A while back I entered a blogging tournament. We were asked to answer this question:
“What is your best marketing and/or outreach idea for under $500?”
Here was my answer:
What is the best way for a church to spend $500? Give Presence. (No, not Presents… though that might be part of giving presence.)
People today are tired of commercials (TV and radio), door hangers, junk mail, email spam, surveys, and telemarketers. Most people only get annoyed by such things, and this is especially true when such marketing stuff comes from the church. They think, “If that church has nothing better to do with its money then send me junk mail, I’m sure not going to attend there and give them my money!”
The best thing we can do with our “Marketing/Outreach” budget is to give presence by joining the community in what they are already doing.
We can join the people in our town and city where they already are, and do what they are already doing.
Typically, with such a strategy, a church planter doesn’t need to worry about how to gather a crowd or get the word out about a big event, because the city (or whoever is organizing the event) is already doing such things.
So go to your local Chamber of Commerce or city website and get a community calendar, as well as a list of civic organizations and community service events. Then be present at as many of these events and projects as possible. Be the most active, joyful, service-minded citizens your city has ever seen.
For the Fourth of July Festival, join whatever the city is doing.
Serve free hot chocolate at the New Year’s Parade.
Build homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Volunteer at the homeless shelter.
Give out free beads at Mardi Gras. (Ok, maybe not that one.)
To effectively reach our culture, we need to stop trying to do our own thing. Instead, go to where the crowds are already gathering. It’s easier, cheaper, and frequently, a lot more fun.
Far too often, churches feel the need to “do our own thing” and we often end up competing with the community we are trying to serve. But if we decide instead to come along side the community, and be present with them in whatever they are doing, then we will build relationship with them and be a true blessing to the community in the way God wants us to be.
In the comment section below, share some ways that you have joined with your community to give presence and bless the community in which you live.