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Last week at dinner prayers with my parents, I asked the LORD to help me to let go of my passion in ICT (Information and Communications Technology), and to instil this growing passion for His Church. The irony of my prayer is that God gave me the skills, gifts and passion in all things ICT to root myself in freelance work and to continue my part-time role in the secular workplace.

A few days later and I find myself reflecting on the designs and marketing of a local church – drafting ideas on church logos, and exploring the identity of a church fellowship, without necessarily seeing it as a physical building in a prime location, but as the body of Christ.

I’ve had the pleasure to attend churches across different countries, including churches in a cross-cultural environment. I’ve visited some ghastly church websites and I’ve cringed at some poorly-designed material, whether it’s flyers or dodgy-looking PowerPoint slides. I also keep church materials that have either appealed to me, or simply because I loved the graphic design.

I think British churches don’t live out the vocations that can be used to serve the LORD for the Kingdom of God, compared with our brothers and sisters in Christ across the pond. It may be partly due to the churches lack of understanding about how to market and brand a church in its prime location, which I will reflect on later – but mostly, people don’t want to commit too much time to voluntary-based work. I think it’s sad overall, as Britain has a strong track record in media and design, and the UK does have a professional manner in all things marketing. Unfortunately, local churches either don’t know how to market itself in a very secular environment – other than host the usual ministries, and at times – they don’t feel it’s relevant.

Why should a church bother with marketing? Unfortunately, people always judge a book by its cover, just like people judge others by their appearance. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. Good marketing can go viral, only when it’s done right. The church can play a God-honouring role in that they can be honest in their approach in marketing, especially when presenting the Gospels and being hospitable to others in need.

If a local church congregation is pumping its resources into sound biblical teaching and discipleship classes, and they have their own worship band and various outreach materials like the Alpha Course or Christianity Explored – marketing is essential.

A typical family will often judge a church by how the church can cater for their needs, which may often lie in good music, friendly faces, feeling welcomed – and of course, a Sunday school group so the parents can drop off their kids until after service. Unfortunately, it’s hard to discern if a church is biblically sound, unless there are key words floating about the church website, or if there are sermons that one can listen to, before committing to a Sunday worship service.

The dynamics of a local church using media and design can catapult people to explore the church, simply because of human curiosity. If it works in the tourism industry, surely it can work for the church to learn about the Good News. I also understand that one doesn’t need marketing and all that jazz to reach out to simply connect with others, but the church needs to reach out in new ways, and I’m not simply referring to the usual social media tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Video, billboards, flyers and postcards all work effectively.

Look at how Sherwood Baptist Church embraced the Hollywood giants with its home-brewed movies without coming across as bible thumpers. As much as I enjoyed Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous – they chose to interact with cinemagoers using conventional mediums to reach the lost using an everlasting message on faith, hope and love – and the need to know and accept Jesus as their LORD and Saviour.

It can be argued that God’s Church is like a growing hospital with ever-growing services and rooms to accommodate people with sicknesses, psychological disorders and addictions – but we need to remember, we are not serving ourselves, but building for the Kingdom of God and serving the LORD God.

How can the lost and needy learn about the Jesus Christ, if the local church are still stuck using old methods of evangelism in the 21st Century?

~Richard