The Role Marketing Plays in Church Growth with Kelvin Co

Modern Church Leader feat. Kelvin Co
 The Role Marketing Plays in Church Growth feat. Kelvin Co on Modern Church Leader

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The Role Marketing Plays in Church Growth

Church marketing can be a tricky thing. It's easy to cross the line from effective promotion to cheesy pandering. But when done well, church marketing can play a powerful role in attracting new worshippers and growing the congregation. 

It's no secret that for churches to grow in an increasingly competitive and secular society, they need to do more than just keep a good Sunday morning service. They need to think outside of the box and find a way to get the word out about their church in a way that catches the attention of today's seekers. 

There are many different aspects of church marketing, from advertising and public relations to social media and website design. Whatever tactics are employed, what matters most is that the church's promotional efforts are genuine and impactful.

The challenge for church leaders is to find the correct balance between using church marketing to create this meaningful relationship and the appropriate cost and time commitment required to achieve this. 

Remember that church marketing isn’t only about getting people to attend services. It’s also about developing relationships with them and building a community—this is the true purpose of church marketing. 

In this episode, we sit down with the Director of Communication and Strategy of Ready Set Grow, Pastor Kelvin Co. He will discuss how relationship building is a key component in church marketing and how it relates to any church's overall mission and purpose.

“All of these communication, technology, production tools are all simply vehicles to accomplish one thing only. Pastors are called to shepherd a community. A pastor is called to a community, and all of these tools are simply to facilitate that shepherding relationship.”
-Kelvin Co

Pastor Kelvin Co worked with Pastor Scott at the Oaks for 16 years as the Executive Creative Arts Pastor before joining him at Ready Set Grow and 415 Leaders as the Director of Communication and Strategy. He’s been involved in various aspects of creative media, including live stage production, TV, radio, marketing, donor development, web strategy, social media, etc., since 1987.

Hopefully, you will walk away with some ideas for your church and a fresh perspective on church marketing. 

By the end of this episode, you will learn:

  • Church marketing strategies to help grow your church
  • How your church can benefit from digital marketing 
  • How relationship strengthens church marketing
  • How to keep millennials engaged in church
  • Essential church media trends
  • And so much more…

Resources Mentioned:

Know more about the Ready Set Grow  Inner Circle program: The Ready Set Grow Inner Circle
Try out the RSG University 30-day free trial: RSG University

Other Episodes You May be Interested In:

How the Right Marketing Can Enhance Discipleship
How to Market Your Small Church: A 9-Part System for Every Pastor
The Future of Church Growth is Changing Fast—If You Blink, You'll Go Extinct

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[8:54] All of those tools that I mentioned, including marketing, are simply vessels, conduits, to help facilitate the relationship between the pastor and the sheep that God has called them to pastor.

[10:26] If I need to think about how to promote the church, I always go back to the pastor - what is God speaking to you for this church? Because what God is speaking to you for this church is what God is speaking to you for this community.

[14:49] The main product that we're marketing, using business terms, is the relationship between the pastor and a congregation member.

[16:24] That message, once it's preached, there's so many, not just marketing, but the value add life-changing, potentially life-saving and prophetic content that can literally minister to someone's life and potentially define their eternity.

[22:26] A  pastor responded to the calling to pastor a church because they have a missional heart and a missional calling.

[33:35] Brick and mortar church is not just here to stay but foundational because we are social people.

[35:13]  Know your congregation persona. Know your target audience. It doesn't have to be a crazy demographic research study; just look at your congregation. Define who that person is, then create a sponsored ad on Facebook or something targeting that profile. 

podcast transcript

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Kelvin Co (00:00):

If I need to think about how to promote the church, I always go back to, pastor, what is God speaking to you for this church? Because what God is speaking to you for this church is what God is speaking to you for this community.

Narrator (00:23):

Welcome to the Modern Church Leader, where you'll hear executive pastors share practical tactics and strategies that churches are using right now to thrive in our digital world and advance the kingdom of God. Here's your host, Frank Barry.

Frank Barry (00:37):

Hey, guys. It's Frank from Tithe.ly with another episode of Modern Church Leader. Great to be here today. Super excited actually, to talk about church marketing and church communications with a gentleman who's been at it for a long time. I'm joined by Kelvin Co. Kelvin, how's it going today?

Kelvin Co (00:54):

It's going great. Thank you for having me on. It's an honor.

Frank Barry (00:56):

Yeah, it's good to have you on. I do a lot of these, and actually, your scene is pretty awesome. So, well done on the setup over there.

Kelvin Co (01:09):

Oh, thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah, this is the studio where we do Zoom's courses, so I'm like, yeah, let me take advantage of it.

Frank Barry (01:18):

Yeah, use it. It's perfect. It's perfect.

Kelvin Co (01:21):

Thank you.

Frank Barry (01:21):

Well, Kelvin, you're working currently at a place called Ready Set Grow.

Kelvin Co (01:27):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Frank Barry (01:28):

And so, I want to dig into that a little bit. But I'd love to start with, just tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and ministry and types of roles you've served in over the years and how you got to Ready Set Grow.

Kelvin Co (01:41):

Oh, yeah. Thank you. Well, first of all, I just want to say, man, I have the deepest respect for you guys. Tithe.ly is a company, is a business, right? But it is a kingdom-hearted business. And sure, your clientele, your product is about serving churches with the product that they need, right? An electronic way, a digital way for people to give their offering.

