Church Marketing - Concept and Utility

Article excerpt

The church mission and objectives are more and more difficult to accomplish because of the secularization of the today's society. Church's use of marketing is a sensitive issue that has both supporters and critics.

This article subscribes to the positive point of view that suggests that religious organizations can apply marketing in order to fulfill their mission and to obtain better results. It also claims that the use of marketing by the church and clergy does not contradict the religious core values and that church marketing should develop a theoretical framework of its own and a specific set of methods, techniques and instruments.

The present paper reveals the complexity of religious marketing. It presents a holistic view of the church marketing and proposes a specific conceptual framework for it. The article demonstrates that religious organizations' marketing should be regarded as a form of social marketing and it briefly describes the church marketing process.

Key Words:

marketing, social marketing, church marketing, church marketing process.

Introduction

Various studies1 show, both in Romania and worldwide, that the majority of people have declared they believe in God, but the percentage of people who attend church services and other religious activities is much smaller. It is probably this reality of a formal religiosity of a great part of the church members that leads a growing number of the clergy to appeal to modern instruments: leadership, management, marketing in order to achieve the objectives of their religious organizations.

In conclusion, religious organizations face a dilemma: how could their message reach a public that is less and less preoccupied with living religion and which is caught in the chaos of the day-to-day life, having many organizations trying to win their adherence. Marketing offers a possible solution to this dilemma.

Marketing is a concept that the general public associates with the business world, with monetary exchange (buying and selling). It seems hard to accept and to understand that marketing can be used in order to support social causes, not to mention religion, a domain focused on spiritual values. Nevertheless, practice has proved that the connections between marketing and religion can be multiple and profound, and academics have begun to deepen the study of these relationships.

Shawchuck, Kotler and Wrenn describe the reaction of most people (that don't know precisely the marketing concept and approach) when being told of the possibility of using marketing in the domain of religion: ?Metaphorically, a lack of understanding as to the true nature of marketing can be linked to the individual who has seen a hammer being used only as a tool of destruction and who, upon being handed a hammer when asking for a tool to use in construction, wonders if the other person has taken leave of his senses. In the same way, if marketing has been perceived as only deceptive advertising by dishonest salespersons and as efforts to manipulate demand (tool of destruction), it will be dismissed by individuals or religious institutions when faced with problems that it might help them solve."2

It is in the intention of this article to demonstrate that marketing can help the church solve some of its problems. In this respect, some issues need to be clarified, and in the opinion of the authors four main ideas make up the core of the present work.

The first one is that marketing can be applied to church and other religious organizations. The article presents the multiple aspects of church marketing, a marketing specialization that redefines marketing concepts, principles, methods, techniques and instruments and applies them from the perspective of a religious organization.

The second idea consists of the fact that the marketing framework has to be adapted to the peculiarities of religious organizations, in order to respect church's values and dogma. …