New resources bring ease to meaningful Advent outreach
Advent is one of the most joyous times of the year, but it is also a season during which people search for community and deeper meaning in their lives. This provides a perfect opportunity for churches to reach out with loving invitations of connection and faith.
I sat down with Teresa Angle-Young, director of seeker advertising and communication at United Methodist Communications, to find out what new resources are available for local churches to utilize in their outreach efforts during Advent this year.
What is the theme of the national advertising campaign during Advent?
“Our theme this year is ‘Unwrap the True Meaning of Christmas.’ Just as we’ve done all year, we are using candid footage of children to explore faith, questions, challenges, and the nature of God. Children seem to inherently understand that Christmas isn’t just about gifts and parties. When we asked them about their favorite memories of Christmas, they told us stories about being with family, worshipping together, and celebrating the birth of Jesus.”
How does the national campaign help local churches?
“We are doing a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ for the local church this year in our national advertising campaign by bringing people to church through advertising on television and in digital media on the web.
“Our hope is to create awareness of The United Methodist Church and encourage people to attend a local church during Advent to hear more about the story that is so familiar to many of us: about how God’s heart was revealed to us through the person of Jesus, about the courage of Mary, about how real joy is found through serving others, and about how the church is a safe place of welcome and hospitality.”
Please share some details about the brand new outreach resources available this year.
“I’m really excited about that! We are trying to fully resource the local church to welcome visitors. This year, in addition to bulletin covers, door hangers, invitation cards and other resources church leaders might have seen before, we are also offering a selfie stand; bumper videos to use each week in worship or on Facebook; and a downloadable social media calendar that provides graphics, messages, and everything the local church needs to spread the word about their worship opportunities. We have done the social media for you!
“We also have PowerPoint slides, lectionary-based sermon starters, and a January sermon series from Discipleship Ministries to get new people back in church after Christmas. We’ll even be running a national media campaign in January to help with that!
“Resources are available for download at no cost, and in late September, churches will have an opportunity to use a $400 promo code towards their order of all of our print resources.”
As a former local church pastor, which resources would have been most helpful?
“I love the bumper videos, and even if a church doesn’t use media in worship, they can still put these great videos out on social media. I also love the selfie stand, which is a great way for churches to have fun during the holidays. I would put that stand out every Sunday during Advent, take pictures of young and old, and post them on social media and the church website to build excitement.
“And maybe the most exciting resource is the January sermon series from Discipleship Ministries. We are great at getting new people into church during Christmas, but it’s getting them back in January that is hard. As a pastor I remember how tired I was after the holidays! Having a ‘done-for-you’ sermon series with videos, a social media strategy and resources is amazing. We even have a great bulletin insert churches can use during Advent to make sure visitors know there is something wonderful happening in January!”
Will there be any instruction about how to use the resources?
“Yes! There is a ‘how to’ instruction sheet in the downloadable resources, and I will also be doing a webinar along with our minister of online engagement, the Rev. Ryan Dunn, to talk to church leaders about how to use the resources. It will be on September 26 at 11 a.m. Central Time and a recording will be available to view afterwards. We’ll be sharing more information about registration for this event soon.
“We want to make this the best and easiest Advent ever for our United Methodist brothers and sisters!”
Why did you feel it was important to offer these new resources?
“As an Elder, I know how busy a pastor is. It can be overwhelming, and not every church has a communications staff or a social media director. I also know that a pastor’s heart is an evangelist’s heart, and we all want to reach people for Christ. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited to come to United Methodist Communications…to be able to really help the overworked, busy pastor in the local church do evangelism effectively.”
What are your hopes for the Advent campaign?
“My hope is the same for this campaign as it has always been for me as a clergy…I am passionate about facilitating an encounter with the living Christ in worship, in service, and in my life.
“My fervent hope and prayer is that these resources will help the local church do just that — help people meet Christ. Everything I do is just an iteration of that one hope. May God’s love be lifted up this Advent and always!”
*Laura Buchanan is a PR Specialist at United Methodist Communications.