Kelvin Co (02:11):

But like this podcast, which represents you guys' heart, it's about adding value. As a customer of Tithe.ly back when I was with the Oaks, it's like what we felt from you guys isn't just a business transaction, but it's always about how can you add value to us?

Kelvin Co (02:31):

In secular terms, that's just called customer service. But what stands out to us is, no. It's how can you add value to us to come alongside of us to advance the great commission?

Frank Barry (02:42):

Yeah.

Kelvin Co (02:42):

And that is just how kingdom entrepreneurs should be. And I just wanted to start out by saying amazing. Deep respect, mad respects. And even this podcast, Modern Church Leaders, do you need to do this? I don't know. Probably not, but no, you chose to allocate your most valuable resource, which is, Frank, your time and your team's time and resources to continue to add value to the kingdom. So, I just wanted to start by giving honor where honor is due.

Frank Barry (03:18):

Amen.

Kelvin Co (03:18):

Especially what you guys do and the heart behind it, in my opinion, is rare. Right?

Frank Barry (03:23):

Yeah.

Kelvin Co (03:24):

And then now. To answer your question-

Frank Barry (03:26):

Well, I appreciate that.

Kelvin Co (03:27):

Oh, you're welcome.

Frank Barry (03:27):

And let me just say that the whole company, right? It's myself, but it's 200 employees that love serving the church and wake up every day pretty excited about what they're doing. So we, even as a company, feel honored by all the people that we have here that really are passionate about serving churches. And it's core to who we are. I love feedback, right? I love hearing unsolicited third party feedback on what's going on and its representative of all the employees here. So, really appreciate that.

Kelvin Co (03:58):

Well, share that to the 200 staff members there. They deserve to hear it.

Frank Barry (04:04):

Yeah. Amen. Will do.

Kelvin Co (04:05):

So, a little bit about myself. Well, let's start with the most important. I've been a Christ follower since 1991. I've been married for 25 years.

Frank Barry (04:15):

Nice.

Kelvin Co (04:16):

My wife, Lucy, and I have a 19-year-old son. We're grateful that he loves the Lord. He attends Oral Roberts University and he's part of ORU Worship. So, he's using his passion, his gifts, his talents as a musician to serve the kingdom. That's what he did when he was here at the church and he continues to do that. And we're excited about that.

Kelvin Co (04:41):

And then I've had the privilege of being in full-time ministry for the last 27 years. So, started as a media pastor at a church in the Philippines where I was born and raised. And then for six years, at Christ Church with Dr. David Ireland, where I was the executive director of media over there, where I oversaw live service production, creative arts, as well as lead the production of the TV and radio program of Dr. Ireland and the donor development component of that.

Kelvin Co (05:25):

And then for the last 16 years, I had the privilege of serving as the executive pastor of creative arts at Oaks Church. And then my current role, I've been here now for a year, is working with Ready Set Grow. We are a coaching and consulting company that provides coaching and consulting to churches.

Kelvin Co (05:53):

I work with Scott Wilson, for those of you who know him. He basically has 30 plus years of ministry experience, leadership, has written lots of books because lots of pastors approach him about, "Hey, can you help me with this? Can you coach me with this and all of that." And he responded to God's call to share his gift, his apostolic gifts.

Kelvin Co (06:21):

Him and I know each other very well, so I now serve in this company as the director of communication and strategy. So yeah, tightly, I get to experience the joy now of advancing the kingdom by serving the lead pastors, the pastors, the leaders in those churches to hopefully have exponential multiplication impact the kingdom.

Frank Barry (06:49):

Yeah. Yeah. And it's new, right? You guys have been at it for-

Kelvin Co (06:53):

For a year.

Frank Barry (06:53):

... a year or so.

Kelvin Co (06:54):

Yeah. For a year.

Frank Barry (06:56):

Yeah.

Kelvin Co (06:56):

Yeah. Launching a company in the middle of COVID. That was a big faith step, but here we are.

Frank Barry (07:06):

Yeah. Yeah. Because you and Scott were at the Oaks. Scott was the lead pastor or senior pastor at the Oaks for a long time. I don't know how many years, but for-

Kelvin Co (07:13):

A long time. Yes.

Frank Barry (07:14):

... a long time he was there.

Kelvin Co (07:16):

Yep.

Frank Barry (07:16):

So you guys have a long history and are taking all that experience. I've had the opportunity to golf with Scott a few times. So, it's been fun getting to know him and excited to get to know you on this podcast.

Kelvin Co (07:30):

Yeah. I'm excited. Thank you.

Frank Barry (07:31):

Now, I love that you... I mean, so you oversaw a lot of different things over the years. Part of those things in your role was the actual marketing and communication at churches.

Kelvin Co (07:45):

Yes.

Frank Barry (07:45):

So, I'd love to dig into that a little bit. Maybe give us your, I just don't think... At bigger churches, I think there's an understanding of marketing communication and maybe an acceptance and an eagerness to do it well. At smaller churches, you don't have a marketing person, you don't have a communications person, you may not even think that marketing and communications is a thing that we should be doing as a church. Your mental model of church just doesn't have that in it. You know what I'm saying? But it's actually really important.

Kelvin Co (08:20):

Yes, it is.

