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Church marketing plan enhances outreach

SUMMARY: Often local congregations spend time together in planning the church’s annual calendar. Members list ministries with specifics that include date and time, resources needed, committee assignments and so forth. 

However, the one element that could visibly connect those ministries to the community (target audience) is a marketing plan. Our online marketing plan tutorial is available to help you customize your plan.

What is church marketing?

Marketing is the process of the church identifying and meeting or contributing to the spiritual, community and service needs of its neighbors.

Why should your church create a marketing plan?

  • To fulfill your church's God-designed calling and purpose;
  • To prosper and grow in the areas where God has uniquely gifted your church;
  • To improve communication with the people you want to reach; and
  • To be good stewards of church resources.

United Methodist Communications has created online tutorial at umcom.org/churchmarketingplan that walks you through the entire process. It invites you to complete a congregational demographic report, a congregational behavior and response report, community demographic and behaviors reports, and a church budget and a staffing report. Along the way, the marketing plan team completes related homework.

Who is involved?

The marketing plan coordinator, a staff member or a volunteer, leads and coordinates details for this process. He or she keeps the master copy of your marketing plan.

The marketing plan team is composed of church leaders who will carry out the action steps. In smaller churches, this may be the pastor and the marketing plan coordinator. In midsize churches, it could be a team of five to seven. Larger churches could involve up to 20 people.

Here is a brief summary of the five steps for the marketing team:

  1. Lay the foundation and set direction. Determine your congregation’s core values, demographics, vision statement and key messaging/elevator statement.
  2. Look at the church’s view of itself and the community’s perception. Determine if your church has resources and abilities to meet needs or if you should develop new ministries.
  3. Gather for a strategy retreat to focus on a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to determine your target audience, strategic objectives, goals and resources.
  4. Brainstorm, plan and implement specific tactics and tools to support your church’s goals and measurable objectives to reach its target audience. Decide deadlines, coordinate people and develop a budget.
  5. Track and record progress, evaluate results and adjust as needed. As you evaluate and learn about successes, communicate and celebrate them! As you learn of challenges, review them!

If your congregation wants to influence lives, introduce people to Christ and engage them through Christian discipleship, you can accomplish this through your marketing plan.

As your church leaders invest time, energy and prayer into this process, you will create a workable plan that embraces the unique church God created you to be and connects you to the people God calls you to reach.

Start the process now at www.umcom.org/ChurchMarketingPlan.