Last week a guy that is planting a church in the next few months asked me what was the best way to advertise and market his new church. He had some money put away for signage, mass mailers, advertising, and other ideas to get the word out.
At REVO, we tried a lot of things. Some ideas bombed and some were successful. Nevertheless, there is a FOOL-PROOF way to successfully advertise and market in the community. In fact, these two methods have had more success for us than all of our other attempts combined!
The first is "Word of Mouth." Having a personal connection with someone is irreplaceable. People can read a mass-mailer one time and throw it straight in the trash. They can drive by your billboard and think nothing about it. Yet, a conversation with someone that they know and trust can be the deciding factor in them attending your church. A friend can give them a ride, meet them at the front door, and even sit with them during the worship experience. A postcard can't.
Another reason word of mouth is so effective is that the person that is promoting your church or organization stands to receive no personal benefit from it. Your friend doesn't get paid if the person comes. There is no hidden agenda in inviting them. No one gets a gold star in word of mouth advertising. It's just real, authentic critique.
The second, and by far the most important and most successful, is "Life Change." Nothing creates a buzz like someone's life getting changed. Nothing is more exciting and contagious than a person whose life has been turned upside down by the Gospel message.
Sometimes people that have been believers for a while have lost their zeal about what Jesus has done for them. For some reason it gets stale and lackluster. In fact, people can often get in the mindset that telling other people about what Jesus has done in their life is simply voluntary and not really necessary.
A new believer doesn't know any better. They are on fire. A new believer can't help but to talk about what Jesus has done and how their life has changed.
Also, a new believer has connections that you don't. He has other friends that he has been hanging out with that don't like Church, don't know Jesus, and probably wouldn't give you the time of day. Yet, they like their friend and are willing to listen to him, especially if he is excited and if they can see the difference in his life. Then your advertising strategy switches back to word of mouth.
So if you are interested in marketing and advertising your church, tell people about Jesus! When someone experiences life change through Him, you won't be able to shut them up. They will go places and say things that will impact people you may have never had a chance in reaching.
Instead of just attending or promoting a church, challenge people to Be the Church.
Don't make the Church buy a sign to accomplish what followers of Jesus are called to do!