I have always struggled with “marketing” the church.  We usually market “products”, so what product is a church producing that is to be marketed?

It seems to me that the church is, itself, the product God is producing.
The gospel calls people to turn from sin and to turn to Christ and follow him.
A church is a group of people who have responded to that invitation.  Our individual lives are being changed, and we connect to other people that find themselves in that process, and we encourage each other as we make our way together through this ‘unnatural’ (read “supernatural”) process.

The church itself is the product.
Not the building.  Not the ministries performed in the building.
The “people” – both as individuals and as an interconnected body, a little “society” as it were – that is the product God is producing.

Does one market this or simply live it out?  I guess you can “market” the congregation (the people).  But it seems to me that marketing shows you the best side, the positive, the upbeat.  Marketing is designed to take the photos in just the right way to make things as attractive as possible. 
Which means you have to conceal, or at least minimize, the weaknesses and the blemishes. 

But isn’t this the opposite of what being a Christian is all about?  Isn’t this the opposite of the biblical understanding of the church?

Is the church only “the beautiful people”?  Is everything always sunshine and flowers, joy and glory and success?  Or is our congregation full of normal people wrestling with the difficulties of life and the temptations of sin – often falling and often failing, in need of both rebuke and encouragement and care as we struggle and wrestle and argue our way through life?

But marketing the ugly side violates the purpose of marketing – doesn’t it?

If you market both, then you are marketing the ordinary.  Who needs “the ordinary”? 

Isn’t the church supposed to be the result of the supernatural?  Isn’t that what we want to market?  My personal experience is that every encounter I’ve ever had with ministries that have “marketed” themselves as some sort of extraordinary encounter with the divine, some sort of miraculous heavenly experience, has always proved to be at the very least a disappointment and at very worst an outright lie.

If the gospel is changing hearts, and if those changed (better, I think, to say changing) people are encouraging one another as a body of people – they are the product and the marketing of it.  The people are the product – and the marketing.
If our people are a bad advertisement – then what is there to market?
If we are a good advertisement – what more marketing do we need?