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Spirit Guides: A Segmentation of the Black Church


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An historical cultural segmentation by Footsteps to bring to light the variations of places of worship within the African American community

Published in: News & Politics, Spiritual
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Spirit Guides: A Segmentation of the Black Church

  1. 1. Spirit Guides A Segmentation of the Black Church
  2. 2. F O O T S T E P S Religion and African America Survey after survey notes the high level of religiosity expressed by African Americans Because the Black Church has been and remains such an important influence on AA life, various brands, services and causes have tried to market to African Americans through the Black Church
  3. 3. F O O T S T E P S But there is no single Black Church Just as with African Americans in general there are a number of aspects to what is referred to as the Black Church Each has its own emphasis and orientation
  4. 4. F O O T S T E P S Marketing to the Black Church Rather than brands, services and causes treating the Black Church as monolithic, more appropriately these marketers should match their message with those most likely to receive it • Using this approach, it may be fruitful to think of the Black Church as a type of medium and to distinguish among its various channels • But first let’s explore some African American religious demographics
  5. 5. F O O T S T E P S AA Religious Context
  6. 6. F O O T S T E P S Religious Composition: AA compared to total US US Total Pop % • Evangelical Protestant: 26% • Catholic: 24% • Mainline Protestant: 18% • Historically Black Protestant: 7% • Unaffiliated 16% African American Index • Evangelical Protestant: 58 • Catholic: 21 • Mainline Protestant: 22 • Historically Black Protestant: 842 • Unaffiliated 75
  7. 7. F O O T S T E P S % Breakdown for Historically Black Churches Historically Black Churches 59% Baptist 40% Methodist 5% Pentecostal 6% Other 8%
  8. 8. F O O T S T E P S AA Data Skews  AA men are more like to be unaffiliated church members compared to AA women (16% vs. 9%)  Younger AA’s are more likely than older AA’s to be unaffiliated (19% vs. 7%)  AA college grads (compared to total AA’s) are more likely to be members of mainline Protestant churches (9% vs. 4%)  More Southern AA’s are members of historically black churches (64%) and more Western AA’s tend to be Catholic (11%)
  9. 9. F O O T S T E P S Historical Perspective: The Form of AA worship  1800’s/early 1900’s: AA’s went to black Baptist churches in the South and mainline Protestant and Baptist churches in the North  The Great Migration--1920’s/1960’s: AA’s created Storefront churches in the Northeast/Midwest which were often non- denomination/Pentecostal  The Return to the South--1970’s to now: The birth of African American neo-Pentecostalism -- the decline of mainstream church attendance and the rise of the mega church
  10. 10. F O O T S T E P S Segmenting the Black Church While African Americans are members of every religious denomination in this country, what may be more distinguishing than denomination for the purposes of developing marketing targets is the form of how they worship
  11. 11. F O O T S T E P S Spirit Guides: Mega Churches Traditional Black Churches Storefront Churches
  12. 12. F O O T S T E P S Traditional Black Churches: Saving the Race
  13. 13. F O O T S T E P S Traditional Black Churches Traditional black churches have long been associated with a theology of uplift From the beginning, during Abolitionist times and through the Civil Rights era, this church has had a social activist mission This church has preached a gospel of group progress through the spirit
  14. 14. F O O T S T E P S Storefront Churches: Nurturing Connections
  15. 15. F O O T S T E P S Storefront Churches These churches are an urban North phenomena They were started by Southern migrants who were looking for a more homey and familial kind of worship, much like what they had back home This church tended to be more interested in feeling and expressing the spirit and nurturing shared communal and familial ties rather than in uplifting the race
  16. 16. F O O T S T E P S Mega Churches: Personal Uplift
  17. 17. F O O T S T E P S Mega Churches In part, as a reaction to the 1960’s/ 1970’s emphasis on a social activist agenda, African American neo-Pentecostalism struck a chord among some who felt that their individual spiritual development needed more nurturing While Mega Churches are said to be those with over 2,000 parishioners, a growing number of smaller churches are following in their spiritual path Some disciples of Mega Church ministers Some currently growing into Mega Church status
