Direct mail and fundraising consultant Dale Berkey talked to me recently about how ministries and the marketing of ministries need to be intertwined. Many Christian organizations have a kind of ministry/marketing schizophrenia. Which symptoms from this list can you identify in your church or ministry?
1. Detached Donor Syndrome: Review your communications with your donors: appeal letters, emails, phone scripts, videos — the works. Do they reflect the concept of “You give me money so I can do ministry”? Look for phrases like “help us accomplish,” “we need,” “if you … then we can.” Schizophrenia! If your donor communications express the idea of “Let’s do ministry together” … with phrases like “you can accomplish,” “you’ll make,” “you’ll touch,” “together, we will,” and the like … you’re reflecting an attitude that the donor is part of the team, that God is going to work through the entire ministry family to accomplish His plan. That’s biblical. That’s healthy.
2. Divided and Conquered Syndrome: Check your stomach. How do you feel when you arrive at work in the morning? Relaxed, energized? Or tense, worried? When a Christian organization sees its ministry and its marketing as separate things, that schizophrenia often grows into (or out of) an even more fractured environment. Turf warfare is tragically commonplace in Christian organizations.
In these ministries, not only have marketing and ministry come to be regarded as separate things, but each function — each department, each office — has evolved into a miniature “state” all its own. Frustration runs high, efficiency runs low; quantity and quality of ministry suffer. Let’s have a big meal together and recommit to each other and the overall mission.
3. Absent Father Syndrome: Even a ministry leader who has no God-given gift for marketing needs to be involved in marketing — because ministry is not like building Ford trucks. It is not assembly line work. It is the outgrowth of “community.” The principal is one part of the team; the other parts include staff, volunteers, maybe a development agency, certainly the donors. We’re all members of the body of Christ, with specialties that fit together. A ministry leader who detaches from marketing weakens the overall effort. Come back, boss! We need you!