Tag: Advertising

Is It Even Possible for a Church to Advertise Properly?

Is it even possible to use material bait to capture a spiritual fish?

Marlboro Man, meet Pastor Phil.

I wrote those words back in 2005 when I heard that the United Methodist Church will start a four-week, $4 million effort to market its church. John Wesley’s spiritual descendants said they were “turning to those who know how to sell cars, houses, and other commercial products.”

It was part of a trend that has only grown stronger over the past 15 years. Many churches have their own “marketing arms.”

I’m not sure I like it. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason, but it’s worth remembering the most common criticism of advertising today (after its saturation of public space): it’s more concerned with getting sales than imparting truth. Indeed, we know that some advertising gurus will distort the truth to get sales for their clients. If churches turn to ad agencies for whom such an approach is the norm, isn’t there a significant risk that the ads will be misleading or play off emotionalism and thereby be a discredit to institutions that claim to impart objective truth?

But forget that for the moment. I’m more curious about a potential branch problem of such advertising.

As advertising becomes acceptable to draw people to the pews, might advertising become acceptable once people are in the pews? Catholic Churches have advertised on the back of bulletins for years, with no … Read the rest