Invite for Advent with different ‘looks’
Different "looks," all tied to the theme of The United Methodist Church's national advertising campaign, will set apart this year's Advent and Christmas invitational resources from United Methodist Communications.
Television advertising, the invitational and worship resources and "an experiential campaign (featuring) a branded truck" are among the ways "we are going to provide support with welcoming," says the Rev. Teresa Angle-Young, manager of seeker advertising and communications at UMCom. The efforts will begin in the fall and continue through Advent.
The Advent/Christmas campaign has "depth," says Jennifer Rodia, chief communications officer, "and it is all designed to work in concert with the agency's efforts to engage unchurched people with a local church."
"Unwrap the true meaning with us this Christmas" is the phrase that will be integrated into the various designs on door hangers, invitational postcards, bulletin covers and slides to use in worship. By offering a variety of designs, says Angle-Young, "We are trying to speak to the feedback we've heard from local churches to try to fit their culture." The variety of resources "makes it almost a done-for-you campaign," she adds.
Integrated with the invitational efforts will be a sermon series with full liturgical support – including recordings of voiced Scripture. The worship staff of Discipleship Ministries is developing the series for "Advent, Christmas and into the Sundays in January to give (churches) something to promote that will bring visitors back," Angle-Young says.
Beginning in September, churches can begin ordering customized invitational resources, such as the door hangers and postcards, from Outreach.com/UMC. A new "selfie stand" will encourage congregants to extend invitations through their own social media outlets. The free resources – sermon series, bulletin covers, worship slides and more – will be available for download from the United Methodist Communications website. Also new there will be a social media calendar.
Invite with cocoa
As it makes its "Countdown to Christmas Tour" to outdoor events in 21 cities in the United States, the "truck will help churches in the areas where it stops to engage seekers, the unchurched or potential visitors," Angle-Young says.
Staffing it in each community will be "church ambassadors, volunteers from local churches who will pass out hot chocolate," adds Rodia.
Although they will not have the visual support of the truck, other congregations will be able to engage in similar outreach at events in their communities using kits available from outreach.com/UMC. Included will be 500 branded sleeves and cups, a container for the hot chocolate and four "staff" t-shirts. A media kit will help churches promote their events and the sweet treats.
With or without the truck, Rodia says, the hot chocolate outreach "will connect (visitors) with churches and raise awareness of churches and ministries."
The Rev. Kathy Noble is editor of Interpreter and Interpreter OnLine.