Frank Barry (08:21):

So, I would just love your take. How do you think churches should be thinking about marketing and communication in the church context?

Kelvin Co (08:32):

Yeah. I'll start with my anchor. Right? My foundational principle anchor behind the whole bucket called creative arts, which includes marketing. All of those things are anchored to one principle. All of these communication technology production tools are all simply vehicles to accomplish one thing and one thing only. Pastors are called to shepherd a community. Right? All of those tools that I mentioned, including marketing, are simply vessels, conduits to help facilitate the relationship between the pastor and the sheep that God has called them to pastor.

Kelvin Co (09:29):

Technology evolves, and changes, and advances, marketing principles. Before it was flyers, tracks, newspaper advertising, now there's social media and TikTok and all [inaudible 00:09:42]. The principle is the same. A pastor is called to a community and all of these tools are simply to facilitate that shepherding relationship, right? It's just a shepherding relationship.

Kelvin Co (09:59):

In practical terms, what does that translate to? A pastor's job, when called to pastor a people, is to seek the Lord. Lord, what is your message to these people? We tend to limit that to simply be, what is the message to be preached on a Sunday to the people who are coming to church, nowadays, who would watch online?

Kelvin Co (10:23):

My heart behind that is, if I need to think about how to promote the church, I always go back to, pastor, what is God speaking to you for this church? Because what God is speaking to you for this church is what God is speaking to you for this community. Then similar to creating graphics for a series or a video to support a message, the marketing plan, the marketing strategy, is simply taking that message.

Kelvin Co (11:03):

Let's say, for example, a pastor may be crying out to the Lord and God reveals to him a pain that the community is experiencing. Maybe it's the pain of unforgiveness or divorce that's pressing in most marriages in the community. All right. Well, you know what? We are going to take the gospel message of healing, what God says about marriage, the way families can experience healing and package that as the marketing message to serve the people, because that's what they would respond to. Right?

Frank Barry (11:43):

Right.

Kelvin Co (11:43):

So, whether it's a social media campaign, or an email campaign, or Facebook ads, the principle, in my opinion, does not change. I'm simply trying to get what God has put in a pastor's heart and connect it to the people that he's called to serve. And the holy spirit can do the work and move people's heart to respond to that and go, "Oh, that was what I needed. Oh, wait, that touches the pain I'm feeling. Let me go check out this church or the message this Sunday or this series or this event."

Frank Barry (12:22):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I love that. Because I guess it all does come down to that. I think most churches and most pastors think that the way that happens is Sunday morning, 10:00 AM, in the building with my 150 members. Right? And they may not call that marketing and communications, whatever. I mean, it is communicating fundamentally.

Kelvin Co (12:53):

Yes.

Frank Barry (12:54):

But it's like that's the format and that's the, whatever you want to call it. The structure or the format, the tradition of church, right? Sunday morning, 10:00. We have church. You're in the building. You get the message from the pastor and then you hopefully go out and live it out during the week. Maybe you have a Wednesday night, then you're back on Sunday kind of thing.

Kelvin Co (13:17):

Yeah. And that thinking is not wrong. In fact, I would say that thinking is solid. That's a foundational block and it's now building off of that block. Remove all of the bells and whistles that we have now with social media and all of that, well, what did people do and what do people still do?

Kelvin Co (13:39):

You have a good experience? When are you going to talk about it. Right? I heard a great message. Oh, oh, this, this. I had this problem and this problem got fixed because of this class that I had attended at church or this message I heard at church or Bible reading helped improve my quality of life or whatever that may be similar to, I went to watch a good movie and I tell my friends about it. It's just, there are now so many ways to tell it, right?

Kelvin Co (14:11):

Now, the good news is, with all of these cool tools and toys that have, we can simulate those conversations. So, one of the ways I always tell my team, or even with consultants that I work with, my philosophy is how can we simulate that relationship with this tweet, with this IG post, with this email, with this invite card, with this ad, with this 10 second video? Because essentially, it's a sampling of the product. And pardon me for saying that, for using that term. I don't mean to belittle or cheapen it, but that main product that we're marketing using business terms is the relationship between the pastor and a congregation member.

Kelvin Co (14:59):

So, for somebody who's not yet that, oh, this is what that pastor has to say as it relates to my life. Hmm, I'm interested. Well now let me check that out, right?

Frank Barry (15:14):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the message is this main thing, it happens every Sunday. It's the meat of using God's word, sharing what God's put on your heart and then being able to package that in a lot of ways, whether it's on social media or on your website and use that content in lots and lots of formats.

Kelvin Co (15:38):

Yes. Yeah. And so for churches that-

Frank Barry (15:41):

How do you, how can the-

Kelvin Co (15:41):

Oh, sorry. Go ahead. I apologize. Go ahead.

Frank Barry (15:43):

No, no, no, go ahead.

Kelvin Co (15:44):

No, I was just going to say, yeah. And, and there's this guy named Gary V, who's just this big marketing guru right now. Most of you guys may not be interested in checking him out because there's lots of bleep words in his content.

Frank Barry (16:00):

Language.

Kelvin Co (16:01):

Let me summarize his-

Frank Barry (16:02):

Yes, language notice.

