How Do I Market Men's Ministries to our Men and our Church?
Why is it we want to spend all sorts of time trying to market men’s ministries? I mean, think about it. We have 60 zillion things going on around the church, and most of us are not sitting on cushy jobs with very little to do. So we say to ourselves, “Let’s try to get busier and kick into gear something we have tried to kick into gear every year on the year for the past 20 years… men’s ministries.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe in men’s ministries. That is why I gave three years of my life in full-time ministry to it for the purpose of impacting men.
I want to take some time to examine what works and what doesn’t as relates to men’s ministries and how to market accordingly.
Let me set the record straight. I have a bias. I theorize that your church is way too complicated. While we talk about marketing men’s ministries to the men in your church and community, you likely need to simplify your church.
There is a book out called Simple Church by Thom Rainer. It provides a great concept but is probably a bit unrealistic for most of our established churches. So maybe you cannot be a simple church, but you can become a simpler church.
In years gone by there was an approach to doing church that said, “More is better.” Ninety ministries is better than 80 ministries and 100 is better than 90. I suggest that approach has been the cause of more than one case of pastor or layman burnout. This mentality believes if we have one men’s event each year, then two men’s events must be better and three and four and five…. This is simply not true. More is not better. Better is better, and better can be less.
If better can be less, then how is it that we can communicate the advancement of men’s ministries in our churches. That seems like an oxymoron. How can we market to men and to the church at-large?
It is important to first develop a definition of marketing. Marketing is the whole business of talking to someone else about something you think is either of value or of interest to that person. In sales lingo, it is the business of telling your story to enough people enough times that some of them buy.
If you are going to use that definition to effectively market your men’s ministry, you need to acknowledge the four foundational principles of all ministries.
Four Foundational Principles for All Ministries
- You must have the goods throughout the ministry. I can only trust Campbell’s to have good green beans if they also have good soup. If Applebee’s has crummy service and dirty restrooms in Kansas City, I am less inclined to think of them as a viable option when I am hungry for a lunch salad in Dallas. In the same way, you have to have the goods everywhere throughout the church.
- You must move from an event-driven to process-driven culture. Event upon event upon event wears out everyone, staff and volunteers alike. What happens after a big event? Some bright guy says, “Let’s do it again!” And guess what? You do it again and wear everybody out and get lower attendance. Working a process enriches and refreshes everyone instead of wearing them out.
- You must acquire quick, short-term wins. Everyone wants to hang with a winner. Quick short-term wins can at least create an illusion that you are on the winning path.
- Most importantly, your ministry must get viral. Nothing moves faster than the flu virus. Why? Because it is not incremental in its application. It is exponential. It spreads everywhere without regard for where it lands. Your men’s ministry must have something that spreads as quickly as a flu virus does.
Four Foundational Principles for Men's Ministries:
PRINCIPLE #1 — You must have the goods.
What’s that all about? Have you ever experienced bait and switch in advertising? You know the drill… The advertiser tells a person to come and buy ABC. When the person gets to the store he gets XYZ. That’s bait and switch. That lacks complete integrity.
Unfortunately, the church can be that way. Have you ever heard a pastor say something like, “Come out to this particular service and it will change your life!”? You went to the service and the only thing that was changed about your life is that you lost two hours when it was only supposed to cost you one. And then you were out $20 in the offering to boot.
When men and families come to your church, is it good? I mean really good? I’m not talking about whether it is spiritual. That should be a given. Is it really good in a sense that guests walk away saying, “Besides being deeply spiritual, those folks really do things well.”? If not, it can be.
So what’s your men’s ministry like? Is it same ol’ same ol’? You wish it were different but it’s not. Does it have the goods? There is no need for you to market men’s ministries as the latest and greatest, if everything around it in the church is the oldest and not the greatest. Messy nurseries. Less than spic and span restrooms. Poor preaching. Anything else you can think of?
