The Dirty Secret of Church Marketing

I’ve spent so much time thinking about the connection between church marketing and growth. Why does so much church marketing seem to not work?

church marketing

Here are four areas to consider when trying to develop an invite culture at your church. Use these as a filter to think through how robust your invite culture is at your church. Gather your team and discuss whether these four areas are robustly represented in your church. Chances are you need to stop thinking about church marketing and start working on building the invite culture at your church.

Invite Culture vs Church Marketing

1. You Need a Flywheel

Building a robust invite culture at your church requires more than a single silver bullet.

There isn’t one simple step that will do this. It’s hundreds of small steps in every avenue of communication that we share with our people. It’s about consistently showing how it’s normal for people to invite their friends to church. People like us do things like this.

It’s repeated steps in a consistent direction over a long period that will see people connected and motivated to invite their friends. It’s like a flywheel. It takes tons of effort on the frontend and the more you push it, you go from pushing hard to hardly pushing.

Over time, all that cumulative effort makes a difference in your community.

Big Days are Still a Big Deal

Every church has three or four Sundays a year that I would call big days. These are days where two things happen:

  1. Your people are more likely to invite their friends. They’re more inclined to invite people on Christmas, Easter, and a few other days during the year.
  2. Their friends are more likely to attend. Even in the most post-Christian communities that we serve, there are a few days during the year that people who don’t normally attend church are more likely to walk through your church doors.

You need to build a strategy around how to encourage your people to invite their friends on that day so that when their friends attend, they have a successful experience and ultimately see them return. That’s why we like to say that “big days are a really big deal.” It’s an important time of year for you to focus a disproportionate amount of energy to increase the invite culture of your church.

What are you doing on Easter to ensure that the maximum number of people in your church invite their friends and family to be a part of it?

How are you crafting the Mother’s Day experience so that every Mom in your church invites everyone in their family? Or are you providing a great enough Mother’s Day experience that every kid will invite their Mom?

A Sunday Series Builds Momentum

Have you ever logged onto Netflix or maybe Disney+ and you don’t just want to know what to watch but you want to know what else is on that you might want to watch next? The human mind is wired to want to know what’s coming next.

This happens with our weekend services. People attend, whether that’s in person or online, and they may not connect with what’s going on here and now, but they wonder what’s coming next. Chunking your teaching into pieces that create a series will help build momentum. A series can be anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks long and can focus on a particular book or a theme. A series takes a logical approach and provides multiple opportunities for people to invite their friends and family to attend church.

It’s an important principle of church growth that we help communicate in a way that ultimately captures the imagination of the people who we are attempting to see change into the people God wants them to be.

How are we going to see people change if we can’t first capture their attention? Preaching a series of weekend messages will help us build that kind of momentum. Having a common system for onboarding every new series in a way that focuses your people on who they can invite is a critical piece of church growth that we’ve seen time and again in the fastest-growing churches.

Just Because

Growing churches are the kind of churches that develop a system that reinforces the value of their people inviting friends into your church’s community.

The underlying assumption here is that your church is the kind of church that people not only want to attend but want to tell their friends about. Time and again, we’ve seen in the fastest-growing churches across the country that they go out of their way to not just be a Sunday church but repeatedly find ways to encourage their people to get out of their seats and into the streets to make a difference in their communities.

We know that this is a “God thing” but the community also sees it as a “good thing”. It creates a commonplace for people to talk to their friends about their church.

People want to be part of a church that’s making a difference. When our churches are motivating people to get out of their seats and onto the street to make a difference, it’s the kind of thing that people want to talk to their friends about.

When was the last time your church made a notable, positive impact in your community? How are you partnering with other leaders in the community for the good of your community? How are you celebrating the good things your church is doing in a way that makes it easy for your people to share about it with friends?


This article on church marketing originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

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Rich Birch
Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. He blogs at and is a sought after speaker and consultant on multisite, pastoral productivity and communications.