Recently, I received a letter from the owner of Marco’s Pizza in my neighborhood. The big, bold heading screamed, “WE MISS YOU!”
Evidently, the store was tracking my “attendance” and noticed I hadn’t placed an order in weeks. The letter doubled as a “VIP Certificate” — obviously, a marketing tactic to entice repeat visitors.
I’m not crazy for pizza, which makes me a total outcast. According to franchise disclosure documents, Americans eat, on average, 100 acres of pizza daily; that’s 350 slices per second. According to these legal disclosures, 93 percent of Americans eat at least one slice of pizza every month.
Why, then, am I not getting on the pizzawagon?
Actually, I’ve been thinking about doing just that — simply because a pizza chain in my community works hard to earn my business. From the “Welcome Home” postcard we found hanging from our doorknob when we moved into our new home, to the special coupons we get in the mail almost every week, I can tell this franchisee is intentional about making a pizza believer out of me.
What can my church learn from this experience?
If Marco’s Pizza makes every effort to go after the unconverted 7 percent, I’d like to know how serious the churches in my city of Austin are in engaging — brace for it — the 93 percent* of Austin residents that aren’t interested in church, or in religion at all?
A phone call led to a welcome discovery: As of this writing, 180 churches in the greater Austin area are joining forces to raise the city’s spiritual awareness through Explore God (www.exploregod.com), a citywide initiative aimed at helping church leaders train their people to effectively communicate biblical truths to nonbelievers.
“We firmly believe God will work through those conversations to reach the unchurched, but our main objective is to be a catalyst for spiritual conversation,” says Austin Farmer, marketing manager of E3 Foundation, which is spearheading Explore God.
A multimedia marketing campaign will begin in July “to get people thinking (and talking) about the questions we all have about God,” shares Farmer. This includes:
- Massive billboards
- Radio and TV advertising
- Free promotional materials and training resources for participating churches
- A robust online and social media presence
High-quality films and articles are available, free of charge, at exploregod.com.
My church signed up to be a part of this massive campaign. It won’t be easy, as it will force many of us to start spiritual conversations with friends and strangers; but, we want to be counted among those who intentionally pursue the “one that wanders off.”
How about you? I’m excited to hear what your church is doing to reach the skeptics in your own community and shepherd them into becoming dedicated disciples — or, what my pizza store might call “brand evangelists.”
Glad to serve,
Rez Gopez-Sindac, Editor
*According to an Injoy Stewardship blog (November 2012): “21 of the Greatest Leadership Quotes You Will Ever Hear.” (www.injoystewardship.com/21-of-the-greatest-leadership-quotes-you-will-ever-hear)