In the past months my wife and I have received at least two direct mail postcards advertizing new churches in the mail. One of them meets in the local cinema and the other is going to meet in a high school down the road. In spite of the recent trends and the opportunity provided by meeting in a space already endowed with a giant screen, I believe these churches feature real live sermons and not the pre-recorded (or even live) video variety. They feature "real life topics" and "rocking music," so they probably appeal to as wide a swathe of the population as is possible in un-churched Oregon
Direct mail is a fascinating medium for advertizing church plants. Both we received were illustrated with full color graphics and photographs. They of course contained pithy copy, meant to engage the social media generation. A mass mailing is impersonal, though I am not sure that is a problem. After all, it is only one or two steps back from the scatter shot appeals which Paul made in the forums of various Greek cities on his missionary journeys. Still my initial impression was to mock the strategy.
First of all I am automatically skeptical of church plants in suburban Washington County. I am sure there are already a sufficient number of congregations to meet the needs of the Christians in our community. Therefore I hazard to guess that new congregations are not filling a niche in the needs of the Church in the area so much as they are satisfying the realpolitik of church leadership.
Second, I am of the opinion that the Church needs no marketing apart from the substance of the gospel. If repentance from sin and its attendant forgiveness are not good enough, we should not bother trying. As was evidenced by John the Baptist, the gospel in no way needs to be dressed up as "relevant" to the wider culture. If snazzy marketing is needed to get people in the fully reclining theater seats, then I have a feeling that the people responding to the call do not really need the gospel. Indeed, the wording of such advertizing is geared towards winning converts from other churches, not toward attracting the lost.
But direct mail has its merits. As I saw yesterday on a billboard adorning the rear side of a bus, the postal service has no spam filter. Yet we still call most of what we receive "junk."