Use the word “marketing” in a church setting and you’re likely to evoke arguments as hot as Wisconsin is now cold. A perfect example of this is Christianity Today’s recent article by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson today titled “Jesus is not a Brand.” Within days blogs everywhere responded with followups.
While Stevenson makes some very good points, his 8-page article is so convoluted with analysis he loses context of God’s simple command: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation,” Mark 16:15.
Whether we refer to it as outreach, evangelism or marketing, our goal is to spread the good news of Jesus. To do that, we have to get out of our jar and get out into the public. Simple as that.
With this thought in mind, let’s examine a simple plan. Yes, it’s a marketing plan and, yes, it originally developed in the business world. But before you get all riled up…
Read my disclaimer
Will this business tool bring lost souls to Jesus? No, of course not. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
Might the Holy Spirit use this tool for his purposes? Of course. Along with his command to spread the gospel, God also gives us knowledge—practical knowledge that can be used completely to his glory.
A marketing plan can be God’s outreach tool.
So what’s a marketing plan and how can we apply it to our outreach?
As Wikipedia defines it, a marketing plan is a written document that details the necessary actions to achieve one or more marketing (or outreach, in our case) objectives. A marketing plan helps us define our outreach goal, what we need to do to achieve that goal and in what order. It helps us organize our thinking.
Marketing plans vary but they usually examine three main points:
1. Define your product, service or unique selling proposition
O.K. This one’s a no-brainer. Jesus. Only Jesus.
Who is Jesus? What are his physical or spiritual features? What benefits does he offer? What sets him apart from anything else? What worldy things compete with Jesus for our love and attention?
2. Define your customers
Or, in our case, to whom are the people you want to evangelize? A specific neighborhood? Your city? A worldy mission? The online public? By defining a specific evangelism field, we can better deliver God’s message according to individual cultures and environments.
What are their demographics? Age? Gender? Income?
Where do they live? Where do they work? What are their habits and lifestyles?
What is their current faith status and affiliation?
3. Define Your Plan and Budget
How have you previously reached out to this mission field? What results could you see? What was most effective? What was your cost, in time and budget, to reach out?
What is your future outreach plan? What amount of your budget is allocated to this plan? In addition to God’s heavenly Word, what earthly tools can you use to implement this plan? In what order will you implement these plans and use these tools?