Let’s start here. “Having the goods” means having the goods everywhere. When a person steps onto your property, is it the best? You say, “Well, that is in the eye of the beholder.” Not so! You need to look at the finest building in your community and work to have yours be as good or better. You say, “No way. We don’t have that kind of money.” Okay, then, is your facility the cleanest and best kept property in town? That is time, not money. That can be done.
What about departments or functions of the church? Are your Music and Children’s ministries the best planned and prepared ministries possible? What about your preaching? You may not be Andy Stanley, Rick Warren or John Lindell in style or delivery, but you can be as studied and as prepared as those guys.
For your men’s ministries, here is how you get the goods.
- Point to mission — Know what you are headed towards and always point that way.
- Plan — Think beyond the present. Set in place a plan of attack to accomplish the mission of the church.
- Prepare — Whatever you do, be fully and completely prepared.
- Perform — Execute. Do what you planned and prepared for and then execute to mission.
Make sure all aspects of having the goods are evident throughout all of the ministries and functions of the church. In short, YOU MUST HAVE THE GOODS! Once you do, you then need to make the tough evaluation of how your ministry is driven. Is it event-driven or process-driven?
PRINCIPLE #2 — Your ministry needs to move from an event-driven to process-driven culture.
Most churches are event-driven. Certainly most men’s ministries are event-driven. Making this shift is a long-haul process. This probably will take months and even years to change in the cultures of many churches.
What is event-driven? Event-driven means that your method of operation starts with an event, then moves to another event, and then another and another and another. There is no process in event-driven cultures. There is no development of discipleship aside from what might by chance happen in an event. When the event is over, there is no process to develop men. The church just jumps to the next event.
If you are going to market event after event after event this way, you will find yourself like a dog constantly chasing its tail. However, if you can change the culture to an understanding that the best ministry to men in the church is ministry by men serving the church, you will be miles ahead.
Market an understanding of process. Preach and teach on it constantly. Then once you establish a process-driven culture, you are then ready to pick up the all-important next principle.
PRINCIPLE #3 — You must acquire quick, short-term wins.
While trying to move men’s ministries in a specific direction, it is critical that the church and the ministry experience quick, short-term wins. What do I mean by that? I am talking about doing something that you are sure will be well-received by men and by the church at-large. You want to demonstrate an ability to win.
Try some non-controversial things to have people see a “Win.” Be sure, however, those “things” do not build long-term obligations until you are sure you want in the long-term whatever you have done in the short-term.
Maybe you do not have any sort of hospitality on the parking lot. Mobilize some “worker bee” guys to greet people as they enter the lot, guide people, help with car doors, etc. Do this for a special month and see how the congregation responds. How about the thoughts of giving a Mother’s Day Month of May parking lot hospitality to the members and friends of the church. I guarantee you they will love it. And the guys who do it will be enriched.
Be sure before you set this one in motion, that you help the parking lot guys see their work as the first impression to a spiritually lost person hearing the Gospel and accepting Jesus. If you make the understanding of why the guys are doing hospitality in this way they will be even more enriched. In turn, you demonstrate process with a direct tie to mission. Then you will need to have the goods all the way through the system as they leave the parking lot and enter the building.
Preach, or encourage your pastor to preach, a series of Biblical messages on servanthood. End the series with men leading the charge to mobilize volunteers in the church: men, women, children, and youth.
Try this one on for size. How about having your men demonstrate their work to the children of the church, kind of like a “Show and Tell”? These jobs must be the type that can be demonstrated. Fireman — Policeman — Construction worker — Banker.
The point here is not to create layers of more ministries. But is to redirect men from “events for men” to “service of men to others.” Once you begin to experience quick, short-term wins you can then be prepared for the most exciting of the four principles.
PRINCIPLE #4 — You must get viral.
What is viral marketing? The best illustration of it is that of a sneeze. When you sneeze, just think of where all that stuff goes. It’s everywhere. It’s kind of like a machine gun approach to marketing. Let it fly and see what kind of hits you get. Then watch it spread.
