Church Advertising

I recently saw an ad for a local church. It is a big church. They do a lot of great things. The number of churches they have helped start is impressive. They know who they are and what they are about.

The ad I saw was on a counter of a gas station. It was a DVD. I’m not sure what the content of the disc was and didn’t want to take one just to satisfy my curiosity. But it was the cover that got me. It was a picture of a guy wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. Oh, he also had a hip wrist bracelet made out of rawhide. The words on the cover said, “Can This Be Church?”

Now in a moment of frustration I said something on Facebook about this. I wrote, “Dear Church Advertisers: Could we please get past clothing being an issue? It makes us look shallow.”

One of my friends on Facebook reminded me that for a lot of people that don’t go to church the whole ‘dressing up’ thing is an issue. Okay, point taken. I just don’t know one single church that dresses up…maybe the Catholic Church by me, but that’s about it. Every other church I have visited was casual and most of the pastors I know are casual.

As I write that I am reminded that there is a church in Florida that does not allow shorts to be worn to their service. I attended a large church In Florida where all the staff was wearing suits for the service.  So, evidently there are some churches that clothing is still an issue, but not around here, not really.

Anyway, it bugged me. It bugged me that that was what they led with for their advertising: Jeans and a t-shirt for church. I am pretty sure the DVD had some cool things on it because that church does some pretty cool things.

My friends comment started me thinking way beyond the shallowness comment. When I was in sales training we had this routine about “I’m the brochure.” It was designed to move the sales call along. When someone asks if there was a brochure that could be left behind, you say, “I’m the brochure. What do you want to know?”

We are the advertisement for our churches. We can tell our friends what to wear. We can tell them what to expect. And we can do it better than any video produced.

I guess I just don’t think that the best way to build the church is through mass marketing (no pun intended). We are the best (I’m being optimistic) advertisement for the church we attend.

What do you think? Am I overly sensitive about this issue? Does marketing to a clothing style demonstrate shallowness? Do I just need to take a pill and relax?

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6 thoughts on “Church Advertising

  1. Kim Nebel

    Some of the kindest hearts, most loving natures, humble, gentle souls have approached me in suits and dresses. To them dressing up is a sign of their reverence for God. The predjudice towards these people is just as shallow as predjudice towards people who wear jeans. As one comment on facebook pointed out, dress up, dress down, doesn’t matter just come.
    The same issue is women wearing skimpy clothing. It shouldn’t matter. We all have control of our own eyes and minds, stop making others responsible for your thoughts and actions.
    Exposed butt cracks, now that’s a different issue entirely. Here we have sanitation concerns. If you don’t cover your butt, nobody else is gonna want to sit there, EVER!

  2. I’m surprised that you uber-Christian commentors haven’t shown up yet lol. Guess the lackluster Christian will be the first…

    I am a walking billboard for my God. I wear jeans and t-shirts, sweatpants and tank tops. I have multiple tattoos and multiple piercings (nothing weird…yet). The God I love and follow could give a schiesse less about what I look like, what I wear, etc. He just wants me to love Him and follow His word. The day I watched a gaggle of old women tell a young family “go home and change your clothes so you can come in” was the day I swore I’d never dress up for church again.

    The church is shallow in a whole lot of ways, clothing being just one of them. When I see people in stuffy suits and stiff dresses, I get nervous as all get out because I know that before they even say the word “Hello”, I will get the high school once over. Ticks me off every time.

    Yes, you need meds, but this issue is not the reason lol.

    Miss you pastor sir. Very much.

  3. Steve

    I believe relationship marketing is going to be the strongest way to reach people. You are dead on that we are the advertisement. I tell my people to think about what happens when you treat your cashier like crap then they show up at your church door and see you… Mass marketing is not any where near as effective as relationship marketing. If you are going to mass market and you are trying to reach the new person that does not go to church often that person does not have a deep understanding of the church. How do you reach them – probably by matching the marketing to their level of understanding. If the people you are targeting are of a shallow understanding then shallow marketing is what will be effective. The concern that is raised with that is will you ever take them from that shallow level to a deeper level once you attract them? I believe you can, but you must be very intentional from the first contact to that person becoming the next advertisement for what being a part of the body, the church, really is about.

    In my area we have close to 70% of the people not attending church and living with 20-50 yr old stereotypes of what church is about. A very shallow thing that keeps some from visiting is what to wear. If the only thing we are as a local body of Christ is the same old thing, but in jeans we are missing the point. If we are not just dressed in normal everyday attire, but also relevant in other areas we will begin to gain permission to reach into their lives with the message that changes lives. If I am being all things to all people to win some I am on target, but if I am being all things to all people to be cool I am missing it. Both appear the same, but only one expands the Kingdom.

  4. Dave,
    I work for the DoD. They are real sticklers about what is acceptable dress in the workforce. We are reminded constantly with automated emails. One day I wore jeans thinking it was “Jeans Day”. I was off by one day. No one said anything. The day came and went with no comment from anyone.

    So, I tried an experiment. I wore jeans randomly for about 4 weeks to see if I would get a comment from anyone. To my surprise, nothing. Then I tried t-shirts with sub-par v-neck sweater shirts… still nothing, yet everyone around me was in collared dress shirts.

    Two things came to mind from my experiment. One, I am so bland that I could walk in to work naked and no one will notice. Two, we have become so accustom to “casual” that we cannot differentiate between dressed up and dressed down.

    Whatever the case is, casual is here to stay.

    Jeans and a t-shirt on a brochure for a church to me says more than anything… “We are trying to be hip, look we wear jeans”. It says the brochure design team or committee was a group of “older” people interpreting what they think the young “people” will connect with.

    Then again it could have been designed by a young person who lacks or is ignorant of respect for the church… get where I am going with this?

    As the church adapts with our ever changing culture, we will continually be amazed at the new “lows” churches will stoop to, to gain parishioners. The crux is, are they “lows”?

    In the early 1980’s I was told from my pastors that rock music was of the devil. That satan resided in certain beats and by listening to those songs with those beats I am opening my soul to satan. Aka. Bow Wow Wow’s “I want Candy” or Adam Ant’s, “Goody Two Shoes”. Now today we worship on Sundays to rhythms that would rival those cool 80’s beats.

    I guess what I am getting at is… if you have any pills… share… 😉 LOL

  5. Debbie

    Pastor Dave,
    It’s so funny that you’ve brought this up. Because I’ve been attending Kensington (the church who made the CD and I recognized “Can This Be Church” when you posted that earlier) and thought of you often, partly because one of the pastors is a Chaplain for the Detroit Lions, but also because the services remind me of you. They are light and fun and seem like something you would like. In fact I had thought of inviting you.
    Back to the Cd/DVD. Kensington started a new church in Orlando, passed out that CD and every person that got one came to the church.
    LOL a pill might not hurt. 🙂 Debbie

    1. Kensington is close to my heart for a couple of reasons. One of the major one’s is just how willing they are to help people plant churches. The other is that some folks I really love have found one of Kensington’s services and are regular attenders.

      I will take a pill. 🙂

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