Direct Mail is still one of the most effective tools you can use to invite your community to your church however, it’s more than just mailing a postcard. In this three part article, one pastor provides insights into how he has optimized church outreach using direct mail to grow his congregation.
Hi! I’m Hal Seed, Founding Pastor of New Song Community Church. My wife and I planted New Song in 1992. Since then, we’ve seen over 19,000 come to Christ, planted 7 daughter churches and created 4 local campuses. For the past 14 years, I’ve been mentoring pastors at www.pastormentor.com. With statistics showing a decline in church attendance in recent years, I’d like to share what we’ve learned about reaching out to our community through direct mail and welcoming visitors into your church once they come. With this strategy, you can reach people who don’t regularly attend services, giving you the opportunity to connect and hopefully, become their new faith “home”.
The Case for Christian “Marketing”
First of all, I’d like to take a moment to address an issue that often comes up when discussing the idea of “marketing” one’s church. Because I’m sure you’ve encountered a few well-meaning Christians that believe that any type of “marketing” is wrong or sinful. So let me help you with this: Christians have been using “word-of-mouth” marketing to invite people to their churches for a long, long time.
Today’s tools are just a modern version of time-tested ministry practices for getting the Word out in your community. Remember, the Holy Spirit conducted one of the most effective church-marketing campaigns in Acts 2. He launched the very first church in downtown Jerusalem by sending fire from the sky onto the heads of the believers. So many people were talking about it that 3,000 became believers that very first day.
Your Church Outreach—Direct Mail is Not Dead
Recently I’ve been hearing more young pastors say they think using direct mail is a poor use of time and money. As a result, there’s a belief that the medium is the message and sending a postcard says that your church is old and out-of-date. That’s short-sighted and shallow thinking. Research shows that direct mail is still VERY effective for a lot of solid reasons.
- Direct mail is memorable. When I get a postcard from a church, or a dentist, or a realtor, the time it takes me to glance at the card leaves an impression on me. You can make your church top of mind the next time a recipient is thinking about attending a service. Mail is a physical reminder of your presence in the community.
- Repeated mailings build credibility. The first time I get a postcard from a company, I don’t think much of them. But after receiving a few postcards, I look and think, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen this before. I know this company.”
- Competition is low. A lot of churches have given up on their direct mail strategy. As a result, the field is less crowded. This makes direct mail more effective than it was just 5 or 10 years ago.
- 85% of people check their mail daily. 75% are careful to review every piece to ensure they aren’t throwing away a bargain or an important reminder. Your postcards will be scanned and your church and events will be noticed.
- Effective mailers pay for themselves. Direct mail postcards remain the most cost-effective means of mass marketing today. As much as 40% of people have tried a new business after viewing a direct mail piece. Therefore, if one family gets a postcard from us, comes to church and begins tithing, that one family pays for our entire 5,000-piece mailing. Every penny of an effective mailer will return to you within 6 months to a year through the tithes of that one family.
- Reach more people with less work. Direct mail is a powerful way to reach a broad audience without a lot of footwork. My friends at Outreach specialize in direct mail for churches and provide free consulting around outreach campaigns. They can handle your entire direct mail initiative for you.
Now that you understand the benefits of direct mail, you’re probably wondering where to begin. Knowing a few simple principles will enable you to optimize your church outreach using direct mail.