Kelvin Co (16:03):

But let me summarize. Basically, his big takeaway. Long format can be translated to lots of short formats. So, imagine that 20, 30, 45 minute message that you preach, how many sound bites, how many quotes, how many carousel posts can you make? So, to your point, yes, that message, once it's preached, there's so many, not just marketing, but value-add, life-changing, potentially life-saving and prophetic content that can be put out there that can literally minister to someone's life and potentially define their eternity.

Frank Barry (16:46):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I mean, I just think about Instagram, TikTok, maybe Facebook a little bit, but generationally, Instagram, TikTok, people just sit there and scroll on that stuff.

Kelvin Co (16:58):

Yes.

Frank Barry (16:59):

Right? And they're just looking at what folks are putting out. And the algorithm over time learns your interests and stuff that you spend more time on, things you like, things you comment on. And then you start seeing more of that stuff. It's such an opportunity for churches, but it's also hard. Right? I recognize that the smaller church is hard pressed to do the things, the core things. Right?

Kelvin Co (17:27):

Yeah.

Frank Barry (17:27):

Putting on Sunday services, leading small groups, doing counseling or pastoral meetings. There's this really core stuff that is what you do as a pastor, going off and doing the extra stuff to take your Sunday message and break that up into a bunch of other content that's now out on social media, on YouTube, or used in your newsletter, or put on your website can be a daunting task. I mean, have you learned any ways of making that daunting task more manageable or more doable for the small church?

Kelvin Co (18:03):

Oh, yeah. Pro tip. Look at your millennials. Right? Sometimes we overthink it. We think that all of these posts are a big production. Oh, who's going to edit the video. Who's going to get the file? Who's going to create the graphics? Look at your millennials and go to their social media accounts.

Kelvin Co (18:30):

Oh, look at this guy. Look at this girl. Oh. Oh. And they do those posts in, what, a few seconds, in real time. And then have them start a ministry. At the end of the day, it's a great discipleship opportunity. Most problems that we experience in the church I've learned, always, not just some or most, always translates to a discipleship opportunity.

Kelvin Co (18:58):

Oh man, I don't have time to create social media posts. Look at your millennials and your Gen Z's. They're those who's like... Because what are some of the properties of them? They're either media savvy or media natives, right? They're tech savvy, or tech natives, which means that's second nature to them.

Kelvin Co (19:23):

So, of course, some teaching needs to be given. Most of them don't need the technology teaching. Most to them just needs, what do you call... Andy Stan... Oh, guardrails. Right? You don't want to do this. You don't want to do that. Just some parameters and then, yeah. I'm sure you can also find a more mature and faithful millennial or Gen Z-er that could just do this for you.

Kelvin Co (19:56):

It's one of the easiest things. Yeah. I've had lots of pastors like, "Hey, how do I get this going? I don't have a media guy." Oh, for social media, you don't need a media guy because it's simpler than that. Everything can be done on the phone. Just pull up from anybody in your youth ministry, you can easily find somebody who's got some good stuff, good looking-

Frank Barry (20:20):

Who knows what's going on, yeah.

Kelvin Co (20:20):

... things going on and you just recruit them. Again, it's a discipleship opportunity to them.

Frank Barry (20:27):

I mean, that's a great point. I'm also, again, just on this smaller church, how do you help pastors see the importance of this stuff? Should it be important? Should they care? And if they should, how do you help them go along that path of recruiting the volunteers and putting in the time and energy to make it? It doesn't need to be Elevation level, right. It's not that. It's different. It's very different. So, that's not the expectation.

Frank Barry (20:59):

But having that presence and putting it out there for your community that you serve. Yeah. How do you help them see it's important and then take the right steps to build out that kind of volunteer team?

Kelvin Co (21:11):

Yeah. So, before I answer that, real quick, the irony is I shouldn't say it's irony. I think it's a good thing. I happen to be friends with the team at Elevation. And yeah, we assume that it's this elaborate technology setup, most of their social media posts are what I describe. It's a couple of kids who are just really slick at it and real time using their phones. Because research has also found that we actually get higher engagement from posts that look like they're raw and real. But basically phone-based, not your black magic or red camera. And then it's polished with all those graphics and all those things.

Kelvin Co (22:02):

They literally have an army of millennials going around on their phones. And they've been trained to what the parameters are for the types of posts that they do. So, to answer your question. First, it's a pastor responded to the calling to pastor a church because they have a missional heart and a missional calling.

Kelvin Co (22:34):

So, Social media, I tend to look at this way, if you are called to go be a missionary on, I pick a country, China. Of course, you want to learn the language and you want to become familiar with their culture in order to minister to that mission field. Well, if your people, the people that you're called to are living in social media, if you frame social media, the digital space, as a mission field, like you would if you're called to China, then would we not want to learn the language and the culture of that people group that we're called to minister to?

Kelvin Co (23:30):

So, that's the first foundational thought. And then second is, I find that often the mental block of trying to start a ministry team, especially in the creative arts realm, because it's daunting and complex for mostly pastors, unless they're tech savvy or geeky. So, to remove the mindset, remember earlier when I said, it is a discipleship opportunity.

Kelvin Co (24:03):

So, that double clicks to two points, right? The discipleship opportunity always double clicks to two points. Do you have a leader that you trust that can take this on? Regardless of how big or small the church is, there's usually a few leaders that the lead pastor is working with, right? Maybe two, three, four. Who do you trust?

