In recent years, churches have recognized the need to promote themselves in our competitive world. This is because they have to maintain an edifice and a support as well. They need to attract more church goers in order to support themselves. Nowadays, there a lot of things that people can do other than putting on their Sunday best and going to church. They could go to a mall, see a movie, go to the beach or watch a baseball game. Church marketing has to deal with the problem of decreasing church attendance.
Churches cannot pay their expenses by just offering their services for weddings, Christenings, and funerals. A large amount of money has to be spent to heat and to light a church all the year round. Any structural damage to a church will require a fundraising campaign. There have been many attempts to modernize church marketing and bring the church into the 21st century. The clergy have to relate to the younger generation in order for the churches to be sustainable. A lot of churches have web sites these days, in an attempt to engage people in what they are doing. Some clergy employ professional web designers and promotional experts for church marketing purposes.
People can sometimes criticize a church for being outdated, but a church can also be derided at other times for being too trendy. Some churches have put on folk evenings and pop concerts. A church hall is often attached to the church, as a money making opportunity. Then arguments usually break out about the appropriate use of the church hall. It’s a shame that the world of commerce has to infiltrate the quest for spirituality but these are the harsh realities and church marketing is needed.
A modern trend that some churches use is to have boards outside the church with witty homilies to amuse passersby and church goers. Some of these are quite clever and some are cringe worthy. Some churches use modern hymns as an alternative to traditional favorites, while others publish newsletters to inform the community of the work of the church. Church marketing works best when it involves social issues. The clergy need to convince people that the church is still relevant today.
They key is communication and perhaps more radical ideas are needed. For instance, in the UK, the Archbishop of York has recently completed a week of sleeping in a tent, pitched in the church. He also fasted for the week as part of a campaign to stop the fighting in Iraq. Some members of the clergy might not agree with his actions but it certainly worked as a piece of PR. Church marketing has to reach out and address world issues and not just focus its attention to repairing the leaks in the church roof.
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