Close Your Church for Good. Chapt. 3, Sec. 3. Some churches try public relations campaigns to improve their visibility in the community and attract people to church. Below is an example from one church I pastored, and the results we saw.
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In my first year as a pastor, our church was struggling to raise attendance, and decided part of our problem was that the community was not aware of our presence. To correct this, we went with a smorgasbord approach. Members went out and knocked on doors to invite people to church. We sent out mass mailings. We hung flyers on people’s doorknobs and left CDs of church music and sermons on their windshield wipers. At one point, we even dropped a packet of tracts and pamphlets on their lawn.
About a month into our community awareness campaign, I received a letter from a man who, as a result of our efforts, had now become aware of our church. Though I no longer have the letter, here (with some of the language removed) is essentially what he wrote
Stop bothering me! Your people knock on my door when I’m trying to enjoy time with my family and they just want to talk about God and your Bible. After I tell them to leave, I find they’ve left trash about Jesus and attending your church on my doorstep. A week later, there’s more trash on my lawn. When I get the mail, I find junk mail from your church. At the park last week, you left crap on my windshield.
Aside from all the litter you’ve left lying around, and the trees you’ve destroyed getting all this printed, and the money and time you’ve wasted distributing it, I feel like I’m being stalked. If this doesn’t stop, I’m reporting you and your church to the police. Leave me alone!
I remember feeling quite indignant about this letter. I thought, “If he doesn’t want the stuff, why doesn’t he just throw it out? Why take the time to write such a nasty letter? Does he write a letter like this to local businesses when they send him junk mail or telemarketers interrupt his dinner? I doubt it!” I took the letter to the church board and showed it to them. We all decided that one letter does not reflect the views of the entire community, and we should disregard it. That is what we did, and continued with our campaign. We never did hear from the police.
Looking back, however, I think the man was right. Though it’s true we were raising our “brand recognition” in the community, and our campaign was generating awareness, we were getting noticed for all the wrong reasons. In our attempt to reach the world, we had adopted methods of the world which contradicted our message.