Tucked into our entertainment center somewhere is a digital television antenna we purchased a few years ago, probably to watch network coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs, or maybe to watch the Olympics. We haven’t subscribed to a cable television carrier in years. We get our on-screen entertainment through Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime and Apple. The upshot of this is that we rarely have to deal with commercials.
I’ve also stopped listening to commercial radio because I find disc jockeys generally obnoxious and commercials jolting and disruptive.
I only check FaceBook when my phone shows me a notification. I delve in far enough to read and occasionally respond, and then I leave the app. I use Twitter mostly the same way. I scroll swiftly through Instagram, and I have no idea how or why to use Snapchat.
I don’t subscribe to a newspaper because I discovered in Atlanta how little time I had to commit to reading it and how quickly the papers piled up.
I am a difficult consumer to reach with advertisement. I’m of a generation that is renowned for our skepticism of publicity and advertisement, anyway. I find out about things primarily by word of mouth, and occasionally from an article or interview on NPR.
That also means I’m pretty abysmally equipped to produce ideas that will help publicize items related to our church. My best advice to folks is, “Go tell your friends this is happening.”
Of course, that seemed to work pretty well for Jesus. He didn’t have a shiny advertising campaign to promote him. In fact, he often went so far as to warn folks not to tell people about him. Maybe that’s because the first time he tried self-promotion (“today, the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”), his neighbors tried to throw him off a cliff.
But in the end, people did talk about him, and by the end of his very short ministerial tenure, he was drawing crowds of thousands.
All that by word-of-mouth publicity.
I’m pretty convinced that word-of-mouth is still the best form of publicity. It’s genuine and interactive. It builds relationship, which is an enormous part of what the Church is about anyway. But it depends on you. It relies on your willingness and enthusiasm to share about our worship, our study, our Fall Fete, the possibility of a Confirmation Class, Charge Conference, District Conference, our friends and neighbors who need prayer, the missional work we support with our gifts and our hands. You could tell people about any or all of that. I assume that, if you’re enthusiastic and informed about it, you will.
I also assume, then, that if you’re not telling folks about it, you’re not enthusiastic and informed.
I’m sure there are things we can do to better inform you. I’m not sure what we might do to enthuse you. I’ll happily engage in conversation if you ask. I’ll also — and I think I echo the sentiment of our Communications Team in saying this — happily receive any suggestion you might have regarding the improvement of our publicity efforts and systems. It’s highly likely you know how to do that a lot better than I.
I know this isn’t the same world Jesus walked. I know that advertisement and publicity happen in very different ways today. I also know that a lot of us aren’t easily fooled by shiny and louder things anymore. But I’m convinced that we have an important Message to share, and that we embody that Message in transformative and unique ways at First, Bristol. I think what we have is worth sharing.
So I’m asking for your help. Help me share the good news and the good work we do. Help me and our leaders make it better. Help us dream and vision and build the next level of the Church built on a Rock.
We need you and your gifts and your dreams. You are the Church. You and I. We are the Church together.