Have you spent much time thinking about who you want to reach in your ministry?
The funny thing is, ministers often overlook this basic question. But the more you clarify who your ministry�s audience is, the better you’ll be able to meet their needs.
A target audience is your focal group, the people to whom you’re going to communicate and on whom focus your attention. In ministry marketing, if you don�t focus, you won�t be able to communicate effectively with anyone. We know the gospel is for everyone, yet not everyone hears the same message in the same way others do. Not everyone listens to the same radio stations, reads the same newspapers, and watches the same shows on TV. If you’re going to use advertising, you’ll have to have a clear understanding of your audience to know what media reaches people best.
Ministers sometimes worry that choosing a target audience will somehow mean they will leave out some people who need the gospel. Actually, since a single church can�t minister to all the needs of all people in a community, choosing a target audience will make your church better able to meet specific needs of people better. It’s OK to match your gifts and calling to the specific people God wants your church to reach if you keep a Kingdom mentality.
Your church can play a larger role in the Kingdom of Heaven by helping others reach people in other target audiences. You can be a part of planting new churches and supporting ministries that reach other groups better. A typical example of this is when English-speaking churches help support churches who speak another language. In your evangelism outreach strategy, identify all the people in your community, plan to reach out to the ones you are best equipped to reach, and be a part of the solution of getting the gospel to the focus groups you can�t reach effectively. That is truly a Kingdom mentality!
Jesus had a Kingdom mentality, yet He used communication targeting. Jesus didn�t say the same exact things to the Samaritan Woman (John 4:7-45), that He said to the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-31) or Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). In each case, His presentation and approach was different, though His basic gospel message was the same. What made Jesus change His presentation and approach to these people? Each was a difference person, with a separate set of needs. In communication terms, each was a difference target audience.
In the same way, if you want to be effective, your ministry needs to understand how to target your outreach communication like Jesus did. Even the best outreach effort won�t go anywhere if the organization doesn�t know to whom they are talking, or whom they want to reach. You need a target.
The greatest problems experienced by churches doing ministry marketing happen when they don�t select a target audience. For example, when they advertise, you can see it in the language they use, they use churchy terms and expressions even when talking to the general public�– those who don’t understand the lingo are left out and therefore miss the important message of the gospel.
Having a target audience will help you learn more about the people you want to reach, and will help you understand them better and communicate to them more effectively. Effective communication begins when you know to whom you are speaking. Just as a missionary begins working in a new mission field with learning, you must design your ministry communication the same way.
Sit down with the other leaders of your ministry and identify who it is specifically you are trying to reach. Who is your target audience? Write down characteristics, demographics. Learn as many things as you can about them. When you�ve done this you�ll have a better chance of crafting a message that will meet and suit their needs.
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Chris Forbes is the marketing evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Articles are adapted from the free e-book, 25 Free Marketing Tools You Can Use Right Now, available for download on MinistryMarketingCoach.com.
Copyright �2005 Chris Forbes, Ministry Marketing Coach. All rights reserved.