Church Public Relations Part 2
By Paul A. Murray
General Ministry Conference just highlights the great assets that this organization has to offer the world. First and foremost we have Jesus Christ who desires a relationship with every human being. In order to accomplish this task with people of free will, god has appointed us to labor in His fields and bring in the harvest that is ripe.
As I look around at General Ministry Conference, I was just amazed at all the godly men and women who sacrifice much for His name’s sake. Men and women who believe in the Word, who live a committed life and who have a message that cam bring hope into any hopeless situation. So, the question begs, “What are we doing about it?” How effective are we in creating a public relations campaign at the grass roots level that will introduce our churches, ministries and pastors to the communities we serve?
As I mentioned in part 1, public relations is the process of relating to people what is happening, but in a positive manner that will encourage participation. Public relations involve two major components. First, one must understand the program. This involves facts finding determining what a church is and its strengths and weaknesses. Second, planning a program of communication that will inform and encourage. This will involve the use of media and techniques.
Studies by, the Barna Research Group and other polls have shown that Americans are becoming less interested in the church. They are becoming-increasingly self-centered and less likely to join churches that require commitments.
The old-fashion loyalty is disappearing, whether for a denomination or a product brand. At a recent meeting with some ministers discussing this very issue, the following suggestions were recommended to improve a church’s image and ministry. They included giving people options by offering Sunday School and worship services in a-variety of times and formats. Develop ethnic ministries to special ‘groups. Provide ministry program, including Bible studies away from the church buildings. Create an “inviting” mentality among members and leaders encouraging them to invite friends and associates to church. Raise the level of friendliness of church leaders. Find the most effective and least threatening way to recognize visitors.
Although churches and religious organizations talk about public relations, most of the business world talks about marketing. Marketing is defined as the human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through the exchange process. Marketing is finding out what a guy wants and making a deal with him. To successfully “market” a church three things must be done.
First, the church must decide what kind of church it is. Second, the church must decide who the target market is. Third, the church must provide the kind of ministries that will benefit and attract the target market population.
Decide what kind of church you are.
Churches are categorized by the type of area they draw members from: regional, citywide, section of city, community or subdivision, family or downtown. Churches can be categorized by the type of community: inner city, upper class, blue collar, transitional neighborhood, resort community or rural. Churches can be categorized by the type of program emphasis they have: evangelistic, platform centered, family, Bible teaching, missions, cell group, social action and conservative or liberal.
Choose a target market
The establishing of a “public” that will be the target audience for a church is one of the most difficult tasks. Personally, I don’t think a church can reach out to an entire community – community being the people in a certain geographical area. The reason for this is that most churches appeal only to certain groups of people. The groups might be categorized on the basis of socioeconomic status, musical preference, age, education and so on. The people who make up these groups probably would prefer to go to a church that is frequented by people like themselves. It is difficult to make them cross socioeconomic barriers.
Effective public relations will understand the church and the target audience to communicate the church’s message. Public relations serves as an “introducer” or go-between. The message should use a rifle and not a shotgun approach. Aim at a specific public or target and the probability of the message being received is much stronger.
Provide ministries for target audience
The church must decide what kind of programs will attract and keep the particular target audience it is seeking to reach. Here the ‘church must be creative. A simple survey can be created to ask the public what they want most from a church. This eight to ten question survey can he created, and couples can canvas rhea local area of the church and seek the input of the community. The church can then analyze the responses and see if the church is meeting the needs of the community in an effective manner that will, make the receptive to your church.
The church has one major- problem in public relations work: The typical business tries to create, through its published; relations program, an unoffensive, pleasant toward it and its products. “The customer is always right” is the motto the church must point out that people are sinners; it must call sin by its right name. Because of this, the church can be quite offensive to people. The stronger stand a (hutch takes against sin, the more offensive it becomes to some of the public j.11. the community.
The “customer” may or may not be right to the church; the Bible is always tight. A church can become so concerned about its public relations “image” that it fails to publicize its convictions. The church must work harder than others in this matter of public relations, we, cannot and should not compromise the message just to draw a crowd. I do not believe that any of us are interested in a crowd. We must be true to our calling and step out and use new means and medians to reach people but never compromise the message.
The tools that are readily available to the local church at little to no cost include press releases that can be written about upcoming events. You can even promote a special sermon on a weekly basis at no cost to the church. Public Service Announcements can do the same thing as a press release, sent to television, cable and radio stations in your local area. This is just the beginning of introducing you and your church to your community. And do not forget the new source being provided by Headquarters. The ALJC commercials are professionally done and with a small investment, you will begin to introduce your church to your target audience.
From: www.visionministriesinternational.org web site. July 2009
This article “Church Public Relations” was written By: Paul A. Murray
“This article may not be not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat meat. Throw away the bones.”