These days given COVID-19 are certainly challenging for us all. As I listened and reflected on the words of Cardinal Dolan this week-end, it occurred to me that perhaps providing a few insights from my book Marketing God might be helpful to our churches, schools and ministries at a time like this. So, on this “Marketing Monday”, let me share a few thoughts or insights for you to consider.
Whenever I speak about marketing in general or on the book Marketing God in particular, I always reference that one of the most important parts of marketing is availability. If something is not available, no amount of marketing will make it available. Unfortunately, if something is not available it is difficult to make people aware of it, to get people to try it and become loyal to it.
The flip side however is that when there is an awareness to something or there is loyalty to something, but it is not available to people, that causes great distress. They know what it is, they love it, but they can’t get it: that serves to deepen the desire. One of the “gifts” of this pandemic is that people are truly missing their churches, their pastors, their faith families and most especially, the Holy Eucharist. Their desire for the sacraments of faith appear to be deepening.
In the book Marketing God we discuss the importance of availability in Chapter 35. The Bible verse that starts that chapter is: And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8. During this time of the pandemic, how many of us are truly awaken, stepping out and saying “Here am I! Send me.” Yet, we can’t go in person. That creates a deep longing in each of us.
I suspect that when those church doors open again many hungry people will come flooding back to church, to Mass. Because it was unavailable to them, they will recognize how much they missed it; how much they longed for it. No matter how long someone has been gone from the church, the reopening of the doors will be a re-opening for each of them. How will you welcome your flock back?
REFLECTION: Pastors, parishes, ministries – how might you warmly welcome everyone back? Is there anything you might do a little differently? How might you help each person know how much they were missed?