Is it Ethical to Use Marketing Techniques for Church Member Engagement?

And can you even do it without sounding cheesy? 

More than a Number

Have you ever asked yourself, “what is church marketing?” And then perhaps, “is it even ethically ok to think about church in a marketing context?” It’s not uncommon to experience hesitation from pastors when you talk about implementing marketing techniques into a church growth strategy. After all, how do you use an algorithm or place a measurement on someone’s faith experience?  

Is it Ethical to Use Marketing Techniques for Church Member Engagement?

How do you combine faith transformation and marketing techniques to fuel your church’s growth and help create fully engaged members in your community? In this blog, we’re going to illustrate how a robust church engagement strategy can help you figure out how to increase church engagement. We’ll also outline marketing techniques in a way that will allow you to judge if it is an ethical practice to utilize them for church member engagement.

Marketing Funnels

A staple in businesses worldwide, marketing funnels are essentially a way of looking for the common identifying fact among a group of people. From the business’s perspective, their primary concern is identifying what stage of familiarity and desire does one person have with their product. The deeper down the funnel someone moves, the more experience they have and (if the company has done a good job communicating the features and benefits) the more they may desire to have the product.

Consideration Time

By now, you’ve probably heard the euphemism, “shut up and take my money!” As funny as that saying is, it’s not that accurate. Technically, no one psychologically skips the consideration phase of a marketing funnel. Whether it’s as subconscious as sensing a “vibe” or as conscious as saying to someone, “ok, I’m listening…” the consideration section of the marketing funnel is when a person is beginning to gather the information they need to make a personal decision. 

Successful church engagement in the digital age takes time to consider what other people are considering.

As it pertains to churches, this section is pretty darn important- listening, hearing the information, the stories, the sacrifices given freely out of love for us- this section is (or should be) 100% happening for people no matter what church they go to. Successful church engagement in the digital age takes time to consider what other people are considering.

Love it or Hate it?

The 3rd of the 4 sections of a marketing funnel is somewhat self explanatory. The so named, “Evaluation” phase is when a consumer is weighing the pros and cons of what they’ve learned, taking the time to evaluate if it’s right for them. At times, this is a bit like putting a microscope of human psychology over a $0.50 decision about which scent of dishwashing liquid to use, but hey – that’s marketing for you. Someone is going to evaluate their experience with a product or service based on what they know, how it makes them feel, how it balances with their life, and a million other things. From that evaluation, someone will draw their conclusions and take their next steps either towards or away from it.

For churches, this is something a visitor or member will likely do without you knowing. It may take place over a period of time and after a few interactions. It might be days or it could be years that someone is evaluating making a decision about a church. Whether your church engagement strategy calls this period of time an “evaluation phase,” or something different, that space in someone’s life is a very important one.

Commitment: Do you take this candy bar to be your lawfully wedded…

This section name is funny when applied to the “normal” world of marketing, but is nonetheless accurate. This is the stage when a potential customer is going to fish or cut bait – either they are going to COMMIT or they are not going to COMMIT (…to buying a candy bar… lol). You have to admit, it is a tiny bit comical using such a hefty verb for a person’s relationship status with a $1.50 consumer purchase. 

Honestly, this section title is much more appropriate in church marketing strategy. The reality of the journey people go through in their consideration and evaluation of Christianity before this essential moment of commitment in one’s life can involve a significant amount of emotional and physical investment. Choosing an eternal commitment is a worthy question and considering how to engage church visitors and members in a way that supports their position around this question is a worthy use of anyone’s time.

The reality of the journey people go through in their consideration and evaluation of Christianity before this essential moment of commitment in one’s life can involve a significant amount of emotional and physical investment.

Is it ethical to consider using marketing techniques in a church growth strategy? When unpacked, all a marketing funnel really is, is a considerate method for ensuring your messaging isn’t “one size fits all” but instead, a thoughtfully designed journey a church hopes for someone to take.

The Rt. Rev’d Steve Wood once said, “God never asks us to check our brains at the door.” That’s the case for believers considering Christ, but it should also be the case for church leadership when writing and communicating to its members.

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Ready to learn more? We’ve got you covered.


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