Buzzzzzzz. It can happen on any given day. Buzzzzzz. It may be
at the grocery store, soccer practice, or my children's school when
I enter into a conversation. Someone asks where I work and I tell
them. Buzzzzzz. Almost every time I smile as I listen to them. They
know about our church, they've heard of it, and now, they want to
know more. There's no question, a little marketing and publicity
can go a long way.
So what's the "buzz" all about? It's no mistake that people are
buzzing about what God is doing at our church. Getting people
talking about our children's ministry is a key component of our
ministry at Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Arizona. We
purposely seek to create an environment of excitement and
celebration in the community we serve, and that produces a buzz not
only among people involved in our church, but also in our entire
community. By publicizing who we are and marketing what we're
about, our ministry has flourished beyond the walls of our church
and its people.
Has your children's ministry's reputation been broadcast
throughout your church and community? Have you dreamed of people
buzzing about your children's ministry because it's such a great
place for kids? If so read on to discover how you can create a buzz
for your ministry.
KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY
"The customer is always right." More than likely you've heard
that adage. And if you've ever been a customer wronged by a
company, you've hoped that they'd have the same motto too.
Obviously, there are limits to applying this theory to children's
ministry, because the customer may want you to do something that
contradicts Scripture. However you can target your ministry to
better meet needs if you listen to your customers-parents and
children-as you design new programs.
Nearly five years ago, several parents of preschoolers came by
our church to see if we offered any programs for young children
during the summer. We live in a community with many young families,
and after doing a little research, we discovered that there was
virtually nothing offered outside of a school setting for preschool
children. After much prayer, we made a decision to offer
Kindercamps for young children in the summer. This past summer, our
camp program reached over 1,000 preschool and elementary children
in our community. We also met parents' needs by offering parenting
classes, craft camps, and aerobics.
So take your community's pulse. Find out what makes your
community tick-or not tick. Check out the schools, malls, city
recreation programs, and local family pizza hangout. Schools can
teach you what kids are learning about, what the hot topics are,
and what kids are interested in. Malls are a great place to listen.
Grab a soft drink and sit in the food court to find out what kids
are talking about. Window shop at stores that attract young
Our church recently noticed the lanyard craze-canvas necklaces
with hooks to attach keys or charms. We found a place where we
could purchase lanyards with our Kid Kountry logo on them. Kids and
adults alike have caught onto our version of the latest craze.
The key is to be a good listener and observer whenever you're
out and about, always keeping a watchful eye on what may be
attractive to people or may meet the needs of your community. It
doesn't matter whether your ministry is located in the inner city
or in a rural area, knowing the community you serve and the people
you want to reach is essential in marketing your ministry.
MARKETING IN MINISTRY?
Okay, I know what happened when you read that last sentence. You
probably cringed. Perhaps you think that marketing has no place in
the church. It all depends on what we mean by marketing.
"Marketing is simply a way of understanding the culture and then
finding a way to speak relevantly to that culture," says Pastor Tim
Wright, executive pastor at Community Church of Joy in Glendale,
Arizona. "That's what Paul did in Athens. He got a bead on the
people and their religious culture and then tailored his message to
reach them. If we're going to reach new people, we need to
understand them and speak their language. Marketing is the tool
that helps us accomplish that goal."
In 1 Corinthians 9:20-22, Paul explained his
"marketing strategy." He said, "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to
win the Jews...I have become all things to all men so that by all
possible means I might save some."
We're in the business of building relationships which is the
essence of Christianity. Publicity is a way to build healthy
relationships with the community you strive to serve. For our
children's ministry at Joy, it's important for us to build
relationships with our target audience-unchurched families. We're
deliberate in planning events and programs that appeal to the
average family in our community.
Our Family Fun Night in the fall offers families in the
community a safe alternative to the trick-or-treat scene, a need in
a community that's growing and spread out. Parents Night Out, a
childcare program that provides structured and quality programming
for kids while their parents enjoy an evening out on the town, is
another event that helps a community with lots of transient
families who don't have a solid network of baby sitters or child
Not all events take off, and learning what works and doesn't
work is important in making sure the quality doesn't suffer. For
example, our church has a large Dads and Daughters Dinner in
February, complete with a wonderful meal, speaker, and after-dinner
dancing. Girls can come with their dads, uncles, or grandpas. All
daughters are welcome, whether they're still in a highchair or
already moms themselves. Since this event was such a huge success,
we thought it would be appropriate to have a Moms and Sons Dinner.
The event flopped. We surveyed moms in the church to find out why
they didn't come and discovered that the need for this event wasn't
there. We've learned through our poor experiences that an event
isn't beneficial if it's not meeting a need and if it's not
consistent with our mission.
We want our ministry to be contagious. Part of marketing to our
community and creating an identity is that we're excited about the
ministry we're doing. This past August we showed a video during
worship to help recruit volunteers. We had lots of shots of kids
and talked about our values. After every service, people came-and
came-to find out how they could got involved. Our energy and the
excitement was contagious!
At our church when spring rolls around, we start a publicity
blitz for summer camp registration. We advertise to our immediate
audience of church members. From there we douse the community with
what we're doing for kids in the summer. Within a one-mile radius
of our church, we send out fifth and sixth graders on Rollerblades
to place door hangers on homes. A flier for the public schools and
area preschools emphasizes the camp programs in a very generalized
way to enable the church to advertise in the public schools. We
place posters in area fitness centers, dance studios, community
centers, and community colleges and universities to target our
We call and send faxes to local newspapers to let them know what
we're doing. This has prompted newspapers doing stories on what we
have for kids in the summer. Because many communities are looking
to churches to provide alternatives for kids, local newspapers and
even schools have given us the freedom to publicize our
church-sponsored activities. Many newspapers are looking for
stories or information for special sections. If you provide the
information, it's free advertising! Find out who does the "news
beat" in your area and send everything to this person.