The United Methodist Church (UMC) will spend up to $25 million on advertising efforts in the next four years to help its 35,000 reach out into their communities and raise their identity, according to the president of the 8.2-million-member denominations United Methodist Communications.
"Over the next four years, we will significantly increase opportunities to help United Methodist congregations reach into their communities and raise their identity," said Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, during a press conference on January 28.
Bickerton and some 1,300 other leaders gathered in Houston, Texas for the denominational Healthy Churches event, during which the leaders discussed ways to improve the reach and life of the church.
Bickerton, whose organization is in charge of the Igniting Ministry ad campaign, explained the positive results of the commercials aired between 2001 and 2004. According to research conducted during the campaign period, first-time attendance increased by 9 percent among congregations that lived where the ad was broadcasted.
The new phase of the commercials will begin airing in August on cable and broadcast networks. According to Bickerton, this new phase will encourage congregations to extend visibility and reach.
"Every local church will have access to free, online tools to help them grow," Bickerton said. "We are creating a visibility and awareness of the denomination that will help local churches all across the United States."
"How congregations grow will vary," Bickerton said. "Our experience shows they will certainly grow a new spirit. That is a spirit of welcoming, a spirit of understanding Christs call to for us to love our neighbors as ourselves."