How do people find out about City Coast?
T-shirts. Info cards. QR codes. Signs. A tent. Free stuff. Local podcast. Mom blog. Social media.
The short answer is that people find out about City Coast through a variety of means. Christians talk a lot about outreach and evangelism – the ways in which we develop new connections (outreach) and share the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (evangelism).
Unfortunately, much of today’s outreach and evangelism is simply church marketing.
Almost all of the things mentioned above are marketing tools. The past few weeks have been filled with a variety of opportunities for us to market City Coast to our community.
Some of those opportunities arose because of connections we’ve been developing over our first year. We were able to give away cold brew coffee in a youth soccer program because the owners of the franchise are becoming part of City Coast. We were interviewed for a mom blog because we’ve been involved in a variety of their programs as participants. We’ve seen numerous people interact with our social media after we’ve met them at community events.
When does marketing become evangelism? Is what we’re doing even outreach?
I [Charlie] have come to believe that our marketing efforts are part of our overall outreach strategy, but they are not overt evangelism. These things are like throwing seeds into a hurricane. There is little reason to believe that sponsoring a community event and giving away free stuff while wearing a branded t-shirt alongside a sign with a QR code is going to open the door to talk about Jesus. And yet, not sowing any seed guarantees that none will take root. We have been the only faith community at every event we have attended. Prior to our arrival, we never saw a church represented anywhere in town beyond their own properties and programs.
We are a new faith community. There is no name recognition within our town because we don’t have any local history. We don’t believe our marketing activities are going lead to revival, but we do believe they are building an awareness of our presence. A subtle, gentle, collaborative presence. A presence much like Jesus going to Cana as a wedding guest. Jesus’ first public miracle happened in the margins of someone else’s big event.
Jesus didn’t utilize a marketing strategy, and yet the gospels recount time and again how his fame spread throughout all the region. By subtly working the margins, Jesus went viral. People came to know his name before they came into his presence.
We hope our comprehensive outreach strategy yields the same kind of fruit. We market City Coast so that people can hear the name of Jesus out in the margins. Once the name is on their radar, we’re eager to deepen those connections and share His story.