April 12, 2006
Religion & Niche Marketing
Posted by Elizabeth Brown

An evangelical church in Denver is using a unique name as a way of marketing itself to a particular niche audience.  The church is called the Scum of the Earth Church.  Yes, it is a real church, not a joke.

The church is upfront about the marketing goals behind its unusual name.  The church's website notes:

It doesn't sound like a church name ... on purpose. We really want to connect with people who have no interest in "church" by society's definition. There are plenty of churches for "normal people" and we think we have a unique calling to reach out to our otherwise unreached friends. Our name is integral to that process. Whether outcast by society (e.g., punks, skaters, ravers, homeless people...) or by the church itself, many who come can identify with the name "Scum of the Earth" since they have been previously treated as such.

More important to us, however, the name implies that being people of faith does not mean we are better than anyone else. We know many non-Christians who think Christians are out to cast judgment on them. Our name makes it clear that we aren't about that. We are just aware of our need for God, as Scum of the Earth. Fortunately, God never sees us like that! But the name is humble and we like that. --Chris Baker

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. (1 Corinthians 4:11-13)

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Comments (1)

1. Posted by Christine on April 12, 2006 @ 16:28 | Permalink

We attended this kind of church in Houston, called Mercy Street (http://www.mercystreet.org/). A lot of people have had bad church experiences from their youth that turn them off of religion altogether, and the mission here was to get around that initial negative reaction to "churchy" things. They ran ads in the alternative newspaper with a picture of Mary that said "She was young, poor, unmarried and pregnant. She would have been welcome here." Another had a picture of Jesus that said "He was thirty, lived with his parents, and a rebel. He would have fit in here." It's a different way to "do" church -- no one dresses up, people next to you may live in a halfway house, you hear stories out of your comfort zone -- but we loved it.

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