Updating the Roman Catholic Church…

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Signature assignment for Marketing 330 at Northwest Christian University

An Offering  (If you are Catholic – click here first!)

In coming up with a large firm to study for this paper, it was important to make sure it was a firm that could make an impact on the whole world.  Although most of the faithful Catholics would see the church as a non-profit, it operates like a multi-national company in the way it uses its resources across almost all boundaries of nations.  However, the purpose of this paper is not to show how to make the church more profitable in monetary gains, but show how one minor change to the application of one of its seven sacraments could change how the whole world perceives God’s mercy.

Updating the Roman Catholic Church by Bringing the Mercy of God to the Whole World

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy that started on December 8th, 2015.  During this Year of Mercy there are going to be many opportunities to experience God’s mercy for the people that are already Roman Catholic.  The main problem of public relations that exists for the worldwide church today is that we spend a lot of time discussing how we are different and not enough time discussing how we are the same.  There may be the same understanding of who God is between many of the Christians that live in the same territory, but how often do they get together to discuss their commonalities.  Sure, there have been plenty of ecumenical activities planned by the worldwide church, but too often those activities are for the leadership and not for the regular guy on the street.

Executive Summary

The Roman Catholic Church has been a missionary church since its inception.  In the interest of ecumenism, I will not get into how or when the inception occurred.  However, it is undisputed that the Roman Catholic Church has essentially infiltrated every corner of the world with its teachings about who Jesus is and the good news he brings about salvation.  They have used some pretty amazing tactics over the centuries, in order to insure that the basic teachings of the church were not lost, but new believers would be easily enculturated into the church.  For instance, when coming to the new world, it was an image of a mestizo woman that was used to convert over 9 million indigenous people of Mexico.  The woman in the image is believed to be the Mother of God by the faithful, but she is pictured as an Aztec princess with the facial features of a half Indian/half Spanish or mestizo woman.  The miraculous nature of the image and how it came into being is omitted in this report, to focus on the nature of spread of the church through the use of the image.

The new product offering that could be offered by the Roman Catholic Church is a meeting with a priest in order to experience the mercy of God.  The great thing about this new product that will be offered in the church, is that instead of adapting the message to fit the people that are receiving the message, it is offering a message that has existed for over 2000 years to everyone.  Almost 2000 years ago, in a desert just outside of Jerusalem, John the Baptist was calling for the people of faith to repent, and they came out of the comfort of their homes to join him in the desert to be washed by the waters of repentance.  They came because they knew they were in need of mercy, but they would have to wait for the one John was announcing before they would know God’s mercy.  As it is recorded in the gospel of Luke, “John answered them all, saying, ‘I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.’”  (Luke 3:16 NABRE)  The one mightier that was coming is Jesus, and the faithful believe that he is coming again.  Before he comes again, the faithful Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the sacrament of Reconciliation in the person of the priest, so they confess their sins to them and receive absolution in the form of their prayer and blessing from God.  This meeting between the penitent and confessor is normally only offered to the baptized Catholics that are seeking to repair their broken relationship with Jesus.  However, this new product offering would be to allow all people to meet with the priest in order to know the mercy of God through him.  In order to be more concise, “the church” will be used interchangeably with the Roman Catholic Church.

Situation Analysis

Normally, there is some apprehension among the faithful Catholics to any kind of change.  In addition, Roman Catholics tend to be a little possessive of our Sacramental life, especially the time with their priests.  Roman Catholics believe that the sacraments are a physical expression of a spiritual reality.  Namely, Jesus becomes present to them through the sacraments, which expresses the spiritual sense of God being always with us.  However, because Pope Francis has declared this Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8th, 2015 to November 20th, 2016, the faithful Catholics could see this as an extension of God’s mercy to all people.  As with most new things, you have the danger of the competitive churches that could offer a similar thing at their churches.  They could offer meetings with their pastors.  However, the good news is that any meeting between believers in search of his mercy will be met by an appearance of Jesus.  As the scripture says, “Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  (Matthew 18:19-20)  Still, the general purpose of this new product offering will be accomplished if more people are approaching his mercy through a meeting with Jesus, even if it isn’t always happening in the Roman Catholic Church.  The marketing plan of the past within the church could be seen as converting the message to meet people how they see themselves, and this new product offering would be a way of meeting them just as they are, and bringing them to a place of repentance and conversion with the direction of people within the church to help them.

