by Terry Wilhite
Church leaders should take to heart the principles of Ministry Marketing Made Easy (Abington Press, 2004) by Yvon Prehn and put them to use. The results could be far-reaching in the church's efforts to reach and disciple people for Christ. These principles aren't faddish or new twists to old concepts. Neither are they the latest and greatest church growth techniques you hear about at certain new-spin seminars. The points Prehn makes are good, solid communications principles that are straightforward and practical. Many times, people in ministry will overlook the obvious and go searching for the spectacular and as a result their ministries suffer.
Don't let the use of the terms "marketing" and "ministry" in the title bother you. I can assure you Prehn's approach is not a set of business marketing principles reinvented or retooled for the church. The book's definition of ministry marketing is: "everything we do in communications and actions as servants of Jesus to share His story and to invite people to join us in the eternal adventure of living it."
Yvon Prehn is like a modern-day Paul, traveling the world on a missionary-type journey to help church secretaries, staff, and pastors get a handle on how to build ministry relationships with their congregations and local communities. She has a wealth of experience in communications, typography, design, and marketing, and a contagious energy for ministry. You couple these qualities with her heart for people and the result is some exceptional teaching. Those who have had the opportunity to hear her present the principles she's included in the book, as I have, know Yvon Prehn is extremely pointed and frank, but kind and compassionate, too.
"We have to start being honest in the church about what works and about what doesn't work if we are going to market our message effectively. We are losing the hearts and souls of people to every imaginable philosophy and religion, other than a saving trust in Jesus," she says. Prehn points out that this is extremely paradoxical because we, in her words, "have the greatest message, the most powerful tools, well-conceived church growth programs, and extraordinary people working on them." In my opinion, Prehn is on target when she says: "We aren't communicating very well."
Like a courtroom lawyer, Prehn clearly lays out her case for marketing in ministry in the book's first section. Prehn is right when she says, "Until you're willing to discover where you are with all the things you try to do to reach and disciple people-and admit your weaknesses-your ministry will never grow."
Prehn covers the full spectrum of misconceptions we have about presenting our message. She covers the worthy and unworthy reasons why we do what we do, the killer assumptions we make, and provides insights into how to communicate with a twenty-first century audience. That's section one, which includes the first five chapters.
In section two, this veteran communicator defines easy ministry marketing and covers the fact that it is people-centered, pop culture-savvy, precise, and even playful.
In section three, Prehn addresses key ministry marketing publications. She devotes a chapter to cards and postcards, another to the church bulletin and inserts, and one to niche newsletters.
In section four, she masterfully takes her practical strategies down to the implementation phase, showing you in the final four chapters the ways to successfully implement ministry marketing in your own church. Included are: making your efforts persistent and planned, programmed and publicity proactive, pervasive and partnering, and properly equipped and prayer saturated.
Probably some of what she has to say will not comes as news to you, but I guarantee you, much of her advice will bring refreshing approaches to stale or dead communication efforts. This book's message is so vital and urgently needed in order to more effectively reach people in our confusing day and age that I recommend it not only for the pastor, but every teacher and leader in your church-volunteer or full time. At a minimum, the pastor and the person who sends the church letters, and creates the church bulletin and bulletin board flyers need personal copies.
Whether your church is small or large, Prehn's insight and advice can make a profound difference in your ministry. The best buy for this book is $13.60 at www.amazon.com. Not only do I highly recommend her book, but you should check into getting her to come to your church to conduct one of her seminars. Find out more about her ministry at www.mincomresources.com.
Terry Wilhite is a communications and multimedia specialist. He welcomes your article ideas and feedback.
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www.terrywilhite.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.