Kelvin Co (24:34):

And often, I've seen breakthroughs happen to churches or pastors that I talk to when I bring up this point. The default thinking when it comes to anything creative arts or media-related is, let me find the expert in that. In my experience, what I find is I think part of why Scott and I work so well is, instead of finding that video guy or that sound guy, find the person that knows your voice and you can trust to steward your voice and taste. Am I making sense there?

Frank Barry (25:22):

Yeah.

Kelvin Co (25:23):

Right.

Frank Barry (25:23):

Yeah.

Kelvin Co (25:25):

So, this person may not know how to edit a video or do graphics, but I trust that he knows my taste and he knows my voice. Now, empower and entrust him to go look for that team, rather than go look for that team yourself. So, first of all, wow, you just empowered a leader. Imagine how that leader just felt. Right? And now, that leader doesn't have to be a paid leader. It's just somebody who, it can be an elder, it can be somebody, a friend, a church that, I never thought about it that way.

Kelvin Co (26:08):

Oh, I know that person. Oh, yeah. That person knows my style. He understands why I like my Air Jordans, he knows why I like my preacher sneakers. Oh, yeah. And I trust that they know what I don't like, what I like. Oh, yeah. I'll let them go find that person. And then before you know it... And of course, there's follow up to that conversation. "Hey, let's pray together and believe that in two weeks, let's check in with each other. Have you found one or two people that you've seen just savvy with their phones or looked at social media accounts of people who I'm friends with, or my IG followers that go to our church?" And before you know it, you got a team going.

Frank Barry (26:52):

Right. Right. Yeah. And then how do you keep the momentum? I think that's something that churches struggle with is having that spark and maybe starting something. Like you had the idea, you find a great volunteer or there's a little [inaudible 00:27:07]. But then how do you keep the momentum and keep building... It's almost like, how do you keep building so you can create momentum to where you start seeing it working? And so you keep going, and going, and going? Because this stuff doesn't just magically become awesome the first week you try to do it.

Kelvin Co (27:25):

Yes. It's two wings to fly the plane, right? To keep the plane flying. Right? I've tried lots of trick moves to make these fun activity or da, da, da, da. Yeah, please try all of those things. But the first wing of that plane needs to be love. Right?

Kelvin Co (27:50):

Sometimes pastors forget to do what they're called to do, pastor. I don't know why, especially when it comes to creative arts ministry. Maybe because it just seems so out of their comfort zone. Pastor. A video editor, a social media volunteer, a photographer, just wants to be pastored as well. So first of all, pastor me, love me.

Kelvin Co (28:23):

And you don't got to do anything extra or special that you don't already do. Be who you are. That's why I'm here. Right?

Frank Barry (28:31):

Right.

Kelvin Co (28:32):

I'm here because I was called to your pastorate. Then just pastor me. And then the second wing to that plane is process. Right? And when I say process, I'm not talking about systems. This is consistency. If what the church can do right now is simply take the message and translate those into posts, then what are the steps that need to happen between preaching and getting the files out? Then let's start there. Right?

Kelvin Co (29:17):

Just consistency. Week in, week out, if that staff member, team member, volunteer, intern, part-time person can rely on the predictability of, oh, I'm going to get the sermon notes on Saturday. So I come in on Sunday, I can anticipate and I'm trained. I know what to do. So Sunday, I da, da, da, da. Or, oh, I'm waiting for that file. Well, has somebody taught me to get that file or is somebody going to get me that file? Is that reliable? Is that predictable?

Kelvin Co (29:54):

And then, is there consistency to checking, and posting, and responding? And consistency to celebrating. Celebrating the good work and celebrating with, oh, oh, oh, hey, hey, volunteer Jim. Dude, I saw somebody respond to that post that you made. Good job. That is what it's about.

Kelvin Co (30:20):

Oh, in fact, two Sundays ago, that guy showed up. He came, right? Or whatever breakthrough or result that came out of it. Now, as we mature or as the organization gets bigger, have more resources. Then the process becomes more complex of sophisticated. But the root, rule, really the secret for the success is consistency. When we process, we tend to overthink it and over-engineer. This consistently follow through on what works.

Frank Barry (30:56):

Yeah. Yeah. Consistency, I think, can be hard-

Kelvin Co (31:02):

The two wings-

Frank Barry (31:02):

... in the, yeah. Love and consistency.

Kelvin Co (31:04):

... is love and consistency in the process.

Frank Barry (31:07):

And you just have to keep at it. Right? And that's true for, I mean, I think pretty much anything. It's very rare that you have this first try, you hit a home run. You got to keep at it. Keep trying, keep practicing, keep learning.

Kelvin Co (31:23):

Yes.

Frank Barry (31:24):

Keep going, keep going. And a year later, you might start seeing some... Or you might after a year look back and go, "Wow, we really got better over the course of 12 months. Right? And things are starting to click."

Kelvin Co (31:41):

Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.

Frank Barry (31:41):

Yeah. Yeah. I guess, just as we touch on this towards the end here, are you seeing any church marketing and communication trend or changes that have hit over the last 18 months? Right? Like coronavirus pandemic, church from home, online church, all that kind of stuff. Hybrid church is a thing that's popping up. What trends are happening that you think are here to stay and how should churches be thinking about them?

