Church Marketing Plan


    We're Glad You're Here!
    Your church wants to impact lives, helping people know Christ and engage them through Christian discipleship and outreach marketing. The way you can accomplish this is through your Church Marketing Plan.

    As your church leaders invest time, energy and prayer into this process, you will create an outreach plan that takes the unique church God has created you to be and connect you to the people He has called you to reach.


    What is Church Marketing?

    "Church Marketing is the process of the church identifying and meeting or contributing to the spiritual, community (sense of belonging) and service needs of its neighbors and surrounding neighborhood." - Overcoming Your Fear of Flying


    In other words, church marketing is strategic planning for outreach evangelism.

    Why should your church create an Outreach 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 how you communicate with and impact the people you want to reach for the Kingdom.
    • To be good stewards of church resources (time, energy, money, people, facilities), ensuring they are working together for your church to be most effective.  


    Who is involved in Outreach Marketing?


    The Marketing Plan Coordinator is a staff or lay person recruited by the Lead Pastor to lead and coordinate details for this process. He/she will keep the MASTER copy of YOUR MARKETING PLAN.

    The Marketing Plan Team is made up of church leaders who will carry out the homework and action steps to develop YOUR MARKETING PLAN. In smaller churches, this may be the Lead Pastor and Marketing Plan Coordinator. In mid-size churches, it could be a team of five to seven. And, in larger churches, up to 20 people. Consider including the following people on the team:

    • Pastor
    • Communications Coordinator
    • Evangelism Chair
    • Outreach Chair
    • Age-level Coordinator nearest to your target audience (as this become clearer throughout the process)
    • Discipleship Chair
    • Trustees (if appropriate)
    • Volunteers gifted in marketing and communications

    Prepare the following reports and distribute them, along with YOUR MARKETING PLAN workbooks, to each Marketing Plan Team Member.
    • Congregational Demographic Report
    • Congregational Behavior and Response Report
    • Community Demographic and Behaviors Reports
    • Church Budget and Staffing Report
    Luke 5:27-32 Jesus Calls Levi

    27 After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 28And he got up, left everything, and followed him. 

    29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 30The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 31Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’

    I attended a Leadership Conference at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. In one of the first sessions, founding pastor Bill Hybels spoke about the Core Values of that church, and used this scripture as an illustration. He explained that the relevance of the story was not just that Jesus called a sinner – because tax collectors were regarded in Jesus’ day as the worst of sinners. The power of the story was not solely that Levi left everything and answered the call.

    Hybells noted that Levi’s response to Jesus’ affirmation of his worthiness was to think of his tax collector friends, a group that was about as far removed from the religious institutions of Jesus’ day as you could be. How could he help Jesus and the disciples reach this group of the most despised and “un-churchy” individuals of first century Palestine? Then Levi devised a plan to make it happen.

    In the language of Marketing, we speak of internal and external audiences. The New Testament is full of these examples, though different language and metaphors are used. Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom is full of metaphors for those on the inside of the community (Jews) and those outside. It is clear that there is a different context for the message to be delivered but the same message of salvation for both groups.

    As we see the church launched in the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles the risen Christ instructs the disciples to be “be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It’s clear that in responding to Christ’s call, there is one message of redemption and transformation; but one plan for communicating it all audiences will not be enough.

    As you work on your Local Church Marketing Plan, think of this is the context of Jesus commandment to be witnesses to Jerusalem, Judah, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. What is your plan to bring the Gospel to the despised and unchurched of our day? Where is the Samaria in your world that Christ would call you to take your witness? What’s your plan?

    Guide to Icons
    Your Guide to the Icons:
    Thoughout this process, we use several grapical icons to indicate what's involved at that point.  Below are the icons and their meanings.

    marketing implementation

    outreach marketing


    church values
    outreach plan

    Action Step





    church marketing

    church survey

    church vision
    marketing plan evaluation

    of Step


    How Long?


    community survey
    church strategy
    church mission
    community profile
    church goals







    How Your Marketing Plan Process Works?


