Church Marketing

October 23, 2006

The New York Times has an interesting article that is entitled, “Prepare Thee for Some Serious Marketing.” It talks about attempts by churches to communicate to their communities in order to bring people to God. Here are a couple of highlights:

Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek, has used business-world strategies — notably branding and word-of-mouth marketing — to help the church grow from 125 congregants 30 years ago into the megachurch it is today. While Mr. Hybels says he does not use marketing techniques to spread God’s word, “we do attempt to harness the full potential of modern technology and business strategies to communicate with our members and our community.”

... The new messages — from Willow Creek and other nondenominational churches to mainstream denominations like the Episcopal and the United Methodist churches — tend to focus on connectedness, theology and shared values.

According to academics, including Robert B. Whitesel, who teaches at Indiana Wesleyan University, that change represents a shift from some past marketing efforts, which sought to make church more fun and inviting to baby boomers.

... “What makes this kind of advertising so effective is that it reaches an audience that isn’t in the traditional church cycle,” said the Rev. Robert Chase, the Church of Christ’s communications director. “But they are still looking for a spiritual home.”
It is an interesting article that talks about the importance of building relationships and reaching people. The marketing ideas are just a way to accomplish those more important goals. Hopefully, this is a sign that churches and denominations are becoming wiser in their communication strategies.

Thanks to the Daily Episcopalian blog for pointing out this story.

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