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7/3/97 They want to give you hope if T-Rex were to devour you

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (BP)–“If the T-Rex were to have you for an appetizer tonight, are you sure you’d go to heaven?”
The question greeted Memorial Day weekend movie-goers waiting to watch the “Jurassic Park” sequel, “The Lost World,” showing at the Campbell 16 Cini in Springfield, Mo.
“The idea is that if we want people in church, we need to meet people where they are,” said Hunter Sherman, pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Springfield. Bellview is sponsoring a summer ad campaign aimed at reaching people who see movies in the four largest theaters inside the Campbell 16.
“A lot of people in this area used to go to church, but stopped for one reason or another,” said Sherman, who also is a professor at Baptist Bible College in Springfield. “The other goal is to get people interested in church who have never been. This gets their attention because it might not fit their image of church.”
Bellview member Keith Locke dreamed up the theater ad idea, and the proposal drew 100 percent support from voting church members.
“When people go to the theater, they are there to look at a screen,” said Locke, a self-employed graphic artist who designs the ads. “We have their attention. You’ve got stuff up there like stupid trivia, and people read them. They’re going there to get entertained anyway, so why not entertain and share a message, too?”
Audiences have noticed.
Locke said he went to the movies twice over the weekend to observe audience response to the ads. Some drew more laughter and comments than others. One that stood out was: “Even Dennis Rodman could get saved and God wouldn’t make him change his hair color … go figure.” Rodman is a professional basketball player known for his outrageous appearance and behavior.
“It makes it more memorable for people to laugh,” Locke said. “It exposes a high volume of people to a Baptist church that’s not afraid not to be so ‘stuffed-shirt-like.'”
Each attention-getter line is followed by the Bellview Baptist Church logo and “God’s totally free salvation. For more information or just for the sake of curiosity, call 833-2748.”
Advertising costs to the church, where attendance averages about 200 people on Sunday, are minimal compared to a billboard campaign members originally had considered. The cost to run the theater ads from Memorial Day to Labor Day will run nearly $2,000, compared to a billboard campaign that would have cost 10 times more, Locke said.

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  • Stacey Hamby