Evangelization is Marketing

Next week, we’ll celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the day the Apostles received the Holy Spirit, and emerged from their locked upper room to spread the Good News throughout the world.  As the song from the Dameans in 1969 told us, “Tell the world a mighty wind has blown!” Over 50 years later…and we still have much to learn.

In about 6 months, we’ll celebrate the First Sunday of Advent – the start of the new liturgical year, as we prepare for The Feast of the Incarnation of Our Lord (commonly known as Christmas).  Pretty interesting, isn’t it?  The Spirit renews our lives, and six months later, we prepare to, well, renew our lives.

Regarding today’s topic, in my work with schools, I’ve heard many school administrators say that marketing is nothing more than advertising, “And we don’t have money for that.”  The good news is that with Evangelization, you don’t need “money for that.”

Advertising is just one form of marketing.  According to http://www.investopedia.com, “Marketing is everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them. Even the small tasks like writing thank-you letters, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls promptly and meeting with a past client for coffee can be thought of as Marketing.”

All those things that are done to spread the “good news” about a company, a product or a service, can be considered marketing.

And that’s what we are called to do!

While a business needs to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them, the Church’s mission is to spread the word of Jesus Christ to all corners of the earth, encourage them to enter into full communion with the Church, and maintain that relationship through fellowship and worship.  Sounds quite similar, no?

If you agree, here’s an idea you might want to replicate, or find how you can apply it to your parish.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Irwin, PA celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2012. To begin the year-long celebration, it held a procession through the town on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ on Sunday, June 26, 2011.  The parish’s pastor at the head of the procession held a monstrance containing a consecrated host. It’s a practice reminiscent of processions that were commonplace 30 or 40 years ago. At that time, people wore semi-formal attire to church – men wore sport coats, and women, dresses, as well as chapel veils.

This parish is located in Western Pennsylvania, where the Pittsburgh Steelers spirit is high (and this year, so far, undefeated!).  Those who come to Mass on Sunday morning during the Fall and Winter don their official Steelers jerseys with their favorite player’s name and number on the back. In keeping with that mindset, the sesquicentennial committee developed a light blue (of course, since the parish is under the patronage of Mary) t-shirt with the event logo. The parishioner could also have their name and a number that is of special significance to them printed on the back.

(By the way, in your charity, please pray for the pastor of this parish who is bearing a cross of a significant health diagnosis.  Thank you!)

The procession is a sign of the presence of the Body of Christ – both in terms of the Eucharist as well as the Church, the people of God. It’s an awesome idea, and personifies the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Good News at all times; if necessary, use words.”  Our very presence can be – no, needs to be – a witness to our faith.  And, as recent world and national events have shown us, that is what is so needed in our world today!


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