A Marketing Plan - Step Two for Growth and Rebuilding

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This plan or strategy,  is specifically for a small neighborhood church.  It is grass roots and doesn't require much of a budget.  I say much, because I think there are a few things you will need to obtain, to let people know about your church and its image.  You will need to prime the pump (so to speak).  I am a speaker, and visit many small churches throughout the year.  I  have been a member of a small church, also a medium size church (which are rare these days), and I have been on staff at a large church.  There are phrases I hear over and over from church members in my travels.  There are things we speculate, some are right and some are not.  I will elaborate on a couple ideas we need to consider.  The numbered entries are the phrases I hear frequently, and the indented green copy is a result of my thoughts and research on the subject.1. People only want the entertainment and activities of the mega church.  We can't compete with that.Not everyone is looking for the stadium environment.  Many people prefer the closeness, the simplicity, and the smaller family environment of the small church.  Small church has a special place and offers a unique quality in our lives.  Don't try to compete with a church with a $3 Million dollar budget.  Find your own offering that is unique to the small church.  My number one suggestion is to open the church up once a week for an hour of prayer.  Jesus said the temple was a House of Prayer Luke 19:46.  There was teaching, but people certainly came to pray.  You don't need a huge staff or budget to add this hour one evening a week.  (It has to be in the evening, so people who work, can have the opportunity to come.)  Older churches with aging congregations tend to have all activities during the day and wonder why they can't get younger people to come.  We are all working at 10:00 am.  Some soft music (pre recorded instrumental is best), quiet environment, open sanctuary.  Light some candles, and create a sacred time for people to meet and be with God.  If you can possibly raise some money for it, have a trained graphic artist design a flyer or a postcard about your new hour of prayer.  Get a hundred or more copies to start.  Open up 15 minutes early, and close up 15 minutes after.  Have a greeter welcome people as they come in, and thank them for coming as they leave. 2. People can find us, they know we are here.People will drive past something for years and not notice it.  I have done that very thing.  "Oh, there is a watch repair shop. Never noticed that before."  Your church might have been there 100 years.  People drive by every day, but don't notice.  Also there is an entirely new generation of people who were not raised in church, (76 million of them).  Some have never been to church even for Easter or Christmas.  They don't know what you are about at all!  They don't know a church family is waiting to embrace them, to share the love of God with them and to grow with them on the spiritual path.  Truly, they don't know.3.  Young people just don't want to go to church.If you explore the thousands of self improvement and self development websites you will notice a couple of continuous themes.  Spiritual awakening and simplicity are nearly an obsession for many people from 20 to 35 in these online communities.  They are aware there is a spiritual dimension to their being.  They are searching,  they are into meditation.  They say, "I am spiritual, but not religious."   Yet they search. They are looking for simplicity as their lives are busy and high tech with work and starting out on their own.  They are minimalists in some cases.  They want to their spiritual life to be simple and straight forward.  It seems we always want what we don't have.  Their parents complained of being forced to go to church.  This new generation is actively looking for God.  This is an amazing opportunity for your small church. They may not want the traditional service you enjoy on Sunday morning, but your new hour of prayer can open up a new opportunities for members and you can keep your traditional service.  You may also want to add an evening bible study.  You can keep the 10:00 am one.  So don't feel you have to give up everything you hold dear about your church.  But do open up some new and creative ways for God to work in the lives of others through your church.  It isn't an exclusive club, it is God's house.  It is a house of prayer.  4.  It is such a sad thing our church in dying.  There is nothing we can do.There are things you can do!  It is going to require some change.  It will require a little bit of effort.  But not as much as you might think. - Your image.  At the turn of the century, the church was a big part of people's social lives.  There were not a lot of other distractions.  Young people have dozens of their own distractions now.  