Why does The United Methodist Church advertise?

A recent advertising campaign encouraged people to discover new friends; a new community with meaningful connections; and a new peaceful, joy-filled outlook on life.
A recent advertising campaign encouraged people to discover new friends; a new community with meaningful connections; and a new peaceful, joy-filled outlook on life.

Advertising has been part of The United Methodist Church’s marketing plan for almost 20 years. Whether seen in a newspaper, on television or on a computer screen, denominational ads build awareness of the church and extend a message of welcome to seekers — individuals who are not committed to a church yet are searching for deeper meaning in life.

United Methodist Communications is dedicated to creating innovative, research-based advertising campaigns that reach out to a world in need of hope. Advertisements invite people to visit RethinkChurch.org so that they can explore their spirituality, learn more about the denomination, sign up for a seeker-focused e-newsletter and search for a nearby United Methodist congregation to connect with a community of faith.

Advertisements are national, regional, local and hyperlocal, and they reach out to a diverse audience.

“Advertising and media have an important role, because we want to make sure the positive perception about the church continues to increase,” said Poonam Patodia, chief marketing officer at United Methodist Communications.

Local church partnerships

United Methodist congregations directly benefit from the denomination’s work to build awareness and seeker interest. As people search for a way to connect to The United Methodist Church, they will likely begin by learning more about the congregation nearest them.

Local churches can take advantage of the heightened familiarity brought about by the advertising campaign by partnering with United Methodist Communications in several ways:

  1. Seekers can visit Find-A-Church.org to discover information about churches in their zip code. Local churches should update their profile so that it contains the latest details about worship times, ministry offerings, website address and contact information. To begin, church leaders can go to the Find-A-Church website, search for their local church, select the church’s profile, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Update Church Information.”
     
  2. Seasonal resources available for Advent, Lent and other seasons on the church and secular calendars carry the national advertising messages. Churches that utilize the resources are making a direct connection between their congregation and the ads that potential visitors have seen on television or the web. A suite of postcards, social media assets, worship service graphics, and signs bolster community outreach efforts. In 2017, the resources were further expanded, enhancing invitational opportunities for churches that chose to embrace the messaging of the campaign.
     
  3. Campaign videos are available for local church use. Videos shown during events and worship services can help attendees to become familiar with the advertising theme and the outreach capabilities of the messages. Incorporating the videos on social media channels makes them sharable — a digital invitation is an easy way for congregants to ask people to visit their church.
     

There are more than 32,000 United Methodist churches in the U.S. that are seeking to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world, and a national advertising campaign is a unified effort to support all of them.

Laura Buchanan is a writer serving in the member communications team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville,Tennessee, USA.This article was originally published April 5, 2017.