Category Archives: marketing
What I am about to say, I do not say lightly. I have been praying about this for years and I believe that God is leading me down this path. I believe that God wants me to plant churches. I am on a journey where the future is completely unknown and must fall squarely in the hands of God Himself. And there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be. From here, it gets a tad less “heavy.”
When it comes to church planting, there is a lot to ponder. Until I feel the spark to talk about other areas of church planting, I want to go ahead and offer a few tips to church planters and future church planters out there. This post will deal specifically with your church’s name. When it comes right down to it, your church name is going to be the center piece of your marketing, it will reflect who you are, what your values are, everything. You are setting out to change the world for Jesus and chances are the first impression people have of you will be your church name. That’s why the church name is almost as important as financial funding (insert hilarious laughter here).
That being said, I have some very important church names that you should consider for your church plant.
The Lord’s Vineyard
That’s right. You want people to know that there’s only one vineyard in town that God has chosen, and it’s yours. That other church down the street? Forget them. They don’t even have the right name on the door. Surely God isn’t working in their lives. You want everyone to know that if they’re going to be picked in God’s glorious elect, they better be in your vineyard. After all, it is the Lord’s.
Church of the Holy Immaculate Conception
What we’re hoping for here is for people to be confused and think you meant, “immaculate reception.” If that’s the case, they might think you’re talking football. And if you know football, maybe you’re only half-weird. Get them in the door with this brilliant “bait and switch” name.
Holiness Church of ( insert city/town name )
Nothing says, “Our church is more holy than yours, yours, yours and definitely yours,” than a church name with “Holiness” in it. If you’re in an uppity suburb somewhere, this may be the option for you. Everyone should know that while other churches might be holy, they aren’t nearly as holy as yours. The folk who love to keep up with the Jones’ will love that they can rub this one in to their friends. “Oh, you go to First Church of God down the street. Well, we have been members of the Holiness Church of ( insert city/town name ) for 42 generations. Yep, that’s right. We’re holy.”
Anything with “Whispering” in it
Whispering Pines. Whispering Grove. Whispering Creeper. Who’s whispering over my shoulder? This is just getting weird. Still, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper on a mountain side. You want people to know that at your church, they will be hearing God in whispers over their shoulder. Plus, this way you get to get them started in some Old Testament knowledge right away. They’ll be learning Bible and won’t even know it.
The First Holy Faith Tabernacle Church of Peter, Andrew, James and John Founded on the Solid Rock
If your church name is longer than your mission statement, it’s a good one. Because the one thing you don’t want to have happen is for the lost to actually remember your church name. After all, new people means being uncomfortable. So let’s just confuse them with a ridiculously long name on the sign.
Boring ( anything )
Look, I get it. You’ve lived in Boring, (State Name) since you were conceived. You are proud of the 1/2AAA Girls Checkers State Championship your school won in 1903. So go ahead and spit in the face of first impressions. Who cares if people drive by and think your church is boring. It’s worth it because of 1903.
So, there you have it. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I do hope I have helped to ease the burden that is the hard work of church planting. Feel free to use these free of charge for your church plant, or you can create your own variation as well. Now, get out there, start a church and confuse the heck out of the people in your town.
If you have a desire to church plant and you believe God is leading you in that direction, let me know. I would love to pray for you (seriously, no satire here). Also, you may want to click the image above to help you get started on your church planting journey.
While it is sad to admit, many churches have really messed up in the outreach department. They fall into the trap of doing the same things over and over, year in and year out. These outreach events become their traditions. Some churches even go so far as to invent holidays to add their events to the calendar. And despite all of this hard work and effort, many outreach events fall short of their desired outcome. Why does this happen, year after year, event after event?
Sometimes the answer is a vision issue that points to a church that is simply off course.
Sometimes it is a church that has gotten into an unhealthy pattern of trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.
Sometimes the answer is far less obvious. Sometimes, we simply lack the creativity.
So what are some ways churches can break out of the funk and get creative with their outreach?
- Allow creative people to be a part of the planning process. They can help you out you know.
- Dare I say it? Look around at other successful churches and see what they are doing. Don’t do their event exactly, but understand that there is a reason it’s working as well. Or share your ideas with them and get their input on the idea. Brainstorm if with them, gather some information and improve your chances of having a successful event.
- Spend the money to send your creative people to an outreach conference. Allow them the freedom to run with a few ideas.
- Get specific with your events. Don’t be the church that says, “We’re going to reach everyone, with this one event, and all of Chicago will be Christians by tomorrow.” We all know, that simply doesn’t work. That’s about as effective as a radio station playing everything from polka to rap. People would give up on that station. We must be more specific about who we are trying to reach.
- Design different sized events. Not every event you do in the outreach area has to be for thousands of people. Some events can be designed for mid-sized groups, around 50-100.
