Jake Dell, manager of digital marketing and advertising for the Episcopal Church, thinks about thing that the mainline churches can do together right now which will deepen our reach and improve how we communicate our Gospel message.
The Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes 2012 conference is chock full of ideas and take-aways. Here are a few that I came up with on my own.
Number 1: Start buying Google search traffic. People go to Google before they go to their therapist or minister. They Google "Does anyone care?" or "God, do you exist?" or "I need peace" or "Is Jesus real?"
We should be buying this search traffic and routing it to custom landing pages, based on location, so our local churches can start answering these cries for help.
Marketers call this "lead generation and conversion." I think Saint Paul called it that too.
Our outreach and evangelism committees are going to be quite busy.
(Not surprisingly, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is already doing this. Check out SearchForJesus.net.)
Number 2: Publish a mainline trade magazine. One estimate I've heard states that the Episcopal Church alone (and taken as a whole) generates 2 billion dollars in annual revenue. Assuming that figure is roughly the same for the United Methodist, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America then we mainline Protestants are an 8 to 12 billion dollar industry. Maybe even more.
Any multi-billion dollar industry I know of makes common cause. They start a trade association. They publish a magazine. They share best practices.
Oh, and there are these people called advertisers with lots of money to spend to reach that 8 to 12 billion dollar market. Maybe it's time (once again) to let the Procters and the Gambles of the world underwrite some of our mission and ministry.
Outreach magazine is great example, but it targets the evangelical church audience. In the spirit of the new journalism, we should aggregate this content and add to it so it reflects our own experience as America's historic churches.
Number 3: Develop a common calendar of marketing opportunities. Let's face it, real news doesn't happen very often. Instead, the media we consume and most of the events we attend or care about from March Madness to the Academy Awards to church on Sunday happen according to a calendar that's been planned out months, sometimes years in advance.
(In fact here it is: http://www.zapaday.com/home/.)
Do the mainline churches have a prophetic word or a word of comfort to say to mainstream culture? If so, let's put our heads together and think about how we're going to engage God's world and God's people, where they already are, from Coachella to Cannes.