From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Study: United Methodist ads encourage church visits

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 20 Feb 2003 15:31:20 -0600

Feb. 20, 2003  News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615)742-54707Nashville,
Tenn.	10-71B{095}

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Barna Research Group Inc. says the United
Methodist Church's U.S. advertising campaign is successfully encouraging
people to visit a local church.

Barna has concluded that people who saw the United Methodist Church's
Igniting Ministry advertisements in 2002 are twice as likely to visit a local
congregation as those who did not. And 46 percent of the people in the target
audience who had seen the ads said they are willing to visit a United
Methodist church, a gain of 10 percentage points over 2001. 

"Being exposed to the advertising translates to greater likelihood to visit a
church," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist
Communications. The agency manages Igniting Ministry, the denomination's
advertising and welcoming program.

TV ads were most viewed, with 63 percent of those surveyed having seen the
advertising on television. The ads run during three periods each year on
national cable networks. Additional placements on television and other media
- newspaper, outdoor and radio - reflect local church participation in the

The report from the Ventura, Calif.,-based Barna reveals that people who see
the advertising get a clearer picture of what United Methodists have to
offer. "Our messages are helping people see our churches as welcoming
communities, open to helping others," Hollon said.
Barna research confirms that Igniting Ministry successfully communicates key
United Methodist characteristics. The study assessed statements about the
church, touching on diverse opinions and beliefs, acceptance, supportive
nature, respect for other religions, and deeper meaning and purpose in life.

"The advertising is working because it communicates the United Methodist
Church's key distinctions," Hollon said.

Seventy percent indicate that the United Methodist Church's messages are
important and believable. The highest ratings of importance were found among
people who feel something is missing from their lives (50 percent), are
experiencing emotional pain or frustration (52 percent), and feel the church
will likely help them find personal fulfillment (49 percent).

The research involved telephone interviews with people identified as
"seekers" and data from 156 test United Methodist churches in the
denomination's five U.S. regions. For test purposes, "seekers" are defined as
people in search of spiritual fulfillment, whether "unchurched," marginally
churched or church attenders.

In addition, 70 percent of pastors of the test churches said their
congregations have "experienced a renewed sense of commitment to welcoming
new people," and 61 percent reported that their members regularly invite
unchurched people to their services.

Igniting Ministry, which premiered in September 2001, uses national cable
network commercials and other means to raise public awareness of the
denomination. The church's 2000 General Conference approved $20 million to
support the campaign.

More information - including details on training sessions, matching grants
and other resources - is available at 

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United Methodist News Service
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