Monday, October 23, 2006


Over the years I think CTK has promoted itself pretty well (I’m thinking here of mailers, advertisements, etc.). I don’t think that promotion is what causes a church to grow (there is never just one reason that a church grows), but it has been an important part of our story.

It is a popular notion in the “emergent” church (the latest iteration of “post-modern” ministry) to not promote the church at all through advertisement, or sometimes even through signage. The feeling is that the church remains more philosophically pure without self-promotion, and then if the church grows we know it “must have been a God thing” since we did not promote it. I mostly disagree with this notion. Christ did not commission us to be philosophically pure. He commissioned us to reach a lost world with the gospel. A certain amount of promotion can help us achieve this mission.

While there are back-eddies of post-modernity in our culture, the mainstream of our culture is still modern. Most people get their information from media. If anything, there are now just more kinds media from which you can derive information (add internet, wireless devices, satellite radio, et al to television, radio and newspapers). It is a huge part of the environment. To not use these media to promote your ministry is like being a fish out of water.

The way in which a church promotes itself does matter, however. There is a philosophy that we have employed to be as strategic as we can be.


There are five things to think about as you promote your ministry:

1. Think about “the bringer and includer.”

We all know that nothing beats a personal invitation. There are individuals in every Worship Center who do a disproportionate amount of inviting to your small groups and worship services. These people are bringers and includers. My experience has been that one bringing and includer can account for dozens of people coming to know Christ. They are highly connected. They are highly relational. Think about them as you promote your ministry. In effect, through advertising you are giving air cover for their ground attack. The next time they invite someone they might hear, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about CTK.” This sets up a repoire that increases the bringer and includer’s effectiveness.

2. Think about the system.

Good promotion cannot overcome a bad experience. Don’t you hate it when you respond to an ad, and the store doesn’t deliver as promised? Sometimes we need to get the experience right before we promote ourselves too aggressively. Are your small groups ready for newcomers? If people visit one of your services will there be competent childcare, worship that makes sense, a message they can understand? If they come and have a good experience, then they will no doubt go out and tell others. If they come and have a bad experience, they will let others know about that, too.

3. Think about giving people something to talk about.

In political circles it’s called “a talking point.” Ask yourself, “What is the story that people will come away with after being here?” Because there will be a story. When they get to work on Monday, their friends are going to ask them, “Hey, did you check out that Christ the King Church? What did you think?” What comes out of their mouth in response? Some possibilities (hopefully...):

• You know, that was the first time in a long time that I have actually understood what the pastor was talking about.
• Man, you should have heard this band that played Sunday. They were awesome.
• Its the first church I’ve ever been to where they had coffee out for everyone. That was nice.
• I couldn’t believe how many locations these guys meeting in, and I guess they are going to be starting a new location soon closer to us.
• They gave me a mug as a gift for visiting. That was kind of cool.

I was at a CTK worship service yesterday where there was a very tasty accordion player as part of the worship team. It was very cool, and something I will probably tell three or four people about this week. Keep your eyes peeled for these kind of opportunities.

Your overall experience can be worth talking about, or you can inject specific storylines into your experience that are worth talking about, like mission trips, interesting teaching topics, changes in personnel, times, locations (there are times when I have changed service times just to give people something to talk about).

You’ll know what the story line is when someone comes up to you and says, “Yeah, this is my first time here. My friend Joe told me I should come because.....”

4. Think about those who are about to come.

It is important that you stay engaged with lost people, to know what makes them tick. A lot of church advertising that I see says “these people do not know what is going on in the real world.” For instance, if you are not aware that for most people their most precious asset is now time, and not money, then you might think an ad like this would be attractive: “Be with us all day. Worship service followed by barbeque, followed by prophecy seminar, followed by worship event.” What an unchurched person might take away from this ad: “I can’t go to that church. I don’t have the time.”

5. Think about leverage points.

Promotion can be simple, but effective. One ad that works is worth 20 that don’t. Certain lines in an ad can “position” your ministry in people’s minds forever. Lines like “Given up on church, but not on God” or “It’s not a fashion show, it’s just church” or our motto, “Always A Place For You,” give people a feeling about CTK that won’t be easily lost. Some day, when someone from CTK personally invites them, that good feeling will be activated and make them more susceptible to the invitation.

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