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Celebrate Jesus 2000 spots going national; churches have opportunity to par

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Mary Lou Retton’ s proud proclamation of “ Jesus Christ — the perfect 10” is already familiar to many residents of Salt Lake City, Atlanta and other areas, but now her message is going national. And local churches, associations and state conventions have the opportunity of a millennium to participate.
The commercial featuring the former gymnast will be included in a national television and radio advertising campaign scheduled for Oct. 4-24, sponsored by the North American Mission Board. It is a critical part of the Southern Baptist agency’ s strategy for Celebrate Jesus 2000, the interdenominational effort to share Christ with and pray for every person in the nation by the end of 2000.
The campaign will reach more than half of all individuals in the country between the ages of 18 and 54 at least twice, said Toby Frost, manager of event evangelism and chairman of NAMB’ s Celebrate Jesus 2000 task force.
More importantly, it will serve as leverage for thousands of churches, associations and state conventions to sponsor complementary efforts — creating a synergy that could result in thousands coming to faith in Christ.
“ Conventional wisdom in media promotion is that a message must be heard or seen at least six times to get through to the audience. Thus, we will be depending on our state, association and church partners to provide an average of four exposures to our message,” Frost said.
Using a military analogy, Frost said the national effort can be compared to the “ air war” that can only be effective if supplemented by the “ ground forces” in churches and associations.
The national advertising creates a climate that “ softens the ground” for evangelism, he said. “ But if it is not accompanied by the Christians going in and taking the land, the place of media is highly overestimated.”
Local participation can include a variety of Celebrate Jesus 2000 promotional materials offered by NAMB, including broadcast and print advertising. The national spots will be tagged with the line, “ A message from Southern Baptists.”
The campaign also will be bolstered by evangelistic events such as block parties, crusades and revivals, along with door-to-door efforts already planned as part of Celebrate Jesus 2000.
“ Just think of the effect of churches putting up Celebrate Jesus 2000 yard signs and banners, as well as distributing bumper stickers for cars to display, and CJ2000 pins for members to wear during the campaign,” Frost said.
The national television advertising will be placed primarily on four cable networks. The strategy was to target both men and women, and an emphasis on news and sports programming was chosen because these programs generally are more effective for advertising in which a viewer is asked to call and make a response.
The two ads chosen for the national campaign are the Mary Lou Retton spot and a spot based on Christ’ s promise, “ Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst again.”
On radio, the full set of Celebrate Jesus 2000 spots will be placed on nationally syndicated programs such as Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura and Daybreak USA.
All of the ads will offer a national toll-free number for callers to receive more information on how to receive Jesus. Those calls will be fielded by NAMB’ s Evangelism Response Center, which allows interested callers to talk with volunteer “ telephone encouragers” throughout the country.
Frost said the fall campaign offers churches an opportunity like no other in history — both because of the synergistic effect of the Celebrate Jesus 2000 efforts and the increased spiritual interest of the Christ’ s 2000th birthday.
“ It’ s up to the churches,” he said. “ But we must not lose this moment. After years of promotion of Celebrate Jesus 2000, this is where the rubber meets the road.”
Celebrate Jesus 2000 promotional materials are available through LifeWay Christian Services, 1-800-233-1123.

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  • James Dotson