Ad campaigns invite people to church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shrinking mainline Protestant denominations are turning to marketing to help stem decades of membership losses and stay afloat.

The United Methodist Church recently unveiled a $20 million rebranding effort aimed at attracting younger members to the large but diminishing Protestant group. The new ads will appear over the next four years as part of the denomination's "Rethink Church" campaign.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has invested nearly $1.2 million over the past two years launching a similar branding effort based on the theme, "God's Work, Our Hands."

The denominations are trying to bounce back from losses that began in the mid-1960s.

Read it alll/a>.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchMedia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterian

Posted May 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. The young fogey wrote:

I’d bet you a cargo container full of 1930 gold sovereigns it won’t work.

High-church libertarian curmudgeon

May 28, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
2. Ross Gill wrote:

From what I’ve read and witnessed, growing churches tend to attract people by word of mouth and not by expensive ad campaigns.  The money would be better spent on planting the kinds of churches where people’s lives are changed by the good news of Christ.

May 28, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
3. chips wrote:

I think it might be helpful for the ACNA (because most people have never heard of it) on certain cable channels - ie golf; fox news; the history channel; the food network. However, I do think that local newspaper/neighborhood newsletter/direct mail to people moving into the neighborhood would be more effective.
The ACNA has several groups to target:
1) disaffected current TEC members (especially those who are moving and needing a new church home)
2) former TEC members
3) disaffected members of the Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Catholic churches (divorced Catholics cannot receive communion)
4) those who do not have a church background or who had one growing up but now have a wife/husband and kids and are looking to return
Marketing may seem crass for a church but with a large marketplace to choose from and a very mobile population - it may be necessary.

May 28, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
4. Jim the Puritan wrote:

All successful churches “market.”  The marketing campaign is laid out in the Bible and is called the “Great Commission.”  Many churches don’t know about it, however, or don’t believe in the campaign’s Message.  That’s the core problem.

May 28, 7:38 pm | [comment link]
5. John316 wrote:

When our church advertises locally we see a 10% increase in attendance.  Three things will help retain the visitors and those returning after a hiatus.
1)  A sermon that is worth getting up on Sunday morning and making the drive.
2)  A vibrant children’s ministry.  McDonald’s, Disney, etc. figured out in the 50’s that the kids bring their parents (and the parents bring the money).
3)  Continued and regular use of modern communications to spread the word.  It worked in Jesus’ day, it works today.  You can’t just do it once and then go back to the old ways.

May 28, 10:46 pm | [comment link]
6. The_Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

I don’t know if I agree totally with Evangelism through Sloganism. It just brings back memories of the ‘Decade of Evangelism’ and other fads.

May 28, 10:54 pm | [comment link]
7. Daniel wrote:

The UMC is a zombie church.  The hierarchy just does not know it yet.  Take a look at their web site ( and you rarely if ever see anything about salvation.  It’s all about the works; be a good little socialist, praise God that Obabma was elected, and don’t you ever forget to pay all your apportionments.  The quality of UMC clergy is awful these days, their theological and preaching skills are declining at a rapid rate.  A graduate from the flagship Duke seminary can get a M. Div. these days without ever having to take any Greek or Hebrew.

I will, however, give the UMC clergy and theocrats credit for running a much better stealth campaign to take over the denomination than that waged by TEC.  In the UMC there have been a few skirmishes by orthodox laity and clergy to prevent the slide into the abyss, but they were pretty much marginalized at the last General Conference with no internecine bloodshed like we see in the Anglican Communion.

I lament that I spent 20+ years of my adult life in the UMC before I finally woke up to the fact that the denomination is lost.  Now, if I only could find an orthodox Anglican group where the clergy and bishops don’t act like Levitical royalty and treat the laity with disdain and disregard.

May 28, 11:08 pm | [comment link]
8. sophy0075 wrote:

Unless and until mainstream Protestant churches put Jesus back into their philosophy/raison d’etre, they will continue to shrink. There is simply no reason why “church” deserves their focus instead of many other clubs:
* People can support social programs, such as the Millennium Development Goals, through Kiwanis, Lions, Junior League, fraternities, sororities, and other organizations that don’t require them to awaken early on a Sunday morning.
* If they are “morning people,” using Sunday morning to coach children’s sports teams or otherwise interact with their families offers a better way to improve intra-family relationships than churches that deny Jesus. 
* Not only that, but given the lack of diversity in most churches (including, unfortunately, many that do preach “Jesus divine and risen”), people can better satisfy their desire to interact with other races and ethnicities through other organizations.

May 29, 1:08 am | [comment link]
9. Timothy wrote:

A Methodist congregation is holding a block party in downtown Little Rock. They took out a 1/4 page ad in the local free paper read by the younger music/art set.

May 29, 12:10 pm | [comment link]
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