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Jul 07

Is Marketing Evil?

Jul 07
Jul 07

I recently attended a few conferences in which significant church leaders berated the concept of church marketing and defamed it as pure evil. I sat there stunned as I had significant respect for these guys. What puzzled me the most is that both of these men of God had great PowerPoint slides. They had sharp websites. Their books were published by giant companies that spent thousands on book cover design, not to mention the PR campaigns and the magazine ads that I witnessed--even the churches they pastored had websites, brochures, logos and a receptionist that answered the phone--yet they stood and denounced "marketing". I sat there more than a little puzzled, simply unable to reason how if marketing was "so evil", it could be apart of everything they were doing.

I pondered. These guys are not bogus. They were the real deal. What I think they were trying to say was really a legitimate issue. They were trying to get at the heart--but I think they might have inadvertently sent much of the crowd away feeling that any effort to reach people for God is impure. It need not be.

Allow me to clarify... Has anyone ever told you that "money is the root of all evil?" They were wrong. It sounds very close to scripture, but it is not scripture. 1 Tim 6:10 tells us that "The love of money is the root of all evil." Get that? "The love of..." is the root. Guess where the root lies? In the heart. You see, money is not evil. Money can be used to spread the Gospel, feed the homeless, and pay the electricity at the church. It is not the use of money that makes it evil, it is the motive behind the money that matters. Money becomes evil when our affections turn toward it and our motives sour--when our hearts are not in check.

So does marketing. Marketing is a matter of the heart. Does God want us to represent Him well--certainly! Does He need us to communicate to reach people with His love right where they live? Of course. Does He want us to manipulate to get there? Does He want us to relentlessly pursue bigger numbers just so we can stroke our egos? How about to ensure that the church down the street does not get larger than ours? No, no and more no. Just like in the analogy above, marketing is the "currency" of communication. To use it is not wrong--to be honest--if it really was, these guys were the biggest hypocrites around. They were not, they just made the mistake of calling out the method instead of the motive. Marketing is not evil, but the motive behind it can be.

That being said, check your motive. Why do you desire to grow your church? Is it really for the love of the lost? Have you laid your life down before Christ and said, "I will do anything you ask, even if I never have a mega-church?" Your worth is not in how many people attend your church. If you are marketing out of the wrong motive, you are in error. May the root of marketing never be about us, but may we use smart communication wisely to capture the eyes and attention of a world that looks on the outside, while God looks on our hearts (1 Sam 16:7).


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Scott Gould

Hi Richard,

Good article. Like you say, marketing is the currency of communication. It is the representation of thoughts and ideas. In fact 'marketing', as in, appealing to the market, is making something relevant to audience.

So of course we recognise that this in and of itself is not evil. Jesus was 'the expressed will of the Father' Heb 1:3 - the brand of Heaven, as it were. 'The Word became flesh' it became relevant and tangible.

I have always struggled with understanding this, yet realizing that it is the anointing that draws people and we must not present the flesh as a lure.

So to read your explanation of this encourages me greatly and helps me understand and express what I have felt for years.

Posted on Wed, Jul 8, 2009 @ 12:25 PM CST

Simon Steele

Good blog,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Posted on Wed, Jul 8, 2009 @ 5:33 PM CST

Shane Hatton

Hey Richard..this post is fantastic! I was beginning to worry that if marketing is the root of all evil.. what does that make me as a marketer??

Your insight that everything we do speaks, and that we are all marketing whether we chose to or not has really helped me to explain in more clarity when situations like this arise.

Keep them coming, they are tops!

Posted on Thu, Jul 9, 2009 @ 6:42 PM CST

Adam Weitz

This was an awesome post. Right when I was thinking "This sounds like the same misconception that money is evil", there you were with the next paragraph stating just that.

Calling a Marketer evil is like calling a Banker evil if you misunderstand 1 Tim 6:10.

Marketing is a tool. How you use that tool is on you - not the medium itself.

Posted on Fri, Jul 10, 2009 @ 1:20 AM CST


I agree with you all the way. I just wanted to point out that there is one misquote in your blog. Not sure if you are open to constructive criticism or not. Anyway, 1 Ti. 6:10 actually says that the love of money is the root of "all sorts" of evil. So money is not the root of "all" evil, but the "love of money is the root of all sorts of evil." I just wanted to clarify that.

