Demographics

Last year I did a lot of reading on marketing and church growth. I also listened to several people talk about it. I kept coming across one concept that intrigues me. Key demographic. That is a term you will hear a lot in media and other areas in marketing. A TV show has a key demographic that they are targeting. It isn’t that they don’t want certain people to watch their show it is just that they have a specific audience in mind and they do things to attract them. Commercials do the same. They have a specific group of people they want to sell their product to and the design campaigns to reach them.

A few years ago I heard a leader at a church talk about churches needing to figure out who they want to reach and plan and organize to do it. Their church targets 30-50 year old men. Why? Because more women come to church without a spouse than men. They wanted a place that wives could get husbands involved. It isn’t a manly church but they do things in ways that are attractive to men.

Another guy talked about how their church targets non-church people. Their sermons are aimed to help people not familiar with the Bible navigate it and see how it applies to their lives. They do many things with non-church people in mind. They will tell you if you want more go somewhere else. They are designed to be a place that Christians can bring their non-churched friends and they will not be intimidated or feel lost or out of place by not knowing the story of Belshazzer.

My first thought was negative about this but then I got to thinking that most of us have a key demo even if we don’t think we do. Let me give you an example. How is your building decorated? Is it appealing to what age group? What do your presentations look like? Are they sharp and crisp or google images and clipart? What songs do you sing? Old or new? How does your preacher preach? Does he expect you to know the Bible to understand his message? Is it full of application or information? How do you dress? Is it formal, dressed up, casual, etc?

The average church I have attended key demo is churched, white, 50-80 year old. How do I know this. Our sermons are filled with references to other passages that only church people would know. Our songs are older. Our decor looks like my parents and grandparents house. Graphic art is not a priority. Information is valued over application. People dress up because dress is equated with respect and reverence. Things are done formally and precise.

Ever been to things geared to youth? Graphics are sharp. Things are done informally and dress is casual. The decor (if funded) looks like their house not their grandparents. Lessons are filled with application. We sing new songs and keep introducing new ones.

All this makes me think about how church growth strategies and demographics may have to do with each other. Perry Noble said in a lecture that the spiritually mature sometimes need to yield to the spiritually weak so that they can grow. His point was that they target 25-40 year olds at their church and that they love old people but they yield their style to a younger style to attract them.

I just find this interesting and worth thought.

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