Kelvin Co (32:14):

Okay. Several things come to mind. So, I think I can boil it down to two or maybe three things. Right? So, we've gone through, I don't know if it's the full cycle, but a pretty much significant cycle of that crazy pandemic ride of, "Hey, we can't congregate. Oh, it digital." And what's going to happen to brick and mortar church.

Kelvin Co (32:43):

So, I don't know if you call it a trend, but a revelation, number one, is can't replace brick and mortar. Right? People congregating, fellow-shipping, God's people coming together, there's no replacement. It's not about the quality of the production or the, oh, how eloquent my pastor is. We have access to the best preachers in the world at our fingertips. It's not about, ooh, Steven Furtick or Rick Warren or Michael Todd, it's I'm called to this congregation, and we congregate.

Kelvin Co (33:34):

Sure, that online service is convenient if I am not in the mood to go to church, but brick and mortar church is not just here to stay, but it is foundational. Because we are social people. We are created in God's image. He fellowships with three and he wants the fellowship with us. Jesus himself fellow-shipped with people. That's foundational.

Kelvin Co (34:03):

And then in terms of marketing trend, right? Because the tools are more savvy, targeting people is an incredibly powerful tool that is available to churches that's not very expensive and is not very hard to do. So, let me explain that a little bit further.

Kelvin Co (34:34):

Along with the benefit of how easy it is to get the word out there is it's easy for everyone else to get the word out there, which poses a problem, then there's noise. Then you're competing to be heard. Well, the good news is, targeting people... You know how we, I don't know if you've experienced this, Frank, but we tend to be like, "How do they know? We were just talking about Air Jordans. And all of a sudden, I get an ad-

Frank Barry (35:08):

Ads.

Kelvin Co (35:10):

... for an Air Jordan. This is scary. Well, that's the reality of the world we live in. Big brother is watching and they know, and the data is available to us as churches. So, so that trend, I would translate in practical terms for church leaders who are watching or listening into two steps. One, know your congregation persona. Know your target audience, if you will. Right? So, if your church is, let's just say, New life Nelson, right? New Life Church.

Kelvin Co (35:51):

So, define who is New Life Nelson? Oh, he's 32-years-old. He's married. Do the profile. It doesn't have to be crazy, demographic research study. No, just look at your congregation. And it can be a 20 minute, 30 minute fun activity for you and your wife and your staff. Define who that person is, and then create a sponsored ad on Facebook or something targeting that profile. And then your post, that volunteer, or that team that you just built, empower them to create a couple of posts and target those people to cut through the noise.

Frank Barry (36:32):

Right.

Kelvin Co (36:33):

Right? And some of those profiles doesn't have to just be demographic information. It can be the answer to the question, what are the pains that New Life Nelson is feeling? Oh, it's debt, or feeling insecure about raising their children, things like that. So, parenting content is what you put out there and that you can target.

Kelvin Co (37:03):

And then when people do respond, have a follow up question in place. So now, I circle all of that back to my original point at the beginning. At the end of the day, everything we do are simply conduits to the relationship between a pastor and the people he or she is called to minister to. You put a sound bite, or a graphic about parenting and somebody responds or likes it. Huh.

Kelvin Co (37:37):

Well, that's essentially a conversation that the pastor just had with somebody at their church about parenting. Right? And so, imagine the opportunity for us to follow through. And for that pastoral relationship actually connect to a physical and a fellowship one and ultimately a salvation and discipleship one.

Frank Barry (37:58):

Yeah. I mean, I love the thought of churches really understanding who their people are. And that can be a weird conversation or a weird thought process for a pastor or a staff to go through, to go, "Oh."

Kelvin Co (38:16):

It is.

Frank Barry (38:16):

But isn't the gospel for everyone? Well, absolutely, right? It is. Jesus came and died for all of us, but churches in different parts of the world, where I live right here and you could go 10 minutes down the road and the demographic and the types of people and families and all that only 10 minutes away could look a little different than here. Right?

Frank Barry (38:41):

And so, the church that's here versus the church that's 10 minutes down the road might look a little different. And so, really thinking about that, understanding it and developing a thought process or a strategy around like, okay, this is my target audience for the church we have right here.

Frank Barry (39:02):

It doesn't mean that people aren't welcome of all shapes and sizes and types and all that, it just means that there's something about who we are as a church and who we attract and the community we live in and it tends to look like this. Great. Now I know that. I recognize it. Maybe I had to wrestle with that a little bit. And then you go, "Okay. Well, what kind of things are this group of people really working through, wrestling through, living through in their lives right now?"

Frank Barry (39:33):

Like pretend it was a church in my area that had a bunch of me's in it, right? 40-year-olds, got a few kids, professional careers, that kind of stuff. If you had a bunch of those in your church and the community was made up of that, you'd go, "Okay. Well, what do they need spiritually? How do I meet those needs?"

Frank Barry (39:53):

And so, yeah, parenting and finances and marriage classes and things of that nature are probably going to speak to us, right? Things that were really in the thick of.

Kelvin Co (40:08):

And that is the biggest marketing trend, not just of church, of every business. Know your audience and go after it. The technology is there. Target them.

