When it comes to starting a church today in the United States 95% of them do so with a traditional promotional marketing strategy. Which means they come into an area, study the demographics, and market their church accordingly, just like any business would market its self.
When I speak to other new churches they tell me they spend $30-50K on marketing. They send mailers, door hangers, billboards, radio spots, magazine ads, and they come into a community and blitz the community with marketing. There is nothing wrong with marketing, but if our focus is a traditional marketing strategy it will create two road blocks:
• Not Effective: In North Central Austin we called all the churches in a 2-mile radius and of the 200,000 people living in the area less than 10,000 of them are connected to a local church. Many of them have had negative experiences, many of them are jaded, have been hurt, and a door hanger isn’t able to overcome those past experiences. There will be a few, but in our context, it typically won’t work. We have done some traditional marketing, but less than $2K.
• Not Reproducible: The second is that strategy isn’t reproducible for the average Christ follower. The average person isn’t going to call up KISS FM and purchase a radio spot for our church. As a result, the traditional marketing strategy removes the Christ follower from the equation and it isn’t reproducible.
So “What is our marketing strategy?”
Our marketing strategy is “us” and our relationships with others. We believe when you look at Scripture God’s plan is that we would be involved in relationships with others. We believe when we are falling in love with Jesus and Scripture that it will result in transformation and flow into the lives of others.
We believe the most exciting part of our week is not what happens on Sunday at 10am, but what happens throughout the week. In our jobs, at lunches, running errands, in PTA, classes, and somehow we have reduced it to one hour on Sunday. Sunday is important. Sunday is a lot of fun. We need Sunday to come together to encourage one another, remind us of the gospel, Scripture is elevated, Jesus is worshiped; but it is just one part of it.
Think about it this way. In most churches in the responsibility of connecting with Jesus, community, and others is primarily given to the pastors. The professionals. The church that has 500 people and 5 pastors tends to put all the responsibility on the 5 pastors and completely ignores the 500 people.
Imagine 500 people being unleashed, empowered, challenged, encouraged, as they go into homes, work places, restaurants, and gyms compared to 5 pastors working full-time? Imagine if 500 people spent 2 hours a week, which is a bad example, but for the analogy, imagine if they spent 2 hours being able to show a different side of Jesus, and if all 500 people did that it would result in 1,000 hours a week compared to 5 pastors putting 40 hours a week which is 200 hours.
The 2 hours a week is a bad analogy because we aren’t even talking about adding 2 hours of church activity on to your schedule every week. In fact, we are trying to minimize “church activity” because we think some of the most powerful parts of our week are things we are already doing like our job, our children, grocery store, Target, the ordinary things and taking those ordinary things and asking Jesus to do something extraordinary.