Whether we would like to admit it or not we market God and the church.The question is how? That isn't an intentional part of most churches. Our church spent $0 in intentional advertising. How do churches market themselves.
How many churches have marquees out in front of their churches? This is probably the place that they can talk to more "non churched people" than any other venue. What comes to mind when we see most of those signs? It is either a clever little saying or sermon title for the most part. I don't have a cure all for what would be a good thing on a church sign.
Marketing a church is very different than marketing a product we have to remember we aren't selling people some junk. Although it would be fun to put on a church sign. "Tickets to heaven 1/2 price this week only." I think there may be some double takes from people driving down the road.
Since we aren't trying to sell people a product what are we doing? In essence we are trying to tell/show people that the life we are offering is better than the alternatives they are currently trying. What would happen to them if they dared to step into the building? What would happen if they came to one of our services? Would anything be different in their lives? Would they know they were cared for, would they know that there are people that genuinely want whats best for them? Would they be challenged and inspired to change?
Churches are very interested in growing and wanting new people to come. I just don't think we are very good in knowing how to present it. If it isn't using fear/yelling on the street tactics we are at a loss.
Hear are my two cents on this issue.
1. I think in general non churched people have preconcived notions about what church and church people are like. I don't think these are 100% true but if this is their personal opinion arguing with them is not going to work.
I think we need to show them different. What does our lifestyle say about following Christ? There are two different areas that tell alot about Jesus. How are we dealing with the sins of comission and the sins of omission?
We are very consious of the sins of comission. These are the sins of our lifestyle. This is hammered on quite a bit in churches. How is our life a reflection of Jesus' morality?
The sins of omission are just as important. How are we bringing Jesus' hope into the world? Are we purposefully bringing restoration into peoples lives both in our sphere of influence and our influence around the world?
The way our life reflects both of those is a direct reflection on both Jesus and the church. Yes we are not going to be perfect but if you are someone no wants to be like than our churches will continue to shrink.
2. What does the church offer that is going to help me?
This a question all of us ask in one way or another. We as humans are very selfish, and every thing revolves around me since the day I was born.
So this question is a very important to answer. How are we going to meet needs of unchurched people?
Last night I was in a meeting and we were talking about having a booth at our county fair. In the past the church has done water give aways with the church logo on the side of their water bottles. Other churches started doing that and we as a group were asking the question of how can we meet physical needs at the fair?
One of the groups we specifically want to target is young families. As we were sitting in the meeting I had this strenge thought of how we could meet some of their needs. What if we bought a huge amount of diapers and put a St Marks sticker on the front of each diaper and then gave them away throughout the fair.
As a parent of three children who have just gotten out of the diaper stage, I realize how much money is spent on diapers. I also know the time spent putting diapers on a child where the st marks logo would be a reminder of a church that cares about these peoples needs. There are other aspects of this idea that need to be worked out.
If we are going to meet needs we need to do it because we care not so we can hope that they will join the church so they can give money.
We are in the live changing, bringing hope to people business.
3. Is what these church people believe important enough for me to invest time ,energy, and money into the cause?
Is our churches vision big enough? Are we dreaming God sized dreams? Is the church declining because there isn't enough churches that believe that God put them here for a reason? Would the disciples been willing to give their lives if they had been told to just sit in Jerusalem for the rest of their lives and just tell people about Jesus who walked in their doors? Just a question.