Wednesday, May 17, 2006

marketing as pastoral care

I really appreciate good marketing. Usually it’s marketing as creativity – the spark or storytelling flair that shapes a good advert. My theory is that marketing is one of our contemporary art forms. Historically artists would have patrons. Now you have marketing firms. Both demand a fair bit of soul selling (Doesn’t most work at some point?), but do provide a creative outlet in society.

But every now and again I catch a glimpse of what I call marketing as pastoral care. Yesterday I got a letter from a book store. A new book in a series has come out. I had brought earlier books in the series from them. Would I like to buy the next book in the series?

I just think that’s really smart marketing. Someone is trying to read my needs and is making a “stamped” effort to help me. Nicely written and I can always say no.

It felt like marketing as pastoral care. I said yes, as much in appreciation of being pastorally cared for and innovatively connected with, as for the product. This sense of marketing as pastoral care seems to be to be heading toward the “experience economy.” The terms come from Pine and Gilmour’s The Experience Economy.

It’s one of the most provocative books I’ve read in terms of my thinking on worship. They argue that we have shifted from
to producing goods
to consuming services
to experiences

They explore how experiences need not only entertain, but can also educate. (There is more on this in my book; out of bounds church? book) Which opened some windows for me into thinking of worship as teaching and formational. If Jesus could use experiences to transform in Luke 24; breaking bread at Emmaus and showing his hands to Thomas, then what does that mean for worship and formation today?

Posted by steve at 09:35 AM


  1. So are you saying you like or dislike it? I don’t think I’d personally feel anything from being pastorally cared for by ‘supplements’ such as books or advertisments… Mind you, I’ve never recieved any

    Comment by Andrew Brown — May 17, 2006 @ 10:07 am

  2. Thanks for the always-provocative thoughts. I tend to think of marketing in a bad light, but I suppose it’s really about motivation. Am I trying to convince you to buy the next book in the series because I want to sell books and become rich? Or am I genuinely trying to serve you? It would seem there are people in both camps who do exactly the same things, with regard to marketing.

    Comment by Ben Sternke — May 18, 2006 @ 7:51 am

  3. you gotta read cluetrain ( and pinko marketing (

    btw, any chance you can head down to sf the weekend of june 25 – you’d love this (

    Comment by bob — May 18, 2006 @ 9:36 am

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