Survival of the Black Church in difficult economic times : a case study
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More U.S. adults are members of Historically Black Churches than the combined total of those connected to Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Orthodox, Jehovah's Witness, and Hindu religious centers (Pew 2008). In addition to its considerable reach, Historically Black Churches have long been a pillar of the Black community. The impact of the Black Church is evident, not just in areas of religiosity, but firmly embedded in issues of economics and politics (Ellison and Sherkat 1995; Frazer 1964; Lincoln and Mamiya 1990; Morris 1984). Given their prominent engagement in spiritual and secular matters, and vital positionality as cultural symbols of blackness, effective implementation and delivery of marketing communication is an imperative for African American Churches. The purpose of this case study is to examine the ways in which the tools of marketing communication can be utilized within the context of a down economy by Historically Black Churches as a means of promoting their symbolic value and advancing their spiritually and secularly-based agendas. (Thomas, 2012) The average African American Church, regardless of denomination, has financial difficulty even during good economic conditions. However, during this recent recession, the African-American Church is facing huge challenges to survive. African-American houses of worship will need effective marketing and advertising plans to remain culturally relevant and compete for stable congregations. This case study explores the importance of culture, tradition, ethnic foundations, and importance of Historically Black Churches in diverse communities. These elements, in conjunction with results from observations of a local community , and a input from a minister , used in the development of a marketing and advertising framework that can be employed by Historically Black Churches. The framework also incorporates successful and transferable marketing communication methodologies used by other non-profit organizations. However, the framework can be altered to accommodate warranted contextual factors.