Church marketing. Those two words inspire many of us, nauseate some, and strike fear and frustration into others.

I guess it all depends on what your concept of marketing is, and how you’ve chosen to translate that into the church.

Before we jump into a definition of church marketing, let’s spend a few moments debunking some of the misconceptions about church marketing.

1 – Church marketing is not hype.

Many are turned off by the term because they have been burned out on the idea that marketing = “shady manipulation.” We’ve all seen the dark side of so-called church marketing where what is promoted and what is actually experienced are very different things. Church marketing is not bribing people to show up or do something they would not do otherwise.

Church marketing has little to do with hype, and everything to do with the ultimate goal of gospel transformation.

Unlike hype and manipulation, the gospel delivers every time. It is the power of God unto salvation! Click To Tweet

2 – Church marketing is not a collection of media.

Your website is not your church marketing. That flyer, letterhead, brochure, business card, and sweet logo are not your church marketing. Your Facebook page is not your marketing. These are channels and vehicles whereby you proclaim the gospel to your market, but in themselves, they are not “marketing.”

You can’t spend $50,000 on a media overhaul project and suddenly have “great marketing.”

This may seem like a moot point, but in reality, it is an important distinction because…

3 – Church marketing is not optional.

Whether your church media and branding is fantastic, awful, or nonexistent, you are still marketing. You are saying something to your community. No amount of fantastic design, stellar copy, or edgy branding can overcome people’s personal experience.

Your church marketing is way less about your image, and way more about who you really are. Click To Tweet

Your church marketing is defined much more accurately by what you do than by what you say. You can say a lot of things with a mailer, website, or billboard, but you can only do with your hands, your feet, and your life.

If you were rude to that waitress or took advantage of that contractor, no number of edgy direct mailers or witty facebook posts are going to overcome that. You failed at marketing.

Church Marketing Rocks

Do you love people? Are you kind? Are you going to where the people are and helping them in their need?

Bad behavior can never be overcome by great media. The result will always be bad marketing.

So if church marketing is not hype, media, or an optional activity, what is it?

To break it down easily, let’s just take a look at the two words.

Church = An ekklesia; a called out assembly.

This one is easy. The church is a group of believers in Christ entrusted with the message of the gospel!

Marketing = advertising or promoting something.

Think about a classic market where peddlers are promoting their wares to anyone they feel is a qualified buyer. They are trying to influence the potential customer to see the value in their offering and make a purchase decision.

So here you have it:

Church marketing is the promotion of a local assembly in the context of the gospel.

Church marketing is not just happening when you run a promotion, send out a direct mail campaign, or overhaul your website. In fact, your church is being marketed right now. It is the members of your local assembly in their homes, in their workplaces, and in their recreation. They are representing the gospel and promoting the church. As Kevin Hendricks simply put it, church marketing is evangelism.

Your church media is the tool, but it is not the power. It is the means, but it is not the message. Church marketing is a long game, not a short play. It is not something you fix overnight, but something you establish over time. It takes consistency in message, motive, and practice.

So define your purpose.

Set your goals.

Craft your marketing around those goals, in the context of your purpose.

Empower your church to use quality media, but understand that their lives are the biggest marketing tools your church has.

If the message of the church matters, the marketing of the church matters!