So they are looking for something different that your grandparents were looking for in church.  For the new image of the small neighborhood community church, think simple, inviting, quiet, consider the mystery of God, the sacredness, divine order and time for listening for the spirit of God. As your graphic designer works on your marketing piece about the new hour of prayer, make it simple, inviting, a time quietness in the presence of God.  A simple time of prayer.  Nourishing your spirit.  It is a special treat, and special break from the hectic demands of the world.  Take an hour to be with God.  Make sure the marketing piece contains the W's. What:  New Hour of Prayer   When:  Day and time Where:  The address and name of the church, remember not everyone knows you are there. Why:  Simplicity in prayer. A break from the hectic demands of life.  A special time to nourish the spirit and explore the mystery of God.  Take care in creating your image and message.  People need to know the benefits of coming there.  What is in it for them, not you. - The power of doubling.  I'm sure you have heard about the power of doubling with a penny.  If you double it every day for 30 days, this is what happens: Day 1: $.01 Day 2: $.02 Day 3: $.04 Day 4: $.08 Day 5: $.16 Day 6: $.32 Day 7: $.64 Day 8: $1.28 Day 9: $2.56 Day 10: $5.12 Day 11: $10.24 Day 12: $20.48 Day 13: $40.96 Day 14: $81.92 Day 15: $163.84 Day 16: $327.68 Day 17: $655.36 Day 18: $1,310.72 Day 19: $2,621.44 Day 20: $5,242.88 Day 21: $10,485.76 Day 22: $20,971.52 Day 23: $41,943.04 Day 24: $83,886.08 Day 25: $167,772.16 Day 26: $335,544.32 Day 27: $671,088.64 Day 28: $1,342,177.28 Day 29: $2,684,354.56 Day 30: $5,368,709.12 If you are starting with 20 people in your church, go ahead and look at day 12.  If every person is praying to find people to invite to your hour of prayer and each get one person per month, in 12 months you will have 83,886 and some change and you will need a larger church building. - Canvas the neighborhood around the church.  This marketing piece about your new hour of prayer is a wonderful conversation starter.  Let people around you know about it and that you would like to invite them for the prayer time.  Leave the flyer or postcard with them, don't be too pushy, just invite.  Move on to the next house.  Keep doing this until everyone within 12 blocks of the church knows about this.  Also they have your marketing piece so they have it all written down, the W's.  If professionally designed and printed, it looks cool and they will keep it around, even if their first instinct was to say no.  God can work with it and they can change their minds. - After sprinkling this inviting image around the neighborhood, also take it with you and look for opportunities to invite others you run into or meet.  God can certainly arrange meetings, especially if you are prepared to give people some information.  Keep a marketing piece with you all the time.  - Get a sign made for the church that states you have a new Hour of Prayer time and the day and time. - Give this some time to work.  Plan on supporting this hour of prayer for the next year and give it time to take off.You have had a prayer vigil.  You have created a new hour of prayer and a marketing piece with an image of simplicity, love and the mystery of God.  You are well on your way.  You have inquired of God.  You have opened your hearts and your church up to grow and to serve God.  Expect miracles.  Next week, let us explore the new simple, modern community church.  So you can continue to grow and be a blessing to the new people coming into the fold.  

Comments

Your answers to the questions show it is all in the doing isn't it? Get into action. And do not forget that you are working with a very great ally, God. xox Wilma
Hi Erin .. I like your ideas .. small churches here are finding ways of communicating with their community in a variety of ways. It's find that variety to bring the all-sorts in .. the people who want to pray, who need help, the quiet souls, the overt souls, the gardeners, the cooks, the lost souls - all looking for something beyond their present. The church could be a gate house .. a way to look around .. to be a conduit .. utilising the resources of its own community. There's so much benefit from being part of a larger group .. the whole .. rather than just your personal smaller groupings - we can learn so much from others. Thanks - very interesting .. Hilary
I love that, Hilary, the church could be a gate house. It should be a gate house for every type of soul. God loves us all. And we are each unique which is the beauty in each of us. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Wilma notes that we must remember who we are working with and with God, all things are possible. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

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