First, thanks so much for the comments on my previous post. It’s great to read your thoughts.

I think in the name of fairness, I should point out that – for the most part – I don’t personally believe (nor wish to believe) that churches go around maliciously stealing sermons, designs, ideas as a regular business practice. However, I do know that there are exceptions, but mostly it comes down to a lack of education. Churches aren’t saavy to the world of marketing and advertising. They’ve never had to be. They don’t really know what graphic design is, or why they would need such a thing. On top of that, they don’t value design & marketing, and something without value is without a price tag. So they don’t realize that using another churche’s design is plagiarism and, in essence, stealing.

I’ve never heard of a graduate with a preaching degree who minored in Marketing. I don’t think “Church Marketing 101” is something that Christian universities and Seminaries teach their students. Marketing certainly isn’t a tool preaching programs make sure their grads are armed with. It’s because marketing is a dirty word in churches. It’s the “M” word.

The reason is that churches, along with a great percentage of the public, feel that advertising and marketing is the same thing as lying. It’s tricking people into buying into something they don’t need. While I cannot deny that this exists in the corporate world of buying and selling, this is not the type of marketing and advertising I am advocating for churches.

I don’t think there is a church for everyone. I don’t think there should be. Each church has it’s own personality and it’s own style. If it’s not the style for you, than you should move on and find a church that you want to be involved with. If each church has it’s own style, than each church should do a little research, find out what kind of person finds them appealing and target those people. Casting a narrower net, if you will.

How? The big M.

By truthfully advertising who you are and the experience a visitor can expect, and getting your unique message to the right people, is marketing. If you over-promise and disappoint a visitor than you failed. Once the marketing has gotten the people in the door, it is the solid branding of your church that will keep the experience alive and make it easier for your members to become involved and stay involved in supporting your message and your mission.

Churches that understand this principle, understand that they usually don’t possess the resources in-house to create and execute a successful advertising and marketing campaign – if they were so inclined to attempt one. Luckily there are tons of freelance designers, photographers, marketing and design companies, and small ad agencies that actually know how to do this sort of thing – and are usually willing to work within a church’s small budget (even pro bono if you catch them in the right mood…). These people are professionals. They have training and expertise. I feel that churches should rely more on lay people, in every aspect of running a church, but especially in dynamic marketing. In essence, when it comes to marketing and advertising for your church,  you get what you pay for.

Churches shouldn’t be afraid of being cutting edge. They should be afraid of becoming irrelevant and unnoticed.