Frank Barry (40:20):

Yeah. Yeah. 100%. And I guess first knowing your audience, right? Being able to confidently say, "This is the kind of person or group of people that I'm really going after." Not that I'm excluding others, but this is the sweet spot. And having some conviction about that and then having things going on at church that are for those people, right? You got to have that going on. And then you can go target more of them. Right? Because you're like, "I've got the, whatever, the parenting, new moms' classes or newly wed classes," or whatever it is. Whatever the things are that speak to your audience.

Frank Barry (41:03):

And then you can go target those and you can get the social media stuff going around those things and just really hone in on that particular audience. I just don't know if churches think that way. And I hope people hear this and go, "Oh, man. I can do that. That's cool. It makes sense to me. I can start trying some of this." So, love the conversation around all that.

Kelvin Co (41:28):

Yeah, thank you. It's been super, super fun. And I've had the blessing of seeing a lot of churches like, oh, that clicked. And they tried it and see it translate to souls.

Frank Barry (41:45):

Yeah.

Kelvin Co (41:45):

It's the best thing.

Frank Barry (41:46):

Yeah.

Kelvin Co (41:46):

The best thing.

Frank Barry (41:47):

Making an impact, helping people know Jesus. That's it at the end of the day, right?

Kelvin Co (41:51):

At the and of the day.

Frank Barry (41:53):

But finding those felt needs that bring people in is a big part of the church connecting with the community and growing and introducing people to Jesus. Right?

Kelvin Co (42:02):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Frank Barry (42:04):

So, love that. Do you have any resources that you know of, I mean, obviously Ready Set Grow, people should check you guys out. So, tell us a little bit more about how to do that and are there other resources, just online things that church leaders can learn from in this marketing communications world?

Kelvin Co (42:23):

Oh, yeah. Thank you. Yeah. Visit rsgleaders.com, right? That's our website. RSG obviously is standing for Ready Set Grow.

Frank Barry (42:32):

So RSG.

Kelvin Co (42:34):

Rsgleaders.com, yeah. We have Ready Set Grow University. That's basically, it's a library of resources. In fact, you can sign up for a 30 day free trial to access a library of courses, master classes, sermon resources, webinars.

Kelvin Co (42:56):

And then we have two resources that are coming soon. In fact, next week we're launching it. Workshops. A workshop on helping churches grow their generosity culture. Right? It feels weird often to talk about money, but that's something that pastor Scott has gotten really good about. And we have seen minimum 15% increase with churches that we've helped. And at the end of the day, it is not about money, it's about people, the people in the church shifting in mindset, about stewardship, about missional thinking and living.

Kelvin Co (43:41):

And then imagine as a church actually being able to do more, hire the right people, do more mission things, do building. Actually, renovate the kids' building or buy the equipment that's needed. And so, yeah, we have a workshop coming up for that, a workshop on succession. Right? I think Ed Stetzer said, in the next 10 years, there will be about 380,000 pastors that will retire.

Frank Barry (44:17):

Wow.

Kelvin Co (44:18):

But most pastors we found, 90 something percent, do not have a succession transition plan. Right? And pastor Scott has walked a lot of pastors through how to put together a succession and transition plan. And it's not about, well, you're 60-years-old, it's time to plan that. Imagine if you're 30, 40, 50-years-old.

Kelvin Co (44:44):

He transitioned when God called him to at age 50. Right? And he learned a lot and it's pretty involved. Yeah. And then we have what's called ready, Set Grow Inner Circle, which is a immersive three year journey. It's a very close group of pastors that we work with for three years to help them break through and grow their church. It's pretty much everything we know, we will give to you. And it's not DIY, it's DWY, we do it with you. And man, that is just the most amazing. So, rsgleaders.com is where they can go.

Frank Barry (45:26):

Love it.

Kelvin Co (45:27):

Yeah.

Frank Barry (45:28):

Love it. Love it. Okay. I have a couple of quick questions to end the interview.

Kelvin Co (45:31):

Yes, please.

Frank Barry (45:31):

Easy ones, rapid fire.

Kelvin Co (45:33):

All right.

Frank Barry (45:34):

What's a book that you've read that inspired you, I don't want to say the most, but just something you read that really inspired you that other people should read?

Kelvin Co (45:43):

Okay. Right now, my wife and I are reading together Guy Raz, he's an NPR know podcaster. His podcast is called How I Built This. His book, How I built This, just came out December, December last year. Anyway, incredible. His podcast basically, on his podcast, he interviews founders of companies like Uber, or Panera Bread, or Lululemon, and oh my gosh, it is incredibly inspiring. It's very practical and it's raw and real of how to start a company. But even more than that, breakthrough. Like how to break through, the grit, the perseverance to break through when you're dealing with obstacles.

Frank Barry (46:47):

Love that. Love that.

Kelvin Co (46:47):

... in your organization. Love that book. Love, love, love that book.

Frank Barry (46:51):

So my second question is, and you might have already given the answer, but what's a podcast that you're listening to right now?

Kelvin Co (46:59):

Yeah. Let's go fun one and serious one. Fun one is, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! It's NPR's, they call it the news quiz. Basically, they take current events like the news, and then they just write jokes all around it. And it's just the funnest-

Frank Barry (47:18):

That's great.

Kelvin Co (47:18):

... thing to do.

Frank Barry (47:18):

We probably all need more of that these days. So, that's great.

Kelvin Co (47:22):

Yeah, I love it. I've been listening to that for, gosh, more than 10 years.

Frank Barry (47:27):

Wow.

