Perhaps you've seen the ads on television, but The United Methodist Church is taking its Rethink Church advertising campaign to one of the world’s most trafficked locales – New York City’s Times Square. Here is what the UMC had to say concerning their strategy.
“Times Square is an ideal fit for our Rethink Church campaign,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “You’ll find people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities in Times Square, and we want to tell each of them, ‘There’s a place for you in The United Methodist Church.’”
Rethink Church, the next evolution of The United Methodist Church’s “Open hearts” welcoming and advertising campaign, highlights the many opportunities available within United Methodist churches to engage with the world.
July’s spots will focus on literacy and environmental awareness. The first spot asks, “What if church was a literacy program for homeless children? Would you come?” The second asks, “What if church considered ecology part of theology?”
What do you think? Do these kind of marketing campaigns really work? Will UMC's message resonate with the culture?
Personally I believe the message will resonate with the culture. The world needs to hear and understand the connection between our faith and acts of mercy and justice. Our faith isn't merely a private affair transforming our lives - but it is also an active faith that brings transformation to the world around us. I give the UMC a lot of credit and kudos for putting forward this message.
But let me state two important cautions and caveats. Two things must be true for this campaign message to be truly effective. First, words alone aren't enough. If we aren't truly living out what we say about our faith - then the world can rightly judge our words are merely a product of slick marketing and not much else.
Second, the campaign may bring the unchurched, curious and disenfranchised into our churches - but being cultural relevant isn't enough to make a difference in people's life unless we are churches preaching Christ crucified, risen and seated on the throne. Christ must be the center - not the campaign.