My Church Marketing Fatigue

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes in the church marketing industry, I’m very in the know with what is going on there. In the church where I pastor, however, I’m actually leading our people away from the church marketing fads.

I’ve always believed that church should be simple and timeless. That our ministry should be characterized (as Paul’s was) by “simplicity and godly sincerity.” (2 Cor. 1:15). I’ve often thought of our ministry style as church minimalist. Intentionally stripping away programs, glitz and glamour until what is left is the very heart of what church should be all about:

  • the gospel
  • bible preaching
  • congregational singing
  • discipleship
  • fellowship
  • service
  • missions
  • evangelism

Early in my ministry, I was enamored by high-quality graphics, slick looking church buildings, and well put-together programs. I thought the key to ministry was to do everything excellently and to make my church as attractive to outsiders as was humanly possible.

I’m just growing tired of all that. More than tired, it’s starting to vex my soul.

The hard truth is that God did His work just fine for thousands of years in churches without professional printing, screens in the lobby and neatly packaged sermon series.

The other hard truth is that if our church is built by marketing, God doesn’t really need to show up and do anything.

People today are absolutely bombarded by well-done advertising, beautiful buildings, videos, screens, mailers, signage, etc.. It’s literally everywhere we look.

I’ve been a semi-professional designer for nearly 15 years. I’ve given talks on church media at multiple conferences. I’ve created multiple church media products. I don’t know another pastor with more knowledge about what’s going on in the tech and media industries. But it’s not media and tech that is going to get God’s work done, it’s the preaching of the gospel.

God does His work in the church through the gospel, Bible preaching, prayer, and personal relationships. Not one of those things requires any money or any slick marketing.

Lets be honest, I’m not going to be putting comic sans on the church bulletin anytime soon and the burgundy carpet isn’t coming back. I still think it’s important to have taste and to make a good first impression. In fact, I just ordered some new tracts and signs for our church last week.

But the church marketing stuff just isn’t as shiny anymore. It’s been treated like the vine for too long, when in actuality it’s a minor part of the trellis: a small part of what’s supporting what we are really all about, not even close to the main thing.

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