  18. 18. F O O T S T E P S Neo-Pentecostalism A mix of spirit-filled worship and a philosophy of black empowerment through personal efforts In the past two decades, over 1/3 of mainline black churches (Baptist and Methodist) have embraced neo-Pentecostalism and nearly all AA mega churches have as well
  19. 19. F O O T S T E P S A difference in emphasis Social Activist Minister wants to… Transform the system to help raise up the race Their churches tend to be more liberal Neo-Pentecostalism Minister wants to… Transform the person so that they might rise up Their churches tend to lean conservatively Store-front Minister wants to… Nurture their families so that they survive in a hostile environment Their churches tend to be more apolitical
  20. 20. F O O T S T E P S Summary Perspective  This three-part church segmentation provides a classic African American profile that frames the double consciousness reality of African Americans worshipers and their church  The Mindsets are real and a true descriptions of the psychology of African Americans But for marketing purposes the Church form needs to be dimensionalized and placed in context so that their relevancy to brands, services, and causes can be unearthed
  21. 21. F O O T S T E P S What is… Double Consciousness W.E.B. DuBois: African American Sociologist/Philosopher (co-founder of the NAACP) African Americans understand that we are seen as group members in America but amongst ourselves we are judged as individuals This creates identity issues to be reconciled
  22. 22. F O O T S T E P S Reconciling the conflict Double consciousness may seem to be a duality but in real life the range of responses (or better said: reconciliations) often plays itself out in a 3- part perspective much like Hegel’s thesis, antithesis, synthesis Here we refer to the segmentation of the Black Church as the Trinity Consciousness
  23. 23. F O O T S T E P S The Trinity Consciousness
  24. 24. F O O T S T E P S Storefront Churches  Be around those who will identify with your common plight and provide a like-minded support group for your survival, growth, and development  Live insularly within the black community
  25. 25. F O O T S T E P S Traditional Black Churches  Prove oneself in terms of life-long opportunities by providing a support group by which to allow you to extend your talents and dreams  Achievers who engage with the general market and accept the struggle with its frustrations and rewards
  26. 26. F O O T S T E P S Mega Churches  Turn to one’s community for one’s emotional relevancy while embracing the search outward for new opportunities in the general market’s community to explore talents  Individually-oriented and community-focused, directly connected to the ways of the bible, blend of emotional and mental pathways
  27. 27. F O O T S T E P S Church Resolution of DC Storefront Focusing inward Traditional Extending out Mega Living in and out
  28. 28. F O O T S T E P S Marketing to the Trinity Consciousness
  29. 29. F O O T S T E P S Traditional Black Churches: Badge Products
  30. 30. F O O T S T E P S Badge Products Those drawn to Traditional Black Churches are likely to be drawn towards products and services that affirm who they are and their place in society
  31. 31. F O O T S T E P S Storefront Churches: Staple Products
  32. 32. F O O T S T E P S Staple Products Patrons of Storefront Churches are likely to be attractive to products and services that are home-oriented: anything that has to do with nurturing the family and taking care of their basic needs
  33. 33. F O O T S T E P S Mega Churches: Products for the Spirit
  34. 34. F O O T S T E P S Products for the Spirit Those who attend a Mega Church are ripe candidates for products/services that make their spirit feel better and provide them with a sense of uplift and personal elevation
  35. 35. F O O T S T E P S Spirit Guides Church Resolution of DC Categories TC Storefront Focusing inward Staple Affiliation Traditional Extending out Badge Affirmation Mega Living in and out Spirit Elevation
  36. 36. F O O T S T E P S Products and Approaches By applying the Trinity Consciousness the same product/service can be approached appropriately amongst all by tailoring the message to a church’s unique atmospherics Traditional Black Churches: Affirmation Storefront Churches: Affiliation Mega Churches: Elevation