We've become so accustomed in recent years to seeing churches using the methods of the church growth movement and the ideas of people such as Peter Drucker to increase attendance and membership that it may come as a surprise to find out that such wasn't always the case. The following story from Associated Press appeared in The Edmonton Journal, July 20, 1963:
New York (AP)--Are public relations techniques suitable for church use?Yes, all we need are public relations techniques; who needs old-fashioned methods such as relying on the Holy Spirit? While the apostle Paul tried to persuade men (II Corinthians 5:11), he did so while relying on God (II Corinthians 5:7), not on human methods of persuasion.
A 385-page "yes" answer has been written by Rev. Thomas J.M. Burke, director of public relations for Jesuit missions, in a doctoral dissertation, said to be the first one on public relations for religious institutions.
"All religious groups can and should use organized public relations techniques to remove unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding among themselves and between religious groups and society at large," says Father Burke.
In his thesis, Father Burke outlines how all creeds can utilize the elements of planning and continued direction that are essential in a successful public relations campaign.
His view is this:
The basis of public relations is to persuade people. Religious groups aim at persuading people of an ethical truth they think is usable.
So, using techniques highly developed by professional public relations men can enable churches to promote religious and social values in society, communicate better with their own people and further co-operate among denominations.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:7