Posted on Mon, Jul 13, 2009 @ 12:01 PM CST

Lead like Jesus

Just wanted to leave some marketing in my name. :-)

I was struggling with that a few months ago because it seems like everything is marketed so heavily in our culture. I think I came to the conclusion that the issue is not the marketing (usually as long as it is done ethically and well) but the product behind the marketing.

I am youth pastor and I have found that the times when I don't market events well I have far less kids show up. One time I even did the markdown on an event and instead of our normal $75 for a weekend retreat we charged $47. I heard one kid say. "Wow only $47. I don't even know what it is but I am going."

Pretty funny to have people who have professional marketing done for them denouncing it.


Posted on Mon, Jul 13, 2009 @ 8:51 PM CST


Well said.

Posted on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 @ 11:31 AM CST

Mark Andrew Pope

What a great thought - "marketing is the 'currency' of communication". Great analogy - good thoughts! I've always had a hard time with "marketing" myself - because I've seen it used for "evil" instead of "good". Marketing designed to just push numbers instead of start conversations...

Anywhoozle - I enjoy the blog!!

Posted on Thu, Jul 16, 2009 @ 2:01 AM CST

Daniel Roberts

Everything is marketed. Whether you do it or society does it for you. Every time someone mentions your name, in essence, they are marketing you. Which brings us to the real question. "Are you going to be intentional about it?"

Good post. I wonder how much less of an issue it would be if more of it was done well, and less was done like your starbucks video.

Posted on Mon, Jul 20, 2009 @ 2:35 AM CST

Richard H

Reminds me of Tertullian opposing Athens & Jerusalem, siding with the latter, supposedly against philosophy. He used the rational and rhetorical tools of Athens to make his case, however.

Posted on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 @ 9:03 PM CST

Jeffry S

It is all marketing. Inviting someone to come to church with you, is marketing. Our buildings are marketing. Our music is marketing. Our bulletins are marketing. Our signs outside the buildings are marketing. Listing in the phone book is marketing. Having a website is marketing. Putting service times in the newspaper is marketing. Turning into the parking lot for service is marketing.

The criticism is PROOF POSITIVE that you will face opposition no matter what you do!

If you are wealthy, you're a crook.
If you are poor, you're a bum.

If you have hobbies, you're rich enough to afford it and selfish.
If you don't have hobbies, then you're lazy and killing yourself by inactivity.

If you're fat, you're a glutton and endangering your life.
If you lose weight, you're not eating right and endangering your life.

We really need to get over the criticisms and serve others!

There will ALWAYS be "cheap shots from the peanut gallery" to contend with.

Posted on Sat, Aug 8, 2009 @ 8:01 PM CST


hi, i really like your blog. it gives new perspective to church planting and really being a salt and light to today's generation. marketing is a good tool to reach people. as paul said, we should be all things to all man, so that somehow some will be saved. keep up the good work!

Posted on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 @ 11:10 AM CST


Good post--thanks!

As you say, the heart attitude is so important....

We are not here to dress Jesus up in Gucci and Christmas lights to make Him look attractive to the world. We are here to show the world JESUS Himself--Who He Is. In that respect, we most certainly are not "marketing Jesus." Who He is is so beautiful--to dress Him up as anything else is to cheapen Him. Why would you put marqui lights around the Mona Lisa?

However, if we are adequately and accurately representing our Savior, what we do should be marked by excellence--excellence in presentation, excellence in appearance; things we associate with marketing, that naturally draw people.

So, no, in the right attitude, marketing is not the root of all evil. But the aim of that marketing, as I think you are saying, is to show the "Product" Himself--show who Jesus really is.

Posted on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 @ 8:39 PM CST


Great article! I'm in faith-based marketing consultancy as well and one of the most difficult challenges is to get church leaders to see that it's not a question of, "if they are marketing their churches", it's "how well they are marketing their churches". Keep teaching, you've inspired me to keep writing. Feel free to check out my article at your convenience at www.visionpromarketing.com/blog

Posted on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 @ 1:44 PM CST

Ron Jones

I know I'm late on this coversation but this is a great article!! We as Christians have to remember that Jesus taught us to be fishers of men...but if you don't have the right bait we'll be the fishers of none. Great insight! Thanks you!

Posted on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 @ 5:22 PM CST

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