add-circle-bold add-circle add-square add alarm-bell-1 alert-diamond analytics-pie-2 archive archive arrow-down-1 arrow-down-2 arrow-left-1 arrow-right-1 arrow-up-1 attachment-1 bin-paper-1 book-star button-record check-1 check-circle-1 close close-quote close cog-1 cog common-file-stack copy-paste credit-card-1 diagram-fall-down disable time-clock-midnight download-thick-bottom drawer-send envelope-letter envelope-letter expand-6 expand-6 file-code filter-1 floppy-disk flying-insect-honey folder-file-1 headphones-customer-support hierarchy-9 hyperlink-2 information-circle keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-up layout-module-1 list-bullets lock-2 lock-unlock-1 love-it messages-bubble-square move-to-top multiple-circle multiple-neutral-1 multiple-users-1 navigation-menu-horizontal navigation-menu network-browser open-quote pencil-1 pencil-write pencil-1 print-text rating-star rating-star remove-circle remove-square-1 search send-email-1 shield-warning single-neutral-actions single-neutral smiley-sad-1 smiley-unhappy smiley-indifferent smiley-smile-1_1 smiley-happy smiley-sad-1 smiley-unhappy smiley-indifferent smiley-happy smiley-thrilled social-media-twitter synchronize-arrows-1 tags-double ticket-1 ticket-1 time-clock-circle undo view-1 view-off view wench

How to write Church Marketing Copy

How to Write Church Marketing Copy

Following the Storybrand Framework while maintaining theological rigor

Premise: The problem of church marketing.

Developing marketing collateral (the “who, what, why, and how” that you communicate to the world) is (ought to be) an intense exercise in ecclesiology & missiology. In order to be effective, one must accurately speak to felt needs of the culture, but not offer false gospels (prosperity, therapy, self-help, self-improvement, “a better life”) as the solution to the felt needs.

Without careful study and a deep, historically anchored, theologically rooted understanding of the church’s nature and mission, we will always gravitate toward self-help, or false promises of prosperity (material OR emotional/spiritual). We will offer therapeutic self-improvement answers (“get the healing you need! Get the help you want! Be more! Be better!), or we will promise excitement bordering on titillation (“See how cool we are?!, This will be so fun for you!, our “worship” [cough music…] is awesome!”)

Without careful thought and wise craftsmanship, our other extreme will be to speak the language of the academy, or the jargon of our subculture: “Christianese” that will confuse, rather than clarify what the church is for.

In our theological pride, we can be more concerned about what other churches, pastors, and the theologically elite think about our messaging (Do I say “gospel” and “jesus” enough times?) rather than how we can be clear to outsiders.

The Gospel is not (primarily) about “your best life now” or “living the life you always wanted” or having an “awesome experience” but is more about finding the life you didn’t know you wanted with a solution you didn’t know you needed. “The world” does hate Jesus’s people just as it hated Jesus, but there are still sheep out there to be gathered, and they know their savior’s voice. They won’t know our theological and ecclesial jargon (that is not Jesus’s voice in the first place.) Good news: we can speak with ecclesiological, missiological, and soteriological accuracy, without confusing people! We can make invitations and pique curiosity without offering false promises or having to “out-awesome” the world. There is common language that can be spoken.

“This is how they will know you are my disciples, by your love for one-another.”

The Interpretive Key:

Think in terms of showing the fruit of the Spirit that is evident in your church through imagery and language of hospitality (xenophilos, “love of outsiders”), family, community, joy, and peace. Do not be ashamed that Jesus is the answer, and the gospel is the power of God for salvation.

But we don’t have to use phrases from 16th century catechisms to communicate these things.

If the fruit of the Spirit is not evident in your congregation, and Jesus is not preached from the scriptures with boldness and gentleness as the hero of the story and the ultimate answer to mankind’s deepest longings, then marketing is not your problem, and we can’t help you.

Who is our competition?

Important to understand in your church’s messaging: OTHER CHURCHES ARE NOT YOUR COMPETITION. They are on mission with you, solving the same problem. You are not fighting with them over a scarce resource.

Your competition is THE WORLD’S SYSTEMS: The things that people are looking to, besides Jesus, to meet their needs and overcome their problems.

The way you distinguish yourself from other congregations, to the degree it is relevant, is the particular way your church goes about ministry, the DNA of your church. (Size, personality, location, etc…). You don’t need to advertise these things, these things will come out as you talk about your ministry.

How this impacts website home page content

We follow the Storybrand Framework for writing our marketing collateral and website content. They have hit upon a way of speaking that is creating a fundamental shift in marketing. It is the first system to accurately speak into the information overload age and cut through with clarity. The following is a rough outline of that framework, with some suggested sample content.

Your Target:

Primary: Potential visitors. Open to or curious about the idea of church. (Either already this way, or have met and interacted with a Stonebrook member who has “tilled the soil a bit…)

Secondary: Curios in the community (“what is this “church” thing?”)

Third (and last): Current church members and attenders. Homepage will not be targeted to them except as a portal to the news and sermon sections.

1: The “Grunt Test” Headline

  1. “Aspirational identity” - what they want to become that we can help them with.
  2. Exactly what we offer.

(think: fruit of the spirit, fullness of joy, real life, thriving, understanding identity)



Tagline: Serving the city, in Jesus’s name.

(Navigation:) Home   About-us    Resources   News&Events     What to Expect  VISIT US

(main page panel)

Find deep-rooted joy.

We are a family of families, meeting together to follow Jesus’s example of self-sacrificial love for God, one another, and the world

2: Call to action

  • Primary call-to-action: VISIT US!
  • Secondary call to action: What to Expect

3) The Stakes:

3a) The problem / Failure

What is it going to cost me if I don’t do this? What are the stakes? What will they miss out on? “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and you will find rest for your soul.”

  • Community/Friendship,
  • Loving & Following Jesus,
  • Contributing to the Community,
  • Understanding God’s Word
  • Hope in suffering
  • Strength

3b) Position yourself as the guide

Who cares about them, and has the solution. (Yes, Jesus is the hero and is the one with the solution, but we are the ones pointing them there.)

3c) Success:

What life can look like.

5) The Plan

(what engagement looks like…)

  1. Visit Sunday AM
  2. Join with a Small Group
  3. Grow and Thrive

6) Lead Generation

Some may have this or not. Is there a series or ebook or some content / bribe to give that would indicate “qualified interest” that we could follow up on? Prayer requests? Request pastoral visit?

7) Junk Drawer / Utilities

All the other stuff that usually goes on a site should be vastly deemphasized if it can’t be removed altogether. Think of a pile of links in the footer.