine at what point do we treat the church like a business, or treat it like a family? I mention four questions below that i believe could help us determine some boundaries.
Do we rely on it too much?
How much is too much? Truthfully, I don’t know. I believe that God gave us resources to use as tools to reach people. So, I’m not one of those who believes that we shouldn’t advertise or build church buildings just because you can’t find a verse for it in the New Testament.
I am worried that we rely too much on our advertising to attract others to the city on the hill instead of using the light to attract. What i mean is that our actions should shine a light that reflects Jesus Christ onto the world. Advertising is not bad as long as those who come get some light when they show up. If you use advertising to bring people there, and promos to keep people there, then that’s when i believe we rely on it too much.
Wood, hay, and stubble make can make a lot of light when they are burned, but the fire only lasts for a few moments. On the other hand – gold, silver, & precious stones emit an everlasting glow, and do not decay. How much light would your fellowship have once the flare, and blazes of your promotions burned out? If i say it more directly. . . how much light does your fellowship once the flare of the Sunday performance ends?
Do we spend too much on it?
I realize there is no price limit on how much we should spend to gain 1 soul. But the opposing truth is that if all we had to do was spend money, then i think we would be a lot more successful then we have been. As stewards of God’s kingdom, i think there’s one word to sum up our role – investors. A steward is much more than a person who can keep his master’s possessions safe. A good steward uses wisdom to multiply his master’s wealth.
This is my opinion, but i believe we spend too much money on those who we think are going to deserve God’s grace. We love investing in the middle-class American. If we had to advertise to the poor, then our advertising would be most effective through charitable actions. Advertising to the poor takes a lot of humility, time, and has very little recursive benefits.
One of our struggles as humans is to see the potential that some earthly investments have over others in heaven. That’s why I think most of us are complacent with putting more money in advertising dollars than in humanitarian efforts. The truth be told, if we wish to advertise Jesus the Christ, find out how Jesus asked us to advertise. And then advertise your advertisement. Make sense? :)
Is Marketing Evanglism?
I don’t think that advertisements need to have a gospel presentation embedded in it. So, maybe this is one of those gray areas. I think the bottom line with advertising is that we should be seeking the lost, or those who need Christian fellowship and accountability. It seems that some churches really lose site of that.
Some churches think their advertising campaign is a PR tool to promote their popularity. It says nothing about Jesus Christ, and when you go to their advertised events, still nothing is said about Jesus Christ. More or less, it’s either a self help seminar, a warm and fuzzy message, or a concert. I think my statement above applies well to this. Find out what Jesus asked us to advertise, then advertise that.
Maybe it’s OK that our goals are strictly for social reasons instead of Gospel reasons? Maybe we can advertise concerts just to break down social barriers – so that people know Christians can have fun as well? Must we always be on the offensive as Christians? I know I am asking a lot of questions, but like i said, there can be a lot of gray areas when it comes to this topic. I don’t think i have this all figured out yet.
What are the pros and cons?
1. It spreads awareness – There’s nothing wrong with telling people – this is what we do, and this is where we stand.
2. It nags people – The consistent reminder here and there wouldn’t hurt.
3. You can focus on certain demographics – Targeting age groups and certain cultures is an effective way to communicate that visitors will feel welcome and comfortable around those who are like them.
1. It costs money – According to Center for Church Communication in 2005 “80% of churches spend less than $10,000 on marketing and promotions each year (includes bulletins, newsletters, web sites, mailings, etc.)”. That figure seems lower than i expected. Don’t know how they come up with their numbers.
2. It’s used as bait – Usually you are not going to advertise the penalty of sin, and that we all deserve to burn in hell. More than likely you are going to advertise a concert, some self help sermons, or a pot-luck dinner or something.
I don’t think I’ve come to any solid conclusions here. Like i said, i have questions, and i see a lot of gray areas. I think this is partly because i don’t believe that Church is an event that occurs on Sundays. So, why should we judge how we prepare for that day different than we would any other day. The important thing is that we are a family, but there’s no laws against using business techniques. Bottom line- Christians have a job to do,- we have the liberty to use resources to get the message out- and we should be wise stewards.
Do you have any Pros or Cons that you wish to add to churches spending money on marketing? Do you think i was wrong with my analysis anywhere?