Sunday, February 18, 2007

Visitors Welcome.

What makes a church attractive to you? What characteristics of a faith community would catch your eye, pique your curiosity, encourage you to attend?

One of the things we've had to consider as we plan for this church community in Lower Manhattan is how we're going to let people know about it, how we're going to invite people to check it out... our (dare I say it?) marketing.

Marketing is a new church necessity, especially in a city the size of Manhattan. It needs to go beyond a "Visitors Welcome" phrase on a church sign (we won't even have a church sign, for pete's sake). Whatever form it takes, it needs to be honest, true, full of integrity. It needs to be warm and welcoming.

It needs to begin telling the message of Grace.

It's easy for the message to be confused, however.

Last week, a local church invested much money in the printing and distribution of a large, beautiful postcard that told of their church, their worship times, etc. A postcard was placed in the middle of every Metro, a free newspaper that many people grab on their way down the subway steps in the mornings. Daily readership is close to 500,000. Unfortunately, the postcards tended to fall out of the newspapers as people grabbed them, carpeting the sidewalk with litter. Ouch. The confused message: Come to our church, we add to the trash in the city. Come to our church, we don't care much for the environment. Come to our church, we're just like every other business that tries to shove fliers in your hands.

I don't want to be too hard on that particular church; I just want to show how easy it is for the message to be misunderstood.

Another church I've recently seen uses this line on its website: "Come check us out! We've got free Krispy Kremes and coffee after every service!" What does that imply about the values of the church? Would it encourage you to attend?


Steve & Cari said...


I think you are onto something with church marketing. Unfortunately the church has lowered itself to marketing schemes such as post cards, billboards, krispy kremes and so on. Do people really want this? It seems that our generation wants the church to BE the church. It seems that with the work of the Holy Spirit, building relationships, and preaching God's word that could be the best marketing plan.

TeSlaa said...

That is a very tough one. You can't try too hard either. I've been struggling with our church "overmarketing" themselves. You can't sound like an infomercial either. I've seen churches hand out a listing of the local pizza places and then at the bottom it says something to the extent, "if you want to be feed the word of God... abc church 555-1234." I thought it was creative but will it get people to visit? I have no idea. Tough call. I'll brainstorm for you :)

MiniMe Mom said...

We were searching for a church not that long ago. We tried out ten various churches, all of them by word of mouth.

I did go to a "training class" years ago at Willow Creek church in Chicago. They said if someone doesn't personally talk to a newcomer in the first eight seconds, they will likely never return. Not sure how true that is, but food for thought, anyway.