Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Advertisements Old Example of New Trend
(Maine churches turn to advertising to get out word about God)
Dover NH Foster's Daily Democrat 5Jul00 N6
PORTLAND, MAINE -- Maine's traditional religions are finding that
preaching from the pulpit isn't enough. Churches and denominations
are increasingly turning to mailings, TV and billboards to attract
new members and gain name recognition that is only reserved for the
famous. The Church of the Nazarene in Portland publicized its
services atop ABC Taxi cabs this spring. Portland's Clark Memorial
United Methodist Church sent out coupons bearing the slogan, "Big
enough to serve you: Small enough to know you!". These were good for
a free cookbook to anyone bringing them to Sunday service.
Clark Memorial's cookbook coupons were less than a hit . "No one showed up
to claim one," said Rev. Thomas Merrill. A mailing that invited 800
residents to a free Saturday breakfast also failed to draw crowds. "We were
not overrun with people - 12 to 20 as I recall," said Merrill. Yet, he may
try again. "If direct mail can somehow demonstrate to the community that we
as the church are good neighbors, and that what we have to offer may be
valuable sometime to a few of our neighbors, then I think it is worth a
hundred bucks a year."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has produced
professionally run ads on network television for years. Late-night TV
watchers may be familiar with public service type announcements promoting
the benefits of family, communication and marriage. They offer a phone
number to receive a free Book of Mormon.
Timothy Doot is the vice president of Bonneville Communicatons, a Salt
Lake City based advertising agency that produces the commercials. "Paid
media is a call to action," Doot said.
Traditionally churches have limited their advertising to the radio and
religious publications. But times are changing. The Rev. Robert Gustavson
of Emmaus Lutheran Church in Falmouth said, "There has been an encouragement
by our national (denomination) to try to advertise."
Gustavson's church along with a half-dozen other Lutheran congregations
raised $5,000 for television ads during Lent. The Evangelical Lutheran
Church of America put up another $5,000 and prepared their own 30-second
"With all these advertisements by the churches, the intent is to get
people to go to church - primarily your church, but also to go to church in
general," Gustavson said. The United Methodist Church recently agreed to
spend about $20 million on television commercials that will run over the
next four years.
With all of these attempts to keep up with the growing competition among
churches, one belief is held in common. The intent is to get people to go