No one wants to think about “marketing” the church or church marketing best practices. The terms sound commercial and can make is seem like there is a lack of faith that God will bring in visitors. But in today’s post-Christian society, churches can no longer count on having visitors show up just because the doors are open.
You also cannot count on people in your community feeling like they “need” to go to church. Today, your church is competing with other priorities every Sunday morning: Sports, shopping, outdoor activities, brunch and even extra sleep. Using basic marketing principles to tell people why they need church and why they should choose your church just makes good sense.
So here are some church marketing best practices that will help you reach out:
Know who you want to reach.
Yes, you want to reach everyone with the Gospel. However, you will have better success reaching out if you pick a specific audience, then tailor your message and your ministries to that group. Most churches target young families. but a close examination of your community might tell you something valuable that points you in a completely different direction.
A few years ago, the church I was involved with moved to a new location just two miles down the road. Suddenly, we were surrounded by mobile home parks and a retirement village. We didn’t even have a seniors’ ministry yet! But, once we knew we had a “built-in” audience that was over 65, we worked hard to welcome and create programs for them. Now it’s a thriving ministry full of people who are also serve in other areas around the church. The church has a great multi-generational congregation.
Use clear, benefit-oriented language.
You understand that your services are “spirit-filled and spirit-led.” But, to someone who has never stepped foot in the doors of a church, that sounds like something out of the latest scary movie. When you are promoting your church through an ad, direct mail postcard or even a banner, use language that the average 10 year old would understand and find inviting.
And, there is nothing wrong with sharing some of the benefits of attending your church. When doing so, keep the message simple. “You’re invited to God’s church for a special series that will help you be a better parent!” is a great invitation. It’s simple and includes a benefit that most parents would find attractive.
Invite to an event or special day.
Giving people a reason to come is as important as showing them the benefits. Sending an invitation that only tells your audience to come to church won’t be terribly effective. Like a business offering a sale, you need to give people a reason to come. But, unlike a business, churches don’t have “sales” that entice people to come in. Create an attractive event that excites people. Thankfully, the church calendar does a pretty good job of providing some built-in events, like Christmas and Easter. There are also other events you can plan that can draw visitors. These ideas will get you started:
- Back to School/Back to Church
- VBS/Summer Day Camps
- Harvest Festivals/Halloween Alternatives
- Movie Nights
- Guest Speakers
- Spring Fling Carnivals
- Marriage or Financial Seminars
So, what is the best method for marketing your church? Look for Part 2 of this article to learn more church marketing best practices. In the meantime, tell us your most creative outreach event ideas! Visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/outreachinc