    Lead Pastor

    • Recruits Marketing Plan Coordinator
    • Recruits Marketing Plan Team.
    • Considers serving as a Marketing Plan Team member, if appropriate.
    • Once YOUR MARKETING PLAN is complete, ensures it is implemented by appropriate staff and laity.

    Marketing Plan Coordinator:

    • Manages the development of YOUR MARKETING PLAN
    • Prepares the marketing plan process timeline and shares with the team.
    • Distributes the following to each Team Member:
      • Sections of YOUR MARKETING PLAN Workbook (introduction, five steps and worksheets) at appropriate stages that each member will fill-in as he/she moves through the process.
      • Works with church administration in advance to gather and distribute congregational reports listed on the Homewok tab) .
      • Customized Church Reports if any.
      • A detailed timeline, mapping out when each step will occur.
    • Serves as a team member, sharing in their homework and coordinating each of the Action Steps.
    • Maintains the master copy of YOUR MARKETING PLAN.

    Marketing Plan Team:

    • Participates in each of the five steps by:
      • Prayerfully considering and completing homework in advance.
      • Carrying out the group excercises (Action Steps).
      • Contributing to the master copy of YOUR MARKETING PLAN.
    The Process of Creating and Executing Your Marketing Plan is:
    • One where every step counts!
      You might be tempted to jump into tactics. Don't! The first half of the process is the most important AND you'll miss out on all the fun. Working through the first steps lays the foundation for YOUR MARKETING PLAN’S messaging, focus, direction and most fruitful opportunities. The exercises are designed for your team to have fun and celebrate your church's impact and to dream about its potential.
    • Comprehensive but realistic.
      This process will help your church leaders create a comprehensive but realistic Marketing Plan. By the time you work through this entire process, you can immediately start implementing the plan and make an impact.
    • Customized to your church.
      Because the process has a highly interactive approach, your team plays the key role in developing the Plan. You learn, discover, assess and plan according to your church's personality, vision and available resources. Therefore, making the Plan completely customized for your church.
    • A church-wide endeavor.
      Your church can contribute toward the process. While some leaders may take on key roles such as coordinating the process, driving deadlines, researching, participating in discussions and working through action steps, there will be many opportunities for others to be involved along the way.
    • Done in the context of day-to-day ministry.
      While some of the exercises ask your team to set aside time for meetings and discussions, we encourage you to glean much of your discovery/planning as you’re doing your day-to-day ministry. This will ensure that creating the plan does not put existing ministry on hold.
    • Not something you read. It's something you do.
      As your team works through the homework, reflects about your church and conducts the action steps, you will grow to understand marketing and its value to your church. We provide many resources and additional reading for you to build on your working knowledge.
    • Measurable.
      church goalsWhen you see the icon to the right, remember to pause, test and measure what you’ve just read and/or discussed. Measuring isn’t something to save until the end of YOUR MARKETING PLAN - this is an evaluate and measure-as-you-go workbook. Remembering the old adage, measure twice, cut once will help you to think through each new area and create healthy marketing details along the way.

    Your Marketing Plan has the following five steps. Each step has its own homework and action steps.

    Step 1 Values & Vision
    Step 2 Perception & Needs
    Step 3: Strategy
    Step 4: Implementation
    Step 5: Evaluation

    Step 1: Values & Vision


    • Values: What you stand for
    • Vision: Where you want to go
    Action Step
    • Values & Vision Retreat
    Marketing Plan Deliverables
    • Core Values Statement
    • Audience Demographics
    • Vision Statement
    • Key Messaging/Elevator Statement

    Begin this process
    return to menu

    Step 2: Perception & Needs



    • Perception: How is your church viewed by members and community
    • Community Needs: Understanding the needs of your neighbors

    Action Steps

    • Congregational Survey Or Team/Committee/Group Interviews
    • Newer Member Focus Groups
    • Community Survey Or Community Leader Interviews and/or Gathring

    Marketing Plan Deliverables

    Marketing Plan Coordinator prepares reports with summaries from all the exercises above and distributes to the Marketing Plan Team for Step 3: Strategy.

