Now, I don’t want to be too bold here, but I am just going to say it. We have blind spots in our Evangelism marketing. There, I said it. How do these blind spots affect us? They lead us to false conclusions about our efforts and convince us to quit, when we should just alter our course slightly. Let’s look at where these blind spots came from and how we can start to reduce their impact on our ministry.
If you really drill down to the basics, evangelism literally means to share the Good News. And that’s it. Evangelism is the passionate desire to share Jesus, and, at the core, the mission for those who serve God’s Kingdom. We know that God can use a week-long sermon series and He can use an emotional two-minute discussion with a stranger. In both cases, this is pure, raw evangelism.
But at times, as we pour our best efforts into searching for new and inventive ways to reach the people around us in our communities, we don’t see new faces in the crowd during our services. Are we missing an important piece to the evangelism puzzle?
Perhaps the biggest blind spot that we see time and time again lies in the uncomfortable realization that historically, churches reach out to themselves instead of to others. It sounds harsh, but it is a reality of the human experience. We see things from our perspective. This is why there are professional marketing companies in the world. Their job is to see it from the other guy’s side. How do marketers get past themselves to understand a different group of people? They start with a targeted audience, or persona.
One of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves is, “Who is it that we desire to reach?” Of course, as missionaries, we desire to reach anybody and everybody. Why would we ever intend to reach only a select few, when our mission is to reach the whole world?
Hopefully that answer, and comfort, comes from the reality of outreach—targeting a specific audience is the most effective way to reach people. We do this all the time when targeting those who live on the streets for homeless ministries, or inviting only women to a women’s ministries event. We are not purposely leaving out people—we are simply using a more effective, targeted approach.
Unfortunately, the idea of targeting audiences for church events is often ignored, in preference to the “wide-net” philosophy. We spread our nets wide, hoping to capture as many people as possible. The problem is, we let virtually everyone slip through the cracks.
Not convinced? Let me share an illustration.
Say a church wants to host a health event for their community. The church members want to share the importance of a healthy vegan lifestyle, while also sharing tips for a longer life. From our perspective, these two themes go together as part of our health message. This certainly sounds like a good way to reach a larger group of people… right?
The thing is, the church has a blind spot to two different audiences. They have assumed that the people in their town care about BOTH healthy eating and healthy living, just because it is true of themselves. They also assume that they will reach any and all people interested in any aspect of healthy living by covering both topics. Unfortunately, in general, this is not the case. Those that are interested in vegan cooking classes may be younger and more conscious of animal rights and sustainability, while those that are older may be more interested in living longer. These are two very different, very distinct audiences.
So, what happens if you offer both types of events? Unfortunately, you get even less people to show up.
You see, when people receive new information, they instantaneously decide if it is applicable to their life. If it looks interesting, they will keep reading. The problem is, because of how our brains work, they are now looking for reasons NOT to attend.
By planning an event for two different personas, you simultaneously lose both.
You will still get the older generation that sees the correlation between healthy living and vegan cooking, or the man who just found out that he has a food related disease and needs to learn to eat healthy. But you likely won’t get the young health-conscious couple looking for new vegan recipes that are too young to care about living longer, or the older couple who made a resolution to eat healthier, but still loves their meat and potatoes.
So taking the time to hone in the target audience you’d like to reach, truly makes your marketing more effective.
Here’s what we believe is the cure to this evangelism marketing blind spot:
1. Determine the problem you are solving in your community, and consider that groups relevant needs and struggles. Don’t assume anything, but break the problem down to its base level.
2. Address what solution you have to offer. Does it fit the needs of the people in your community? Do they understand how your solution will benefit them.
3. Determine the general demographics that are best served with this solution. Look at Age, Gender, Income, kids (Y/N), married (Y/N), to determine who this outreach would best match.
4. Identify your unique qualifications to address the problem and the solution.
With this simple approach we can start to look beyond accidentally trying to reach people who already know what we know, and do what we do.
There’s a quote that I recently came across that says, “Know your limits; but if you have the passion, pursue it intelligently.” And that is really what evangelism marketing boils down to: pursuing our passion intelligently, in a way that will draw others closer to God.
By starting with a focus on who and how you will help your community from their perspective, you’ll give yourself the best chance to use your marketing dollars effectively. And in the end, Better and more effective marketing means more people through your doors to learn about Jesus.
By Vince Williams, Co-Founder and Vice President of SermonView