From a book on Strategy, but advice that should always characterize us as church communicators:
We serve a holy God.
There is a tendency today for some in church communications circles to use shocking, profane, flippant language or advertising with the rationale of making the church appeal to the unchurched, or to make their communications appear edgy, professional, and contemporary.
This is wrong. Categorically, totally, completely, wrong.
As Jesus' ambassadors and representatives our words and lives are not to reflect the tone and words of our world, but to reflect his character and holiness.
"Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. . . . Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. . . . . Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malic"(Eph. 4:1; 25-31).
"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Col. 4: 6).
Graceful, worthy words, no corrupt communication, are just a few of the many, many worthwhile terms that should characterize our communications. As obvious as these passages seem, their message of holy, worthy words is not universally accepted in all circles of church communications today.
Some believe that it is OK, in the interests of sharing the messages of the church, to use language that shocks, offends, or frustrates. In addition to language that would have caused my mother to wash my mouth out with soap, some of this persuasion believe sexually suggestive images on billboards and sermon topics will get people to church—where of course then a proper biblical message will be preached.
This is an unbiblical and unworthy approach.
There is much that can be said about this, but as politically incorrect, old-fashioned, or out-of-it, as it may seem today, our communications need to reflect holiness and a holy God. Jesus somehow mastered the ability to be totally relevant and yet completely without sin. Perhaps if we study him more, rather than aping what appears to work in secular marketing, we might become better at relevance without irreverence.
One fallout of the trend to use secular marketing techniques indiscriminately has been that pastors who care about the biblical foundation of the church and a current number of books being written to call churches back to that foundation have strongly attacked marketing in the church as one of the causes of current moral decline and a host of other problems in the church. Though I greatly respect the men who have written these books and find much in them helpful, this labeling of "marketing" as evil is unfortunate because it robs the church of a valuable tool if used properly.
Marketing is simply a tool; just as preaching is a tool. Preaching can be used to proclaim either a heretical, foolish, soul-destroying message or to share the words of eternal life. Marketing can be manipulative, false, and self-indulgent or it can be a servant communication that honestly, clearly, and consistently leads people to the church and the Savior. Don't discard tool—but use it properly and in a Christ-honoring way.
From our book on Strategy, it is currently being updated. CLICK HERE to sign up for our newsletter so you will be notified when it comes out.