- Partner with organizations in your community. There might be an area of town that is reached through the local food pantry and housing authority. Partner with them to help meet needs of people. This is a way of taking the Gospel “out” of the building and to the people. Partner with restaurants, car washes, gas stations or whoever else you can think of, to pull off an event. Partnering with an organization that is already doing some of this work is great, because then the church doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- Don’t assume that outreach has to be an event. Many times we think our outreach is an all or nothing, put all of our eggs in this basket, kind of a thing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Outreach can be done strategically through individuals in the church as well. Don’t underestimate the power of empowering your people to outreach in their own neighborhoods. Block parties, neighborhood movie nights, handing out bottles of water or serving at a community event near their home. All of these can be just as powerful as a big church event designed for the thousands.
- Force yourself to throw away the box you have put yourself in with outreach. Clear the calendar. Try something new. Get crazy. Stop doing the same old thing, just because. (I realize, this one is easier said than done. Been there, done that, have the souvenirs.)
- Come to a solid understanding of what outreach is about. Don’t lose sight of the vision, that outreach is for those who are “out” of the church. If you don’t see outreach as for people outside the church, then you are “in”-reaching and boiled down is just glorified fellowship. There is a time for fellowship, but not when you’re trying to reach people.
- Stop asking the question, “How much will this cost?” That question has killed more great ideas and initiatives than I even care to estimate. That question comes way down the road, after questions like, “Why haven’t we thought of that before? That’s a great idea, but how can we make it reach more people? How can we use this to maximize impact for the hurting in our area? How can we utilize this event to tell the most people about Jesus?” These questions are far better to ask. If all of those questions can be answered and God is giving you a vision for this outreach event, the money is a non-issue. Even if the money isn’t there, God will honor the risk.
These are just a few of the ideas that I thought of.
What am I missing? What would you add to this list?
How has your church gotten creative through outreach?
What did you do?
How did you plan it?
What did you learn from the experience?
Share as many ideas as you would like in the comments below. We can only help each other this way. After all, we’re all playing for the same team.
I am constantly on the hunt for good books to read. Most of the books I read have to do with church work, leadership and how it relates to the culture. I want to know what you read. Who is your favorite author? What type of books are your favorite? Read a good book lately? Tell me about it in a comment and I’ll go check it out.
A very interesting comment recently on this blog got me thinking about some things. For weeks now I have been mulling over some stuff in my brain. I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I wish I did, then right after I think that I’m glad I don’t have the pressure of knowing everything. I confess, I’m tired of “doing” church. It seems that church has become more of a market (churchmarketingsucks.com). While the church does have to present itself in a certain way, I’m just beginning to wonder if what the church really is supposed to be is getting lost in a whirl-wind of marketing, branding & culturally relevant conversations.
I read a great quote from my wife’s cousin, Jared Moore, that goes like this,
“We do not become culturally relevant when we become like the culture, but rather when we model what the culture hungers to become.”
Do I think the church needs to brand itself well? Yes! Do I think we need to market ourselves better? Yes! Do I think we need to be culturally relevant? Yes! Do I think the church is losing the definition of what it is really here for in the midst of all these attempts? In some cases, yes! From my experience it seems that the people involved in the church just want to continue “doing” church as is. Even if you have to fake it to get through, just keep “doing” it. God is blessed with our half-heart efforts and sacrifices as long as we just keep “doing” church. I’m not convinced that this is a correct assumption. In fact, I think this attitude flies in the face of many Scriptural precedents. Namely that God is not interested in us just “doing” church to get by, but that He wants the entirety of our hearts and lives.
It’s time for the church to stop “doing” church. It’s time to start “being” it. Time to live out the glory of God in our lives so that what God stands for is reflected in what we stand for. It’s time to “be” the church right where we are. Are you standing in Starbuck’s getting a white chocolate mocha with skim milk, three shots of espresso and warmed to a sultry 160 degrees? Then be the church, be the reflection of God’s glory and what He stands for to the barista. Are you going to a ball game tonight? Then be the church, be the reflection of God’s glory and of what the culture longs to have where you are. Are you going on a date with that special someone? Then be the church, be the reflection of what God desires in purity in the car when you’re about to go inside. The stigma that we “do” church a certain way has run out of time with me. I don’t believe it works. You don’t need a bumper sticker that says, “Follow me to Jesus.” You don’t need a Godwitter account (and I don’t recommend it). You don’t need a Godtube (now Tangle.com) account. We need to “be” what the culture craves.
In reality, the church, the people who make up the church are the salt and light. We are to “be” what draws people to God, what makes them hunger for Him, what makes them thirst for what they are missing. The church is the catalyst, a group of people, who through their lives, direct people to the very heart of God. And that’s what we are. At the least, it is who we should be. Be culturally relevant, market and brand well. But don’t “do” to the point of losing the “being!”
Thoughts? Did I miss something? What would you add?
At Beyond Relevance, there is a great blog entitled, “What if Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?” It’s a funny parody about how many people in the culture perceive the church. I wanted to share the video with you here, but want you to know that the people over at Beyond Relevance are truly genius when it comes to the church and marketing it in the culture. Please, visit their blog as well. After you watch the video, let me know what you think. See how many interesting things you can find in the video that churches often use. For instance, fonts, posters, guest ministry tactics. Let me know how accurate you think the video is to many churches today. I’m looking forward to seeing the discussion build on this.