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Media campaigns in Boston, Las Vegas yield nearly 400 professions of faith

BOSTON (BP)–Evangelistic advertising campaigns in Boston and Las Vegas during the summer and fall have resulted in more than 500 professions of faith and thousands of requests for the “Jesus” video. The campaigns were part of the North American Mission Board’s Strategic Focus Cities evangelism and church planting efforts in the two cities.

The Boston campaign, conducted during the summer, resulted in distribution of more than 11,500 copies of the “Jesus” video to callers and about 200 professions of faith. The campaign included commercials on radio and television and subway posters with tear-off response cards.

The broadcast commercials were based on Christ’s statement, “Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst again,” and included the offer of the free video. Respondents were invited to call a toll-free number, which is routed to trained Southern Baptist “telephone encouragers” volunteering from their homes across the country as part of the North American Mission Board’s Evangelism Response Center.

Marc Harrienger, coordinator of the Boston campaign response, said about 8,000 requests for the video were received, and another 3,500 requests have been received through the forms posted in Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trains. Although the subway posters were scheduled only through August, they are still posted in some cars — and about 100 response cards a week are still coming in.

“We are totally, totally thrilled,” Harrienger added. He also said the ratio of non-Christians requesting the video was significantly higher than anticipated, magnifying the impact of the effort.

Individuals receiving the video are given a response sheet with the number of a local church to call if they have further questions. Harrienger told of one call from a woman who said, “I have been crying for an hour after watching this Jesus, who I got to know.”

“She’s a woman who was just coming out of a drug addiction,” Harrienger said.

Bob Moore, city coordinator for the Boston effort, noted another positive response from the video distribution. “We just got a letter from a lady who said she had been thinking about attending Cornerstone Church, one of our churches,” he said. “She got the video in the mail, and decided she was going to visit that Sunday.”

In Las Vegas, personal follow-up visits proved to be the crucial factor in leading people to faith in Christ. More than 1,600 individuals requested a copy of the “Jesus” video over the phone during the fall campaign, which ended in early October. All but about 200 were delivered personally by trained volunteer members of a “[Living] Water Brigade,” along with a bottle of water and other evangelistic materials.

“We had more people accept Christ at the door than accepted Christ over the telephone,” said Harry Watson, director of missions for the Southern Nevada Baptist Association. “Every evening we had professions of faith probably equal to the number of visits being made, because at some homes there were multiple family members who accepted Christ.”

A total of 381 decisions were attributed to the advertising campaign, he said, although many of the decision cards resulted from the “Water Brigade” visits were not counted.

“People would almost jump up and down. They were so excited that somebody brought a video to their house,” Watson said, adding that the association also will benefit from the 240 trained volunteers available for future evangelism efforts as well.

The fall effort was the second campaign conducted this year.

In the spring, Loving Las Vegas rolled out a large advertising campaign aimed at encouraging individuals to look for a “A Church with a Heart” and steering them to the www.lovinglv.com website. More than 90,000 hits were registered on the website during the campaign, and surveys indicated high recognition rates for the campaign theme.

The fall effort built on the positive image with a more evangelistic campaign similar to the Boston effort. Later in the campaign, a new ad featuring the “There is Hope” message contained in a national full-page ad in USA Today was used. Additionally, 54,000 postcards were mailed also offering a free Jesus video to respondents.

Ritche Carney, NAMB’s coordinator for the Las Vegas effort, used the analogy of water in the desert — especially appropriate in Las Vegas — to explain the approach. The first rains often wash away, but after several rains the soil begins to soften to the point where it can be cultivated and seeded, he said. The spring campaign, followed by Vacation Bible School “day camps,” block parties, sports clinics and other ministry efforts during the summer, were all part of the repeated “watering” process.

“People have to become aware that Jesus and the churches in the city love them and care for them. And once they see that, then we’ve broken through the shell [and] have a platform to present the gospel, and they are willing to hear,” he said.

Through the Strategic Focus Cities initiative, NAMB is helping mobilize Southern Baptist volunteers and other resources on reaching the nation’s major cities with the gospel of Christ. The effort began in 2000 with focused efforts in Chicago and Phoenix, and this year the cities were Boston and Las Vegas. Next year the emphasis will be on Seattle and Philadelphia.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson