For the past seven years, I’ve led marketing efforts for ministries. I’ve got a great team ready to dive in and design assets that prompt people to give, adopt, travel, attend, pray, fast, get happy, get angry, or just simply get off their rears and do something. In many ways, it’s the same marketing I’ve done for businesses. It’s all about finding an emotional connection, and sharing it in a way that makes folks long to be part of it all.
And it bothers me.
Jesus didn’t say, “Here are five easy ways to make Me appear more approachable.” He simply said, “Lift Me high. I’ll attract people.”
Somewhere along the way, someone decided that the cross needed to be painted and the crown of thorns needed a few jewels. Someone noticed people were distracted, and the answer to cutting through the clutter was to create clearer clutter. So we did. As leaders, we even preached to our staffs how important it was to beat the competition of the world. And then we complained about a culture that treated our message with the same care they treated any other.
As a marketing professional, I can’t help but feel I’ve contributed to it all. And I wonder if you’re there with me.
It’s time for a change. Let’s raise a new generation of leaders who want to tell the story well. Let’s use every ounce of creativity given us to share the raw, graceful beauty of the gospel—and let it do the work of attracting.
So, this is my commitment as a leader who longs to champion creativity that doesn’t chase after culture but rather boldly chooses to elevate a higher message. It will be an evolutionary process, this counter-cultural creativity, but I will:
Elevate and enhance rather than exploit – It’s easy to get caught up in alliteration, isn’t it? We want to find THE WORD or THE RHYME that snaps heads and makes our message stand out.
Let’s be deliberate in not allowing the message to overtake the Message. Ask the hard questions about what is being elevated as the priority.
Look for nuance rather than new – “First-mover” was a term I really looked for in the marketplace. Innovation was always defined by brand new. If it had been done before, it couldn’t be done again. But innovation deserves better.
Let’s allow creativity to find its form in small nuance rather than in brand new. Ask, “what small thing could we do?” to allow innovation to shine.
Point toward rather than point out –The beauty of the gospel is that we don’t have to try to come up with new words for things like hope, love, mercy, grace. And we don’t have to MAKE Jesus known.
Let’s use words and images to paint landscape and background. We’ll take time to look at what we design to make sure we are not reimaging the gospel.
Cultivate conversation rather than commercialize content – The gospel automatically does what marketers love—it creates relationship. Our church members are the true catalysts for change rather than our beautiful website banner. This is my leadership challenge:
Let’s engage in meaningful conversation through our messages, and equip our members to do the same. We will ask ourselves, “what does it really do to advance community?”
So, what do you think about marketing the gospel? Where should the line be drawn when it comes to church marketing? And as a leader, what do you believe your responsibility is in driving the creative process?