Religious services are a form of marketing. What else would you call being held captive to a rehearsed one-hour message repeated once a week, every week, week after week after week? It's a particularly productive form of marketing — rich, experiential, and communal. It's much more powerful than a website banner ad that your retina can filter out before reaching your brain, or a TV commercial you can make disappear with TIVO. You have to sit there and listen. The message is simple: Be charitable, both to your religious institution and to humanity in general. And it works.
If you don't like the word marketing, then call it solicitation, or donor cultivation, or major gift development. Any way you slice it, it's a form of fundraising.
Discuss. More thoughts later this week.