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In the early years of our church, we spent a lot of money on advertisement to introduce and promote our church and our activities. For some reason, we thought this was the best way to get the word out about this new church plant. I think all the church planting gurus and manuals have somehow convinced us that this is the way to go.
But at the end of the year, as we looked over the church surveys (we try to make everyone fill one out), we found a shocking discovery. In the first 3 years of our church, only a handful of people (literally, I can count them on my hand) came to find our church through a flyer or an ad we put out.
We quickly started to ask the all important question – “Is it worth spending all these resources on advertisement if the net result is to small?” Well, maybe for that one person who came to know Christ. But in the bigger picture of things, we came to the conclusion that we can channel God’s resources in a better way.
So what is the best advertisement for our church?
First of all, a lot of things have changed since the late 90’s, therefore I believe there are some good ways (cheap and free) to get the word out (thank you social media). Secondly, if some churches choose to advertise, then that is great. I am not being a hater, nor do I think it is wrong to advertise. Our church tries to get the word out through various free modes of communication.
But for us, we have concluded that the best form of advertisement comes in 2 forms:
2) Through relational networks. It is incredible how the best marketers are people that we trust and know. I don’t know how many times I tried out a restaurant or a new place just because someone I knew well told me about it. Then once I am convinced, I become that restaurant’s evangelist and I tell everyone that I know; and the ripple goes on and on. Don’t underestimate the relationships that people have with others to be one of the main avenues for advertisement. Whenever September rolls around and I meet the new students, I always ask, “How did you find out about our church?” and almost 100% of the times, they say, “I heard from so-and-so to come and check out this church.”
Therefore, this year we will once again we are going to focus on the Gospel to transform lives and trusting that people will share the Good News to others. Can you imagine what the early disciples could have done if they had Facebook, Twitter and blogs? Hmm… but even without it, they flipped the world upside down. Lord Jesus, please teach us.