For many church leaders, “marketing” becomes a dirty word when applied to ministry. After all, we associate it with the marketplace — the buying and selling of goods, profits, the money-changers at the temple. Marketing is for commerce and business, not charitable work and the salvation of souls…right?

It’s easy to understand why many church leaders don’t want to do “church marketing.” The Church is not a business out to make a profit nor sell its services. Adding to the distaste, many of the common marketing practices today are manipulative, impersonal, self-interested and immoral. They are incompatible with the Christian life.

But good marketing — marketing done right — indeed applies very powerfully to the work of the Church. After all, the work of the Church requires us to engage in the marketplace (of ideas and otherwise). And most importantly, it means sharing something of great value with people who desperately need it (but don’t know about it yet) — people who are overwhelmed by noise and the endless interests competing for their attention.

That’s marketing: figuring out how to communicate the value of something we have to offer. Not only is it essential to our mission, but, quite frankly, it’s something the Church hasn’t done so well at it in recent decades.

We need help communicating the Truth to this culture and in this climate. We need help convincing people of the value of our communities, events and programs. We need help breaking through the noise out there. We need help presenting our ideas so that they catch fire, rather than fizzle out. This is precisely what good marketers do.

Marketing is how we tell our story in a compelling way. Sadly, most churches are not telling their stories very well. They are doing amazing, inspiring, life-changing things, but not enough people know about them. We are still struggling to communicate the great value of what we have to offer.

Whether you want to call it “church marketing” or not, the Church can certainly learn a lot from good marketers. And it’s up to church leaders everywhere, who understand the needs of the Church, to become proficient in marketing best-practices in order to apply them appropriately and successfully to the important work of the Church.

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2 comments on “Is “marketing” a dirty word for the Church?

  • I agree that for some people the word “marketing” implies self-promotion and sales, and they don’t want their church doing that. So, calling “outreach” or something else, but it’s still all about telling stories about what God is doing within the church and inviting others to be a part of it.

    • Agreed, Paul. We need to use marketing techniques to reach out to our flocks. Marketing experts know a lot of great psychology! We ought to be using what has been learned about how to reach, engage, and activate people in order to grow the Kingdom and bring people closer to Christ. Thanks for your help, Flocknote! And I’ll put a plug in for eCatholic websites, which embed Flocknote. Our Flocknote outreach just keeps growing, because it’s so easy to sign up, right from our website!

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