Satan has another message for you: Don’t go to Bay Area Fellowship.
Employing a rather offbeat tactic to draw in people, the Texas megachurch placed a billboard ad on the side of the highway in efforts to get people thinking.
“The goal of the billboard was to start a conversation in our city,” said Bryan Fiscus, the media director at Bay Area Fellowship to The Christian Post. “This is the case for most of the advertising we do.”
Inspired by Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv, who created the “Satan Hates Life” billboard campaign with messages from “Satan” like “LifeChurch.tv is killing me” and “LifeChurch.tv makes me sick,” BAF wanted to employ a similar advertising method.
“The reason the billboard is addressed Satan is because we believe that there is ‘really’ a spiritual enemy out there that does not want people in God’s house,” Fiscus told CP. “When people get out of bed on Sunday morning and it seems like a world of excuses or problems arise, we want people to push through those and go to church.”
Lead pastor of the Corpus Christi church, Bil Cornelius, stated to KZTV10, “We put it up the sign to get people … [realizing] that there’s a spiritual enemy that wants to keep me away from church and so that way they’ll push back and say, 'wait a minute, if the devil doesn’t want me in church, then I need to go to church' and that’s exactly why we did it.”
The purpose of the original “Satan” billboards created by LifeChurch.tv gave off a similar intent, providing people with a literal sign from the enemy to grab their attention and get them thinking.
Response to the ads have been mixed, relayed Fiscus. “Some people love it, some people hate it, but everyone has an opinion. We like that.”
Some believers even called the local newsroom assuming that it was an ad designed against the fellowship, only to later find out that the billboard was actually paid for by the church.
Bay Area Fellowship has been implementing creative techniques to spread the message of the gospel since its inception in 1998.
According to the ministry’s site, Cornelius has been called “to create a movement that is reaching into the lives of the lost and unchurched of the next generation and beyond.”
Just last year the church gave away over 4.5 million in cash and prizes during their Easter service. Some of the giveaways included flat-screen televisions, Fender guitars, bedroom sets, and even used Audi’s and BMW’s.
The prizes were meant to serve as a metaphor for the pastor’s Easter message, highlighting the ultimate giveaway – heaven – paid for by Jesus Christ.
But many criticized the event as promoting consumerism or bribing people with attendance incentives.
“We know it’s unconventional,” Cornelius told Reporter News concerning the giveaway. “We know some people of faith aren’t going to agree with it.”
Nonetheless the ministry reported growth by 1,000 people due to the event, and continue to still use out of the ordinary means to attract nonbelievers to Christ.
BAF is currently hosting casting calls during its weekend services for the MTV reality show “Made,” a self-improvement series that follows people 25 to 50 years old who have a goal to be transformed into a new role.
Asked if all of the innovative tools employed by BAF could actually be detracting from the central message of the gospel, Fiscus responded to CP, “Bay Area Fellowship has always looked at creative ways to stay in the conversation of those who don’t know the Lord or those who have strayed away from Him.
“We don’t believe these promotions distract from the gospel message. When someone hears about something we are doing and chooses to visit our church, they hear the life changing story of the gospel and are offered a chance to accept Christ at every service.”
From the beginning, the church has offered the plan of salvation at every weekend service, explained Fiscus.
And more than 12 years later, membership has continued to grow well into the thousands, with seven campuses and over 8,000 people. Outreach Magazine called it one of the Top 100 fastest-growing churches.
Through the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar and The Church Channel, millions outside of Texas can also hear the message of salvation on television and be part of the growth.
Bay Area Fellowship will not be participating in any giveaways this April. Instead, Fiscus reported to CP that they would be doing a very different type of Easter this year.
They will be studying the “Historical and Scientific Evidence of Easter.”
The new series begins April 21.