    Begin this process
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    Step 3: Strategy



    • S.W.O.T.: Identifying your church’s strengths, weakenesses, opportunities and threatsTarget Audience: Discovering the audience you will reach
    • Strategic Objectives: Deciding where you want to go
    • Goals: Setting measurable targets
    • Resources: Being wise about your assets

    Action Steps

    • Strategy Retreat
      • SWOT Analysis
      • Identify Target Audience
      • Determine Strategic Objectives
      • Determine Goals
      • Analyze/prioritize Resources

    Marketing Plan Deliverables

    From this Retreat, you will come away with Your Marketing Plan STRATEGY, featuring:

    • An analysis of your church's strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats.
    • Target Audience
    • Strategic Objectives
    • Goals
    • Overall Resources

    Begin this process
    return to menu

    Step 4: Implementation



    • Tactics: Setting up your “honey-do” list

    Action Steps

    • Tactics Brainstorming & Prioritizing Session
    • Marketing Plan Development & Review
    • Present to the CongregationMarketing Plan Approval & Implementation

    Marketing Plan Deliverables

    The Marketing Plan Coordinator takes results from these sessions and prepares a chart detailing:

    • Goals/measurable objectives with supporting tactics
    • Timing/deadlines
    • Person/team coordinating
    • Budget information

    Begin this process
    return to menu

    Step 5: Evaluation



    • Ongoing

    Action Steps

    • Ongoing Plan Management
    • Measure progress: Goals/Objectives/Tactics
    • Communicate, Celebrate Success
    • Adjusting your plan

    Begin this process
    return to menu

    outreach marketingWho?
    Marketing Plan Coordinator, working with administrative leaders with access to congregational information.

    outreach planWhat?
    Collect demographic and statistical information about the congregation and the community.

    church marketingHow long will it take?
    This depends on how your church collects and maintains data about the congregation and your access to community demographic data. If you regularly track and enter demographic information, this is simply a matter of pulling a report in five minutes. If this information is not available in a database, you will need to conduct a survey during worship services on two- to three- weekends.

    Prepare the following reports and distribute them, along with YOUR MARKETING PLAN workbooks, to each Marketing Plan Team Member.
    • Congregational Demographic Report

    You can obtain congregational demographic information by:

      • Contacting your lead pastor for official Table 1 & 2 information.
      • Pulling reports from a database your church office might keep
      • Or conduct a brief survey

    Collect the following demographic information about the people who regularly attend your worship services. (In most cases, this is the primary group of people who call your church their church):

      • Age
      • Family/household situation (single, married, children/no children, other household members)
      • Ethnicity
      • Education level
      • Income level
      • Geography (zip code report)
      • Church association (member, participant, newcomer)

    • Congregational Behavior and Response Report

    Gather attendance or response data from the past year's ministry programs and initiatives for all ages. You can get this information rom your church office, conference office, or the Research Office of General Board of Global Ministries.  Include:

      • Attendance at events, programs and classes (Worship, UMW, Bible Studies, Wednesday Night Fellowship etc.).
      • Responses to requests for donations (monetary and goods/services).
      • Responses to requests for volunteers.

    • Community Demographic and Behaviors Reports

    Gather demographic and psychographic (behavior/thoughts) information about your community.

    Contact your Annual Conference or United Methodist Communications to work with you to obtain this information. The information should include:

      • Age
      • Family/household situation (single, married, children/no children, other household members)
      • Ethnicity
      • Education level
      • Income level

    Most of the reports we offer are free, while others are available at a minimum cost. Click here to contact the United Methodist Communications office.

    • Church Budget and Staffing Report

    The overall church budget, with all communications/marketing expenses , as well as individual ministries expenses noted.

    Contact Us

    This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.


    *InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

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