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Church’s media outreach campaign announces new ads, resources

 


Church’s media outreach campaign announces new ads, resources

Jan. 28, 2005

HOUSTON (UMNS) – The United Methodist Church will expand its campaign to reach those seeking spiritual meaning in their lives with new commercials, training and resources for local churches this fall.

The church will spend up to $25 million on television advertising and related efforts during the next four years, said Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, speaking at a Jan. 28 press conference on the site of the denominational "Healthy Churches" event. More than 1,300 regional church leaders from across the United States are participating in the gathering. The denomination has 8.2 million U.S. members in more than 35,000 congregations.

"Over the next four years, we will significantly increase opportunities to help United Methodist congregations reach into their communities and raise their identity," Bickerton said. The bishop leads the church’s Pittsburgh Area and is president of United Methodist Communications, the church agency responsible for the advertising program.

"What Igniting Ministry does for local churches is help us to tell our stories," said Bishop Warner Brown of Denver. "Not only do we tell others, but we remind ourselves of who we are and who we are becoming as a church." Brown is a member of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, host of the convocation.

"We must be who we say we are: people of faith with open hearts, open minds, open doors," he added.

Beginning in August, new commercials will reach adults, ages 25 to 54, seeking spiritual meaning in life. The ads will air on cable and broadcast networks during three periods each year: before Easter, as children are returning to school in August/September, and in the weeks before Christmas.

From 2001 to 2004, the United Methodist Church’s commercials aired on more than 20 cable and broadcast networks, reaching more than 100 million U.S. households.

Research conducted during the 2000-2004 campaign showed that first-time attendance grew by 19 percent at 160 test churches across the United States. Overall attendance increased by 9 percent in those congregations.

Bickerton said the new phase of the advertising campaign would encourage congregations to connect their welcoming, hospitality and evangelism ministries with the commercials.

"Every local church will have access to free, online tools to help them grow," Bickerton said. "We are creating a visibility and awareness of the denomination that will help local churches all across the United States."

United Methodist Communications is expanding its matching grant program. It provides dollar-for-dollar grants to congregations and clusters of congregations that want to air commercials on TV or radio, show them in movie theaters or display ads on billboards.

The companion Igniting Ministry training program, which trained 33,000 church leaders between 2000 and 2004, will expand. Training will be available on the Internet as well as through on-site events.

"How congregations grow will vary," Bickerton said. "Our experience shows they will certainly grow a new spirit. That is a spirit of welcoming, a spirit of understanding Christ’s call to for us to love our neighbors as ourselves."

United Methodist Communications has entered into a partnership with the Board of Discipleship to provide free advertising materials and training resources for a number of new congregations across the United States.

"Igniting Ministry has added relevance today because it gives churches a way of recognizing and connecting with this important dimension of communicating with people in this time," Brown said. "The churches have to do their part to keep the hospitality going and live the faith of what we are advertising."

Detailed information on the advertising program is available at www.ignitingministry.org.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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