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Sometimes Christian can be mean. They can get so stuck in their world that they do not notice those around them. I have witnessed this at several churches I have been to. It scares me how narrowly focused we can be.
I went to one church from the time I was little until the time I was finished with seventh grade. That church was my home away from home. They were my family, my closet friends, and it was the place I ran to when things got tough. Then we moved because my dad got a new job. I was scared the first time I went to church. The adults that taught my Sunday school class were nice enough, but I found the youth group to be very cliquish. Suddenly I did not want to go to church. It was not a haven; it was not a place I felt comfortably at. I went to church because my parents told me to, because I had to. That was the worst feeling that I have ever had. I hated not feeling welcomed or at home at my church. I would hate to know how many people have walked into my church or youth group feeling that same way, unwelcomed and unwanted. I try to welcome people with a genuine smile. But I fear that sometimes I fail.
My passion for church marketing comes from my own experiences of feeling unwelcomed in a church. I do not think that anyone should have to feel that way. I do not think we are acting like Christ when people come to our church and leave feeling that way. It is my hope to see the church continually to improve on this. No one wants to walk into a church and feel like an outsider with all eyes on them. I know I do not want to.
Unfortunately I have been to several churches for my first time and have felt unwelcomed, and I never wanted to go back. It soured me against the church. I do not want to be the reason that someone leaves a church and never comes back. I want to be that smiling face that makes them feel welcomed and loved. I want them to be able to feel like they belong. I want them to be able to be comfortable, to know where things are, and to not be afraid of returning. I want Christ’s love to fill me and to overflow onto all people, especially those that visit my church. So for all those who feel like outcasts and like they are unwelcomed and unloved at church, let me say that I am sorry. I am sorry that we lose focus on what true love of Christ looks like, and it is my passion to do better.
The next time I walk into church and see someone getting a cup of coffee I will be tempted to walk up to them and say, “Javalujah!”
Is this what church has become? Frankly, the fact that this comparison/parable even exists scares me.
Starbucks is focused on selling a product, and that’s it. Sure, they might also be focused on saving the environment on earth day, but is there any depth past the numbers? When you market the church is it focused on selling a product?
If churches focus too much on “selling” church as a product, or focusing too much on running it like a business, then church wil become cold and number focused. Now I think Starbucks is great. I’m not trying to say anything bad about Starbucks or its employees. I am sure that they are all great people. I am simply drawing comparisons between church and a business. I ask if Starbucks, as a general whole, genuinely cares about the people that walk through the door? I would think that for most businesses those people are just a number, money in the cash register.
I would argue that church marketing does not have to be focused on making the church run more like a business. The focus of church marketing should be on the people that can be reached. It’s about creating a warm, loving, inviting environment, making visitors feel like they are welcomed no matter if they are new or what they are wearing, it’s about truly welcoming them with the love of Christ. It’s about getting your church out there and making it known that people are welcome. It’s about making opportunities for real, genuine growth of a person through events for children, small groups, searching, learning, and fellowship with followers of Christ.
When you go to a Starbucks do they really care about the people that come in or what they truly need? A person who walks into Starbucks may be searching for more than just their morning cup of coffee, but do all baristas at Starbucks really care about filling that need? I’m sure some of them do, maybe even a majority of them. They may greet you with a “hey, welcome to Starbucks,” but do they really mean to welcome you in with open and accepting arms?
It’s scary to think that the church can fall into the trap of fitting in with the consumerism of the world around us. People can just become a number of people who have been in a service on Sunday. Are those that are being saved just a number added to the stats sheet or is their something more? What is their story? How did they come to Christ? What is their life all about? Are the people walking into your church every Sunday just a number or a creation of Christ to be known and loved?
If your visitors aren’t returning are you too much like a Starbucks? There are Starbucks all over the country, and people hop from Starbucks to Starbucks as a matter of convenience. Do people stick to a certain one because they really care or because they have good service? Do you target your worship service so that everyone will love it and come back for the service or is there something more?
Do you communicate the message of Christ’s love to everyone who comes in the door? Do they know without a doubt that they are welcomed and accepted? Do you follow up? Do you see real, honest, heart-change in the people that your church encounters?
These are the questions that churches need to ask themselves through how they are marketing themselves. What is the community perception of the church? Are you a church that satisfies the outer wants (I need coffee) or do you address the inner needs of people (the need for Christ and a Christ-filled community).
One closing thought: has church become just another Starbucks (or any business)? Do you go there just to get a cup of coffee and surface fellowship? Or is there a deeper need that the church is filling? Something that cannot have a price tag put with it?
Well, since I’ve never blogged before this should be an adventure.
I have always been passionate about marketing. I always thought I would work at a business and have profound ideas about selling products. That was until someone asked me, “how does working in marketing really contribute to the kingdom of God?”
Um..I don’t know.
So then I started researching a lot about Church Marketing. I’m still majoring in marketing, but I try to view them through the lens of seeing the church grow. It’s hard to focus on something that doesn’t really exist . . . there are like three books written about church marketing. I am excited about searching and growing myself in my search for and thoughts about how the church can grow and mature through marketing.
How do you market (sell) the church without making the church sell-out?
Church marketing is vital to any part of a church. We do it without really thinking about it. A church will not grow if it is not reaching out through marketing to reach out to the community.