My wife and I just dropped a bucket-load of money on our first bedroom set in almost 32 years. Pat’s folks gave us hers in 1977. Why did we buy the Temperpedic mattress?
Because Haverty’s and Slumberland had such great promotions going? Because they produced such slick ads? No. Our friends, Ed and Pat, told us they had died and gone to heaven with their new Temperpedic mattress set. So we tried it out and bought it.
We live in a Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, coffee shop world. The other day I had breakfast with a guy who asked me about my running. How’d he know? It turns out he saw that on Facebook. As you can guess I am into networking. He read my stuff. I guess I could assume he would know I’m a runner from my posts but I didn’t think about it. So use these kinds of tools to talk about the process of your men’s ministries.
Men talking to men… I know women are better at this, but men do it, too. They talk. Please be assured, if men have their own version of every other church’s men’s ministry they will not talk. Or certainly will not talk positively. You will get no viral marketing bounce.
However, if men can be part of a men’s ministries effort that is NOT event-driven, it releases more time to the guy. In addition, it is process-driven and will demonstrate itself in the process of serving others. The guys will talk. They will get viral real quick.
Men want to be part of a winner. Men will do viral marketing, spreading the winning news.
Winning processes go viral. Losing ones don’t.
Promise Keepers was the perfect example of viral marketing. How in the world could you take a prayer group in Boulder in the early 90s and turn that into over a million guys in DC in 1997? Certainly it was a God thing. But it became a God thing as God used viral marketing. Stand in the Gap became the culmination of that virus. Now here is where the virus shifted.
Promise Keepers was entirely event-driven. They were never able to successfully develop process in the local church. Although they tried. Hence, they peaked in 1997. The PK leadership tried to deny that it peaked, but it peaked. Then the viral marketing stopped. Momentum was lost and the talk stopped. It wasn’t even bad talk. The talk just stopped. It was over.
Now suppose you do adhere to all four of these principles. You have the goods, your ministry moves from event-driven to process-driven, you gather in quick short-term wins, and you get viral. Now what? Do you do traditional marketing?
There are all sorts of ways to market. Traditional ads, word of mouth, promos here and there, TV and radio ads, newspaper, etc. Where does a person start?
Normally, a ministry or organization gets branded. Certainly you can build a look and feel around your men’s ministries. However, it must merge with that of the church at-large.
You do not have to get branded, but it will happen either by design or by default. I personally like to have some input in the branding of something of value of which I am a part. I do not like important things happening by default.
Some churches will advertise. You can do snail-mailers or e-mailers. You can develop a brochure. You can do radio and/or web advertising.
You can talk publicly from the pulpit. Some might do a calling campaign. You could try putting in place a good promotional campaign, an “Every man bring a man” type of effort.
Keep in mind, however, you can do these and other kinds of things until the cows come home. They are not bad things. But remember, none of these are worth a hoot if you don’t have the goods. Or if you are event-driven and cannot sustain the events. Or if you do sustain it, you go broke. Or if you don’t get any quick, short-term wins, it seems like whatever you do is a loser. Or if no one cares about spreading the word, no one gets viral.
Now with that said relative to traditional marketing, let’s talk about another, and I think better, concept for marketing men’s ministries. Let’s call them Four Keys to Successful Marketing of Men’s Ministries.
Four Keys to Successful Marketing of Men's Ministries
#1 Key to Successful Marketing of Men’s Ministries
You must understand and regularly articulate your mission. If your mission is Biblical, it will be pointed to reaching lost people. It will be outward-focused.
If your mission is not outward-focused, you can stop reading and go do something else. We have no other reason to exist than to reach lost people. It must be focused on two groups of people, lost men and new men to the Body. It is the leader’s responsibility to preach and teach a culture focused on mission.
