church marketing pastors transactions relationshipsRecently my friend received a postcard from a church that he no longer attends.  It seemed like the old church was just trying to keep in touch.

A Postcard From the Old Church Is Nice, Right?

It certainly looked nice enough. On the front of the postcard was the church logo and next to that a suitably retro-distressed font type telling her “Happy Birthday”. Then the handwritten note on the back read thus:

Have an amazing Birthday! We are so glad you are a part of our [church] family! Many blessings on your Birthday!

The note, even though handwritten to convey a more personal connection, read like a boilerplate template (I checked and other friends received the exact same message). It made us wonder whether the church staff knows that she doesn’t attend their church anymore.

The bottom of the birthday card had another logo and a pre-typed message saying that this heart-felt message was from the pastor and the whole church family.

To top it all off, the address wasn’t even handwritten, it was printed on a sticker.

What’s the Big Deal?

Does this seem like a trivial thing? It’s probably something that most people would let go or pass off as just a nice gesture. But to me it signals a mindset that is increasingly common among Christians; the transactional mindset or treating people like numbers.

Christians are replicating the marketing practices of major corporations, to the same result. The idea is to maximize the amount of relationship for the least amount of cost, but the focus is all on the cost. They try to cover this up by placing fancy graphics on the outside or finding a cool font, but the truth of the matter is that no one cares how it looks if it looks generic.

People don’t think you care about them because you keep their names in a database.

True, at least this church tried to do something, to reach out and build the relationship, but I think they could have done better.

Churches Need to Change How They Deal With People

What’s the solution to transactional thinking? Focus on the relationships.

Another friend of mine said that at least they did something to extend the relationship. They could have just as easily not sent a card. While I agree, I think it could be even better. Handwrite letters the old fashioned way, use postcards but write something personal on them. Pray about them, find a word for them, connect with them.

Whatever you decide to do to connect, don’t just let them know that you remember them. That’s just not enough.

But relationship is a two way street and soon we’ll discuss what people can do do help build a solid relationship.


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