Rethink Church 101
As the next evolution of the "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." welcoming and advertising campaign, RETHINK CHURCH seeks to engage our Christian roots and demonstrate to the world that faith in Christ is active and that church is not an event, but rather a way of life. The campaign aims to spark a global conversation around the rhetorical question, "What if church were a verb?
The RETHINK CHURCH campaign launched on May 6, 2009. The campaign goal is sweeping and ambitious — to invite the church and those unchurched who seek spiritual fulfillment, to become more outwardly focused and engaged in the world. The campaign seeks to offer the church, not as a place to come to and stay within, but as a base of operation for expressing faith by moving out into communities and around the globe to become part of God's plan for world transformation. The grand hope is to spark a global conversation about what it means to live as a person of faith, a disciple of Jesus Christ, in the 21st century. If the campaign is successful, it will be the catalyst for a radical return to understanding of what the gospel means to us today.
The 2008 General Conference approved the campaign, representing a significant investment by the church's leadership in awareness of the denomination. It makes The United Methodist Church a rarity among mainline Protestant denominations in its ongoing commitment to public communications ministry.
The campaign consists of major media and "new media" advertising, supported heavily bya dynamic Web presence, and myriad opportunities for local-congregation involvement. The campaign is designed to deliver 95 million media impressions over a four-year period.
"Rethink Church" messages have appeared in traditional media outlets such as television, radio, magazines and billboards. The theme appears across a range of online and other new media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The campaign employs creative tactics such as mobile and search engine marketing through Google and Yahoo.
The advertising campaign ran in the United States in year one, a limited scope necessary to ensure quality launch and implementation. The global advertising phase has already begun in collaboration with Imagine No Malaria and Change the World. Global advertising of the Rethink Church message will continue through years two through four. The advertisements urge audiences to visit an interactive, seeker-targeted website that reframes church as a verb.
The seeker site, RethinkChurch.org, provides UMC members with multimedia outlets to discuss how their churches are rethinking service, while providing a dynamic way for seekers to find local church and service events in their community. Most importantly, the site provides visitors with the opportunity to explore church as a 365-day active experience, revealing the myriad paths that lead to and from Sunday worship — all paths that lead seekers into spiritual interaction and faith discovery. It demonstrates how United Methodists are engaged in the world around us, and invites seekers to participate in the United Methodist mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Key to RethinkChurch.org is the Find-A-Church feature, which allows visitors to search for a local United Methodist congregation and to view that congregation's self-created profile. Find-A-Church profiles can be updated at any time by church leaders, and allow churches to feature local church program information, events, contact information and more. Update your church's profile now.
Campaign: Audiences and Message
The primary audience for the campaign is seekers — those who are either outside a faith community or dissatisfied with their current one, and are looking for a different spiritual experience.
Research shows young adults are predisposed against mainline denominations. While the primary target is 18–35 years old, the message is relevant for audiences both younger and older.
RETHINK CHURCH is a message that challenges not only seekers, but the church as a whole. The goal is to encourage a global spiritual dialogue both within and outside the church. The campaign seeks to redefine the church experience as one that extends beyond our doors and seeks to transform the world. People seeking a church community can become involved at various entry level — many of them non-traditional — such as volunteering with groups outside the church building and even through making online connections.
At the same time, the campaign looks to connect with the people in the pews of The United Methodist Church. It calls us to see our local church in a much broader way — not solely as a building in which we worship, but as a conduit into our communities through which we may live out our faith by touching people's lives. As the awareness created by the campaign draws seekers to congregations, local churches have an opportunity to show by doing, what rethinking church looks like.
Campaign: Theological Foundation
RETHINK CHURCH is a call to refocus our ecclesiology, to ask the question, "What has God called The United Methodist Church to be in the 21st century?" and calls us to refocus our ecclesiology on the following: to see church in a way closely aligned with scripture, to be sent into the world, and to be more faithful to the tradition of John Wesley who believed the world was his parish. Read more about the campaign's theological foundation.
Campaign: Relationship to the Four Areas of Focus
The RETHINK CHURCH campaign supports the four areas of focus that have become a growing source of energy across The United Methodist Church. Growing congregations, becoming leaders in the world, addressing poverty and fighting disease are ways in which we may actively live out our faith and demonstrate to seekers that we are "rethinking church." The four areas of focus present ways for local churches and beyond to answer God's call by igniting an authentic Christian movement in the Wesleyan tradition... unbound, outbound and active. Read more about the four areas of focus.