The Biblical Call to Advertise

A case for churches to use contemporary marketing tactics to grow God’s kingdom.

As Christians, we all know about The Great Commission: Mathew28: 18-20. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Let’s breakdown this scripture for how it applies to our church lives today. “Jesus came to them” Verse 17, just prior to The Great Commission indicated that some of the disciples “worshiped”, but “doubted.” Doubt has got to be the number one reason the unchurched stay home on Sunday mornings. They doubt the church. They doubt that an experience in church can really provide them with any life change. They doubt church leadership because they’ve heard the stories of unrighteousness among church leadership. They doubt God even exists and they doubt a church will help them with their unbelief. They have been hurt by previous church experiences and they doubt anything will be any different. So why aren’t we doing what Jesus did? Jesus came to them. . . despite of their doubt. Never before has this been easier to take the message of salvation to the unchurched. The Internet is wired into 95% of American homes. Our televisions are fed with 300+ channels. Rarely do people get in their car and not turn on the radio. God’s plan included the development of all of these mediums and He built them for His good. So why doesn’t God’s church own the airwaves? Why isn’t every church buying up media time to reach the doubters? Are we afraid of the media? Are we afraid that we will be ridiculed?. Are we afraid of rejection? The opposite of fear is faith Why don’t we have faith that advertising in modern media can grow God’s kingdom? Why are we not being bold enough to use all available methods to reach unbelievers and the unchurched. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Churches and their leadership tend to avoid the messy places. But those are just he places where the unchurched are residing. They are in bars, on the Internet or at home looking for something to fill their empty hearts. In making the case for churches to advertise, more than one pastor has said that I don’t want our ad running on a medium that is controlled by the enemy. They have forgotten the “All Authority” part and they gloss over Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Advertising is a tool used by businesses that works to grow their business. The enemy has caused many brands to employ strategies like “sex sells” and “the one with the most toys, wins.” As a result, many churches have rejected the thought of advertising to reach the unchurched. But when they make that rejection they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater and ignoring that “in all things God works for the good . . .” The management of the television station or the local newspaper is under the authority of Jesus. They wouldn’t dare refuse an ad from a church, while accepting ads with immoral and unsavory content. If they did, then it is time for the church to employ another marketing tactic: media relations. But that’s a subject for another article. “. . .go and make disciples of all nations. . .” The keyword in this phrase is “nations.” The Great Commission calls for us to convert nations, not just individuals. A nation is defined as a large body of people associated with a particular territory. Churches, your nation is your neighborhood. You need a mass media to reach your nation, do not be afraid. The goal of every church, however, is not be a mega church. There is a church for everybody, but every church is not for everybody. A few years ago, I conducted a survey of Mega Churches that indicated one thing they all had in common, 100% used contemporary marketing techniques to grow their church. However, I would argue that a church that is content with its current size and not trying to grow, is a stagnant church that is ignoring The Great Commission. They key for every church is to define their brand. Ask the questions: Who are we? Who do we want to be? What makes our church different? What can we offer the unchurched? These are the same questions we ask of companies in the marketing planning process. Once you have answers to these questions, you will be able to develop a profile of the person/families who are likely to visit your church. Where many churches fail in their outreach efforts is they try to be all things to all people. The fact of the matter is that when people visit your church for the first time, they are looking for comfort. They will get a feeling of comfort within minutes of entering your facility. They will look around to see if they see people of the same race. Sure, there are successful multicultural churches and they are successful because of the level of comfort all people get when they come through the doors. They will make a judgment early in your service based upon the type of worship music you provide. Should you change anything to accommodate a “type” of person you would like to attract. No. God will lead them to that church that is right for them. “. . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . .” This is the “effect” of the cause and effect scenario. Marketing tactics like advertising can do many things, but they can’t close the deal. In the advertising business we have a running joke that says our business

development people bring raw meat (new clients) to the house, but it’s up to the creative team to take the meat and prepare the meal. Baptism is the result of personal development that can only come from the church. The church, the people are the closers. It is the church who will be the ones who lead a new convert to the point of being ready for baptism. “. . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Again, this is where the church needs to do its part. Marketing, advertising has brought you God’s prospect. Mentoring them and advising them to obey the commandments is the job of the pastor and accountability partners who bring one another along. Small groups and one-on-one counseling is the most effective way to create Christians who are walking the walk. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is a promise from Jesus. It is in red letters.This is the greatest ROI any marketing director can ever ask for. It says, if you do these things I will be with you . . . always. Always is a long, long time. If you want Jesus with your church . . . always . . . try following The Great Commission and use every tool at your disposal to make disciples of all nations. The writer, Patrick Pearson, is a partner in the advertising, public relations and video production firm of Pearson DeBoer Creative Solutions in Salisbury, NC and a 25 year veteran of the advertising and public relations firms.

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