Our History

Last week, Kevin wrote about why we do what we do for the first entry in our heart and soul series. This week I get to share a little of the history and how we got here.

A Growing Church in Chicago
It all began in 1997 as a volunteer for a suburban Chicago church of about 800 people who needed help with marketing. I had been attending for several months when Pastor Greg approached me–knowing that I was in the business of marketing and communications–and asked if I could assist with a few things. Being the naïve youngster that I was, I took the challenge. For two years I worked closely with church leadership to develop sermon series campaigns, the launch of the first church web site, ads for the blossoming radio ministry, and a host of other marketing components.

Today, I am the president of Personality™, a cause marketing agency I founded in 1998, shortly before I moved to Los Angeles. I am also the assistant vice president and director of communications for a Los Angeles-based denomination with 50,000 churches worldwide.

Mom Doesn’t Like Sucks
It was April 15, 2004, when I was sitting with the Personality™ team in a hotel conference room in downtown Los Angeles. We were dreaming and scheming about a variety of things for the company when an idea hit us. We don’t work with many churches, but we’re always getting requests from them. Instead of continually turning them away (mostly because of price), we thought: What would it look like if we created a platform where we could just give it all away, as well as provide a space and place for others to do the same? The idea for Church Marketing Sucks was born.

Church Marketing Sucks was established that summer as the blog to frustrate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ. By giving away all of our thoughts, ideas and information about church marketing and communication–combined with a community of others who would want to do the same–so many churches could be helped!

Let’s Help Churches!
The idea for helping as many churches as possible to get better at their communication has been on my mind and heart since my Chicago days. It was also heavy on my heart when my wife and I helped plant a church in the Los Angeles area in 2001. On several occasions I have tried–unsuccessfully–to develop a business model that would provide churches the products and services they needed at really affordable prices. One of these models was attempted in 2004 under the name “Center for Church Communication” (CFCC). The response was mediocre at best. With the growing popularity of Church Marketing Sucks, we made the decision to incorporate the Center for Church Communication as a non-profit organization. It offered a home for Church Marketing Sucks as well as an outlet for the number of ideas and efforts that didn’t quite fit with Church Marketing Sucks. While the business idea crashed and burned, something far better could rise from the ashes.

It Takes People, People
In 1997 I met Kevin D. Hendricks. He had volunteered one of his summers while in college to come to Chicago and intern for a publishing company with me. Little did I know that we would begin a friendship and partnership that continues to this day. A freelance writer of nearly 10 years, including a two-year stint at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Kevin has been the primary caretaker for the Center for Church Communication labs, including the role of lead blogger for Church Marketing Sucks. It is a privilege to work with Kevin!

It has been encouraging to see more and more people come alongside and help. People like Michael Buckingham and Brandon Meek who have been leading the Church Marketing Lab and the dozen or so people who have been guest bloggers for Church Marketing Sucks since the beginning. The Center for Church Communication is not about me or Kevin or anybody in particular. It is about a community of communicators who are passionate about telling the greatest story ever told to more and more people every day.

Next up… National Community Church Pastor Mark Batterson shares his thoughts on Church Marketing Sucks.