#2 Key to Successful Marketing of Men’s Ministries
Then you need to put a process in place where men want to talk and grow with other men. Design systems where men can connect with other men to serve. This plays perfectly into the strength of men in “doing” things together.
Most guys have to work hard to sit around a circle and share feelings and emotions. But they love to swing a hammer or play ball together. Could they serve children together? Could they “do” for youth or for women? Preach and teach this throughout your ministry.
#3 Key to Successful Marketing of Men’s Ministries
Do events consistent with process.
“OH MY GOODNESS!!! Did he actually write that??? Do events?”
Relax! Do not get worked up. I have not slipped a cog. I am consistent. Events have their place. The trick is to not be event-DRIVEN! Said another way, do not let your event DRIVE your process. It is the other way around. Your process drives the event.
Maybe you do a quarterly men’s breakfast or some once-a-year event. No problem. It just can’t drive the ministry. It can’t be the centerpiece. Every event you do must focus back to mission and be a part of your process.
Here is a determining question for you to ask with virtually every ministry in the church.
Could I close down this ministry if I determined it no longer drove to mission and if it was no longer an effective piece of process?
If you answer “yes,” then you are process-driven. You can be confident the saints understand things need to change in order to point to mission. If you answer “no,” then you are event-driven. You can be just as confident the saints do not understand things need to change to point to mission. These poor folks want their events because they have always had their events, not because the event drives to mission. You have work to do in changing understanding and culture.
#4 Key to Successful Marketing of Men’s Ministries
Maintain proper expectations. Understand the time it takes to make an impact. Marketing is long-term. I once did a TV ad campaign at a church I served. I was told if I was not going to spend a minimum of $10,000 over 7 months I was throwing my money down the drain. We did $24,000 and it was a great success. Then we continued it year after year for over 10 years. It takes time.
So there you have it. When you do these things you are well on your way to marketing your ministry to men.
If you really want to have effective ministry to men and communicate that to your church, you need to turn the culture of expectations away from “ministry for men” to one of “ministry by men to the church.” Otherwise, you will keep beating the dead horse of trying to revive men’s ministries like you have the past 20 years.
When you develop ministry by men to the church you will see growth come to the church because you have male influence permeating all aspects of the church. Men ministering to 4 year olds, 3rd graders, 8th and 11th graders, and college students will revolutionize the way those groups see God. Men ministering to women…now there’s a novel thought. It does not get much better than that!
If you want to market your men’s ministries, you need to give close attention to the four initial principles.
- Have the goods.
- Move from event-driven to process-driven.
- Acquire quick, short-terms wins.
- Get viral.
Then remember the Four Keys to Successful Marketing of Men’s Ministries.
- Understand and regularly communicate your mission.
- Put a process in place where men want to talk and grow with other men.
- Do events consistent with process.
- Maintain proper expectations.
When you do these things, the guys in your purview of influence will sing your praises and the Lord’s as well.
Be focused on the mission of the church. Your mission is not to have more men’s breakfasts, quarterly blowouts, or camping/sports outings. Those are all good things. But do they drive to mission? Some do. A lot do not. Your mission is to lead people to Jesus and to disciple them in the faith.
We should be marketing to men the message of Jesus like no other. Sales professionals should pale in comparison to us and our efforts to spread the Gospel. Most of the time that doesn’t happen. Most of us are afraid of the word “sales” so we avoid even the mention of it. Let me tell you something. I have to burst your bubble of understanding. Nothing happens until someone sells something. Think about it. Nothing!
Do you want to market men’s ministry? Do you want to be part of marketing something that drives to the very heart of God? If you truly want life-changing ministry TO men, you must have life-changing ministry BY men to the church. Anything less is simply business as usual.
As we noted earlier, every church has men’s ministries. Some good, some not. Why not be the church that says we are going to change culture and begin to see our men serve, becoming the primary volunteer force in our church or district. Do that and guess what? God smiles and everyone wins.