Many churches have limited advertising resources. Also, many congregations would like to be in partnership with other churches in their area. Combine forces to advertise effectively and strengthen local churches at the same time.
Evangelism through modern media
Most churches have newsletters, websites and email. These are inexpensive ways to connect with people, but their audience is often limited to the church community. Some churches are turning to Facebook and Google to target external audiences and specific demographics.
Gathering the United Methodists
To make a collaborative advertising campaign happen, first approach your district superintendent with the idea. Then go to other congregations in the area to present the idea of sharing the cost and fruit of local advertising. Depending on your setting, two to 20 churches could participate. Some congregations will not have the means or the people to participate. Regardless of their ability to pay, consider including them as part of your partnership.
Next, form a group of people to explore the different advertising opportunities in the area. Is there a local mall? Are billboards available? Does a restaurant include ads in its menu? Be willing to get prices, demographics and coverage areas and learn exactly what they would need to produce your ad.
Do you need help with ideas and themes for ad creation?
United Methodist Communications provides free customizable advertising resources for the Advent and Lenten seasons.
In addition, there are a number of grants available for local churches to support their communications and outreach efforts. New church starts can apply for a grant to purchase promotional items to help increase awareness in the community. Churches that do not currently have a website can receive funds to help them create an online presence. You may also request a free demographic report to learn who your neighbors and how to reach out to them more effectively.
Caution and cash
Once your church has gathered information about available media, determine which path will yield the greatest results. Don't be fooled by statistics the ad salesperson offers. They typically are not church specific. Also, some companies will not want to allow church (or religious) ads. Don't give up! With a little persistence and prayer, the venues likely will allow your ads.
Some conferences offer grants for projects that include advertising in the overall budget. You also might get some funding from your conference's congregational development team, especially since the request will be coming from several churches working together.
Once you determine where, what and when to advertise, establish a way to evaluate the results. Ask newcomers how they learned about your church. Keep the names and statistics to share with the other congregations. United Methodist Communications offers a great tool for evaluation. Check it out at Step 5: Evaluation & Adjustment.
Celebrate the success of your campaign with a special worship service or a dinner and invite all of the churches to participate. Highlight each church's contribution to the campaign and its mission. Celebrate your oneness in Jesus Christ and the value of coming together.