Churches routinely put on their best during Christmas and Easter seasons in an effort to reach the "unchurched" wandering through their doors on those special occasions. And every year the marketing strategies of congregations vying for attention seem to get more creative. So what churches stood out last week for their Easter innovation?
At Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York City, congregants re-enacted the final hours of Jesus' life-via Twitter. Using only 140-character microblogs, church members performing the Passion play tweeted for three hours on Good Friday. In addition, the lower Manhattan church also offered a Web version of the Stations of the Cross that allowed online visitors to meditate using words, pictures and music.
In Crestview, Fla., leadership from Mosaic Church of Crestview stirred up community waters with an edgy "No More Christians" campaign that drew both interest and ire. Using a "reverse" approach to traditional evangelism, the nondenominational church posted billboards and ran commercials promoting a recent series of discussions that include "Why you should be an atheist instead of a Christian" and "Why you should be a Muslim instead of a Christian."
"We were really trying to catch the attention of people who are searching," said Mosaic pastor James Ross. "Newsweek published a special about the decline and fall of Christianity in America, and a lot of people are searching and leaning away from Christianity. We were specifically trying to target them with the commercial and the signs. Unfortunately, we also attracted some negative attention."Mosaic may have felt some backlash, but an Indiana church's creative efforts received the dubious tag by one online critic of "the dumbest Easter church marketing stunt yet." Cross Roads Church, which meets at a high school in Wheatfield, Ind., invited everyone to ditch church on Easter-even encouraging people to join them via a barebones Web site at ditchchurch.com. The premise: Plenty of folks may be turned off by the thought of attending a regular Easter service, but who among us can resist a party? Though the results aren't in yet, it's doubtful whether a "party" at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning-at a school no less-had people lining up at the doors. [AP, 4/10/09; crestviewbulletin.com, 4/8/09; alittleleaven.com, 4/5/09]
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