SWOT Analysis.   The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the Roman Catholic Church are pretty obvious.  The strength of the Roman Catholic Church is the tradition and the sheer number of faithful followers around the world.  The opening of the doors of the confessional to all people could serve to strengthen the faithful, by helping them to better see the value of the confessional to their own faith life.  Also, the idea that many people would not get to see the inside of a church, if the invitation is never made.  The weakness of any group of Christian believers is that it is comprised of sinners.  However, if the opening of the confessional works to bring more followers to the church, the chances are they will have a healthy attitude towards repentance and turning away from sin.  All corners of the world are reached by the Roman Catholic Church, so it is easy to see that if the doors are kept open to an experience of faith inside the walls of many of its churches, they stand to gain plenty of new followers.  The threats come from within the church, by people that choose to not work together to build it, and they would not support anything that is not already a part of the church.  There are threats from outside the church from people who choose to attack the church for its position on controversial issues.  The hope is that opening the confessional would not increase the threat from radicals who attack the church, and help bring more people to see that the church is trying to bring about better relationships with Jesus.  However, it is clear that bringing more people physically into the church would serve to create more opportunities for radicals to attack the church and its leadership once they are inside.  In certain parts of the world, it may even be necessary to provide some type of security to the priests during the confession times.

Marketing Goals and Objectives. If there are a large number of early adopters, it may be necessary to look at different ways to minister to the influx of patrons in the church.  During the initial phase of invitation to the public of this new offering of mercy, it may be necessary to enlist more lay ministers and deacons during normal confession times to ensure the proper execution of the product.  In addition, to ensure the lay ministers and deacons are prepared if needed, training should be implemented before the release of the product to the public, so the influx of new visitors to the church could be effectively handled.  Of course, the objective would be to sustain the numbers of new followers by being able to answer all of the questions and issues that people present with well-prepared ministers.  It would not be the goal of the product offering to monetarily take advantage of the patrons.  Nevertheless, if the new patrons of the church continued to visit the church, it would be incumbent on the ministers to invite them to become full members of the church at the appropriate time.  This discussion would include the idea of stewardship and providing resources of money and time to be able to continue the mission of the church.  After the introductory stage of release is over, the leadership could discuss strategies for effective use of the product as it reaches the maturity stage and the church begins to see less new visitors coming and more repeat visitors that would hopefully want to transition into learning more about the church, and how to get baptized.

Marketing Strategy. Since we are dealing with a large number of non-profit churches that would be asked to implement this strategy, it would be a good idea to lay out the foundation for how it could be financially beneficial or at least be able to cover the costs to take on this new product offering.  The idea would be most effective in larger markets first, because of the larger number of ordained ministers in those areas.  The data collected from the larger markets could then be used to analyze the number of new patrons brought into the individual churches.  The percentages of new patrons compared to total number of patrons could be used to find out if the smaller parishes could offer this new product offering, based on the amount it would cost to prepare for its effective application.  The promotion strategy that could be used, would be the effective use of all the existing social media channels that are operated by the different levels of hierarchy within the church.  From the Pope’s Twitter page, all the way down to the local parishes Facebook page.  All channels, including personal social media pages of faithful Catholics, could be used to promote the offering of this new avenue of mercy being available to all people.

Marketing Implementation.  It would be necessary to begin developing the training tools immediately, because it could take a couple of months of dissemination before the training would get out to all the levels of authority within the church.  The Year of Mercy only continues for another 11 months, so it would be best to begin to start the offer at the beginning of the Easter season in the church, which officially starts on March 27th.  The pressures of church activity during the season of Lent, with the influx of regular penitents with the church, would make it difficult to start the offer during the month of February.  However, this would give the individual churches time to implement the training necessary for the different ministers that could be used to help during this time.  The Roman Catholic Church has an old tradition that has recently come back to prominence with the help of a little nun from Poland, named Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska.  She revived the idea, through the prompting of her conversations with Jesus, of celebrating the eighth day of Easter with a day called “Divine Mercy Sunday”.  So, this would be a great day to begin to offer this new product in select areas around the world.  After researching the best way to implement the product through testing in larger markets first, it could be universally applied to the all of the Roman Catholic Churches in the world.  It may be necessary to bring in new priests and lay ministers for areas that are understaffed, but this could lead to a long term solution to the shortage of priests in certain parts of the world.  It would also be necessary to take the necessary precautions with background checks and training in child protection for any additional staff, but these costs could be easily defrayed by effective new technologies available for patrons to support the church’s efforts.  These technologies could range from new donate buttons on websites to smart tags located outside the confessionals that led you to a mobile-friendly website that could accept your donation.  Of course, the donation and support from patrons would not be compulsory, but rather based on the patron’s ability to pay.

Finally, it goes without saying that this offer would be made to everyone, so it would be necessary to get an initial contribution from the faithful Catholics, to get the promotion started.  This would be necessary for the infrastructure changes needed to accept the new donations.  In addition, it would also be most likely supported by Pope Francis, since it is in support of his call to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  The new efforts in technology would eventually pay for themselves as more technology friendly, younger believers come into the church to experience the mercy of God in a new old-fashioned way.

(March 9th, 2011). New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). Washington DC: The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

 

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