Tony Morgan, New Spring Church guru, wrote a great couple of posts
on why churches should stop marketing. He makes a good argument that
marketing can push you away from your true mission. I'd love to hear
what you think of it.
I wanted to share my reflections on it too. A year ago I might have disagreed with him. Not so much any more.
In the church I was with before Connexus,
we had done a lot of marketing (at least for Central Ontario). We did
flyers, billboards, radio ads and more to invite people to church. We
always said the best way we wanted to grow was through personal
invitation, but we marketed anyway.
Without a doubt, people with
no church background came to church because of our marketing, and some
of them came to faith. That's awesome and I wouldn't trade it for
We have marketed less since starting Connexus.
Frankly, we didn't do an ideological shift. We just stacked up our
first year expenses and an easy thing to not spend money on was
marketing. So we cut it. We've done a couple of small flyer drops and
one full page ad (last Christmas) – hardly enough to register one drop
in the ocean of material people see. Other than a weekly radio show we
do, we don't spend any money on marketing regularly.
Being a year with almost no marketing though, I think I've learned some of Tony's lessons and a few more.
- When you don't market, the only way to grow your mission is to have people invite friends.
When you rent theaters half a day a week to host church, you gain
little profile. People hear about us now because someone who is excited
about Jesus and the environments at Connexus tells someone else. Only
now, a year later, are we starting to get any recognition by reputation
in the community.
- Once we cut our marketing, we realized fewer people were telling
their friends about Connexus or what it meant to follow Jesus than we
had assumed. It's given us a chance to cast vision far more clearly with our folks.
- When people don't invite their friends, one of two things has happened:
- You're not doing a good enough job in realizing your true mission as a church.
- They've been in a Christian bubble too long and have forgotten what it's all about.
- Not marketing made me and others reflect on our purpose.
we would be known as his followers by our love, not by our image. But
it's easier to promote than to really love. I hope our next series (Revolutionary Love)
might begin to put our toe in the pond on loving the wider community
unconditionally. I hope in a year we are known by our forgiveness,
love and grace. You don't need to market that. It sells itself.
- We realized that marketing really attracts church people.
Is it that they want to be associated with successful churches? But we
are keenly aware that our mission is not to suck other churches dry,
but to suck the malls, beaches, hockey rinks and ski hills dry. Not
marketing helps us NOT attract people from other churches. That's good.
- I think in the end, we stopped asking people to "be" the church.
If you look at the early church, they grew because Christ was with them
and they loved and gave radically. They didn't mail people flyers. It
makes me ask whether we are bold enough to actually be the church in
our culture, to love as radically as Jesus loved.
I don't want to come across as owning all this stuff yet. It's a
growing edge for me. I want to be more radical and bold in my faith,
not less. And if this portable church is going to impact a community,
word of mouth is a great way to go.
I know at both our campuses people show up every weekend because somebody told them about Connexus. That excites me.
Maybe we are becoming the church.