Every organization has a target market. [Your church included.] This target market defines a particular demographic that the organization’s efforts and resources are focused on reaching.
When a radio station plays all pop music, it is targeting teenagers and young adults. It certainly welcomes older listeners, but its genre is directed at a specific age group.
When a clothing store paints its walls pink and puts flowers in the windows, it is communicating that the space is designed for women. It won’t turn away male customers and may even have a few sale racks for them, but the environment was not designed with men in mind.
When Nike puts athletes in every commercial, it is presenting its products to people who play sports. They will not stop uncoordinated people like me from buying their shoes, but those shoes were not made with me in mind.
And whether your church means to or not, when you select your worship songs, decorate your facility, design your promotions, and make every decision, you are focusing on a certain demographic. You might not say it [you may even resist admitting it] but everything you do attracts the attention of a particular audience.
Maybe you have resisted the idea of defining your target market. After all, the gospel is for everyone and Christianity is not exclusive. But defining a target market is not about rejecting non-targeted individuals. It is simply an acknowledgement of the people receiving your primary focus and being consistent in the way you approach them.
The fact of the matter is, you already have a target market. And there are 3 reasons why I believe you should go ahead and define it…
1. A target market gives your church PERSONALITY
People are attracted to organizations with personality. Apple builds its products and stores with a young audience in mind. With this focus, it has created a fun, modern, and innovative personality that actually engages a wide variety of people. Interestingly, this personality regularly attracts people outside of the target market. (I bet you can think of several Apple users age 55+.) Dell Computers is quite the opposite. It has a much broader target market and equally less personality. Organizational personality can be attractive to people of every type but it is built with a clear focus on a specific demographic.
2. A target market gives your church CONSISTENCY
Pull together every piece of communication in your church — every handout, every flyer, every poster, and every webpage. If you removed your logo from each of item, would someone still be able to see that they belong together? A consistent expression of your organization presents your church as a focused effort with a clear sense of purpose. When everything looks different, your organization appears to lack unity and direction. Defining your target market gives you a single audience for every piece of communication. With a focus on one audience, each department of your church can communicate with consistency.
3. A target market gives your church RELEVANCE
When a church lacks a defined target market, it continues to make decisions based on the people it has already reached. The problem is that those individuals are growing older over time. As efforts and resources continue to focus on that audience, ministry methods will become outdated. While the culture outside of the church is constantly changing, the methods of such a church eventually become irrelevant.
Defining a target market gives you an area of external culture to focus on. For instance, were your target “25-40 year old parents”, your leadership team could continue asking “What is the best way to reach 25-40 years old parents?” for years to come. The specific parents will change over time but your church’s focus will not as it constantly reinvents itself to reach the next generation of them. This ensures that methods are constantly updated to reach unbelievers.
So are you wondering who your target market may be? Take a look around your church this weekend and ask, “What do the majority of these people have in common?” Does that target position you to reach your community for years to come? If so, clearly define it and ensure that you continue to reach it. If your vision for the future involves a different focus, define a new target market and begin to seek out the best ways to reach it.