I often get the opportunity to write some advertising and branding for Andy Stanley’s church, North Point. They are a fun client and understand the nuances it takes to advertise a church. But unfortunately some Christians confuse “how creative their message is” with “how loud their message is.” Case in point, last night I heard an ad for a church that is giving away a car. They want you to take their church for a “test drive” so if you visit them you can register to win a new car. When I went to their website I saw they also offered a free continental breakfast on Sundays and an inflatable thing for kids to jump on.
I like advertising. It’s my job and is the reason I am able to wear such comfortable socks and I applaud that church for trying. Seriously, it shows a lot of courage and desire to throw yourself out there, but promotions like this are a little dangerous. And here’s why, when it comes to advertising and sales, customers renew the way they first purchased. By that I mean, if a special sale is why you first bought your watch, then if that watch store ever wants to get you to buy again, they have to run a similar sale. Study after study has shown that we are creatures of habit. We repeat ourselves, so if you attract a big crowd with a car giveaway or hot new worship band or anything else, you create a relationship built on a reward not a redeemer. And when you try to take away that reward you’ll lose a lot of your guests. It’s hard to transition to God when you started the conversation with a gimmick. Besides that, I think they missed some really great headlines for the car promotion:
1. Forget hot rods, come win a God rod.
2. If you liked the free car, you’ll love not burning in hell in a fiery lake of sulfur for eternity.
3. Come for the car, stay for the intimate relationship with a tender savior.
4. Drive home, and to heaven, when you visit this Sunday.
Those were awful, but the truth is that advertising church is not impossible. Lifechurch just did a great campaign where they essentially asked, “what if you only had 31 days to live?” It was powerful, honest and creative. And from what my friends there tell me, it really engaged a lot of people.