Kelvin Co (47:27):

And then, yes. How I Built This with Guy Raz. If I'm to pick one to recommend, oh, it's just so, so, so inspiring. And for church leaders, I dare say, I strongly recommend it because it's powerful leadership thinking but not packaged in a leadership talk.

Frank Barry (47:49):

And it's not the church context, which I think-

Kelvin Co (47:52):

Yes.

Frank Barry (47:52):

... is actually good for you to, in any industry. It could be for me listening to something that's not in even my industry, but you listen to those things and you go, "Oh, that applies to me." Or, "That could work. I could try something like that over in my context." I think that kind of stuff is really helpful for people.

Kelvin Co (48:12):

And another way I feel that it can benefit a pastor is if you have business leaders in your congregation, that gives you tremendous insight on what challenges, struggles, and psychological, emotional, mental things that they go through.

Frank Barry (48:30):

Yeah. Yeah. Love it. Kelvin, this has been great, man. Thank you for coming on the show.

Kelvin Co (48:35):

Well, that was fun. You're-

Frank Barry (48:37):

Super, super fun.

Kelvin Co (48:39):

... a great interviewer.

Frank Barry (48:40):

Thank you. Thank you. Well, guys, thanks for watching. Whether you're watching live or you're watching the recording, we're excited. Thanks for coming. We'll see you guys next week on another episode of Modern Church Leader. See you.

Narrator (48:51):

If you enjoyed this episode of the Modern Church Leader, consider sharing it with the pastor or minister you think would benefit the most from listening to this conversation. You can send them to modernchurchleader.com or share this episode directly from your podcast app. Be sure to subscribe for free on YouTube, Apple Podcast or Spotify so you never episode. And we'll see you again next week with another conversation here on the Modern Church Leader.

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The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

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The Role Marketing Plays in Church Growth with Kelvin Co

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The Role Marketing Plays in Church Growth with Kelvin Co

Hopefully, you will walk away with some ideas for your church and a fresh perspective on church marketing.

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The Role Marketing Plays in Church Growth

Church marketing can be a tricky thing. It's easy to cross the line from effective promotion to cheesy pandering. But when done well, church marketing can play a powerful role in attracting new worshippers and growing the congregation. 

It's no secret that for churches to grow in an increasingly competitive and secular society, they need to do more than just keep a good Sunday morning service. They need to think outside of the box and find a way to get the word out about their church in a way that catches the attention of today's seekers. 

There are many different aspects of church marketing, from advertising and public relations to social media and website design. Whatever tactics are employed, what matters most is that the church's promotional efforts are genuine and impactful.

The challenge for church leaders is to find the correct balance between using church marketing to create this meaningful relationship and the appropriate cost and time commitment required to achieve this. 

Remember that church marketing isn’t only about getting people to attend services. It’s also about developing relationships with them and building a community—this is the true purpose of church marketing. 

In this episode, we sit down with the Director of Communication and Strategy of Ready Set Grow, Pastor Kelvin Co. He will discuss how relationship building is a key component in church marketing and how it relates to any church's overall mission and purpose.

“All of these communication, technology, production tools are all simply vehicles to accomplish one thing only. Pastors are called to shepherd a community. A pastor is called to a community, and all of these tools are simply to facilitate that shepherding relationship.”
-Kelvin Co

Pastor Kelvin Co worked with Pastor Scott at the Oaks for 16 years as the Executive Creative Arts Pastor before joining him at Ready Set Grow and 415 Leaders as the Director of Communication and Strategy. He’s been involved in various aspects of creative media, including live stage production, TV, radio, marketing, donor development, web strategy, social media, etc., since 1987.

Hopefully, you will walk away with some ideas for your church and a fresh perspective on church marketing. 

By the end of this episode, you will learn:

  • Church marketing strategies to help grow your church
  • How your church can benefit from digital marketing 
  • How relationship strengthens church marketing
  • How to keep millennials engaged in church
  • Essential church media trends
  • And so much more…

Resources Mentioned:

Know more about the Ready Set Grow  Inner Circle program: The Ready Set Grow Inner Circle
Try out the RSG University 30-day free trial: RSG University

Other Episodes You May be Interested In:

How the Right Marketing Can Enhance Discipleship
How to Market Your Small Church: A 9-Part System for Every Pastor
The Future of Church Growth is Changing Fast—If You Blink, You'll Go Extinct

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[8:54] All of those tools that I mentioned, including marketing, are simply vessels, conduits, to help facilitate the relationship between the pastor and the sheep that God has called them to pastor.

[10:26] If I need to think about how to promote the church, I always go back to the pastor - what is God speaking to you for this church? Because what God is speaking to you for this church is what God is speaking to you for this community.

[14:49] The main product that we're marketing, using business terms, is the relationship between the pastor and a congregation member.

[16:24] That message, once it's preached, there's so many, not just marketing, but the value add life-changing, potentially life-saving and prophetic content that can literally minister to someone's life and potentially define their eternity.

[22:26] A  pastor responded to the calling to pastor a church because they have a missional heart and a missional calling.

[33:35] Brick and mortar church is not just here to stay but foundational because we are social people.

[35:13]  Know your congregation persona. Know your target audience. It doesn't have to be a crazy demographic research study; just look at your congregation. Define who that person is, then create a sponsored ad on Facebook or something targeting that profile. 

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