XX days till Easter! Have you ordered your FREE tickets yet?
A church pimping tickets for its Easter service?! They did the same thing at Christmastime, too.
In the interest of full disclosure, the church makes it clear that the tickets are free, and a couple of friends have told me that the tickets are just for number-planning purposes. I’ve been assured they won’t turn anyone away.
It still doesn’t feel right to me.
From a marketing perspective, I get it. Issuing tickets combines implications of limited time and limited supply to create a sense of urgency. It can be an effective tool to make people want to jump in and commit right away.
But this is church. Church.
And while I’ll be the first to admit that my faith is pretty lapsed right now, this isn’t right. The mission of the (Christian) church is to save the lost. Tickets are for people who already want to be there, not those who may be inclined to slip in unnoticed to see what they can find to help with their struggles. Or people with questions they don’t know how to ask. Or people looking to make some kind of change. Generally those people are much more tentative, and tickets make it a BIG DEAL.
I’m told that this church won’t turn anyone away who doesn’t have a ticket, but I’ll wager that people who are not in-the-know will assume otherwise. If you were driving by a church that had “Call 555-1212 to get tickets to our Easter service!” what would you think? And if you decided on Easter Sunday to find a service–as many people do–I’ll bet you don’t land at that church. You’ll probably assume it’s too late because you didn’t call ahead. I know I would.
What about the argument that issuing tickets is for number-planning purposes only? My response has four letters: WWJD? For those of you familiar with the New Testament–the foundation of the Christian church, like the one I’m addressing here–think of the loaves and fishes story. There’s a clear answer to WWJD: he’d preach away and let the crowd gather, the bigger the better. Everything else eventually took care of itself.
You can tell me all you want that the come-as-you-are approach is not realistic, but remember, the church embraces the NT as fact. It is supposed to base its teachings AND actions on it.
I’m not inviting religious debate here. I’ll have whatever discussion you want in private, but not here. My point, as always, is that WORDS MATTER. The words “get your tickets” are a communications snafu for a church.
Sure, they create a sense of urgency to commit to the Easter service, but only for those already planning to attend. For everyone else, they create a barrier. They’re off-putting.
Believe it or not, I think more churches should apply marketing principles to their outreach efforts; there are so many ways to generate interest. But the right tactic has to be selected for each effort, whether you run a church, a business, a school, a club, or anything else.
Unfortunately, that church laid an egg on this one.