Marketing - The Church's 4 Letter Word
Christianity has its own specific language that you don't find in many places. Terms like justification, grace and sanctification all have their specific meanings that only the elect know. But more than that, the church often shuns terms that the world understands and takes for granted. These terms become "four letter" words to the church as there is a negative connotation associated with them.
One of those terms is "marketing". Yes, I know it has more than four letters, but it is still forbidden. I guess that it is understandable. For years it was marketing that drove millions to smoke, drink and engage in all forms of sinful behavior. But, when you look at the definition of the term you come away with a different perspective.
Marketing, according to the American Marketing Association is simply the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
With that definition in mind it should broaden our view of the purpose and how the church has and continues to market, whether we like the term or not.
Consider the Gospels. Four books that all tell the same story. But, if it is the same story, why are they so different. From the perspective of a seasoned professional it is as plain as the nose on my face (get ready to be mad). The answer is marketing. Matthew was written to a Jewish target demographic, Mark to Roman readers, Luke to the Greek market and John to the broadest audience.
This is not saying that each version of the Gospels cannot speak to everyone!!! They do!!! What it does mean is that the intended audience was able to get more out of the specific book because it was "communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings" better suited to their perspective.
For instance in Matthew there are around 50 quotes from the Old Testament. Also, there are 75 indirect or passing references to things that happened in the Old Testament and Jesus is called the "son of David" nine times. That kind of writing would have reached the Jewish readers more effectively.
Mark on the other hand only refers to the Old Testament nineteen times. He also goes into detail about the Jewish custom of washing hands in Chapter 7 because his intended audience would not necessarily understand. Terms are also translated out of the Greek into Roman when talking about money or distance.
These are just a few examples of how many books of the Bible are written for specific audiences in specific times to communicate specific ideas. Pure genius to the professional marketer. Even more astounding is that the Bible continues to speak depending on circumstance, need or background. We have all seen this in our lives countless times. The Bible speaks to us and cuts us to the heart as we read a certain passage and other words seem to just pass us by. But, then our lives change and the Bible speaks to us differently than it did before. There is no new revelation, the Bible did not change, but we did and the verses become new to us in a different way.
Back to the point of marketing and the church. I know that it can sometimes be distasteful to admit that we need to market, but are we not to "be wise in the way you act towards outsiders." (Colossians 4:5)? Also, we must realize we are marketing right now anyway. When the un-churched see your logo what does it say about you to that lost soul? If your location can't be found with a simple search on a smart phone how can you reach them? It only strengths the local church when we fortify personal evangelism with good consistent marketing.
At Speiro Communications we feel that it is time to take marketing back and start using it to reach others by speaking to them in a way that they understand and will respond to. To find out more contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our blog at blog.speirocom.net.