Be Radical! Churches Asked to "Share Your Gifts" This Fall

April 24, 2008

You may have heard recently about a book that many church leaders are studying. Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, by Robert Schnase, Bishop, Missouri Conference, details practices considered by many to be critical to congregational success. Described as keys to "health, vitality and fruitfulness," these practices are:

* Radical Hospitality

* Passionate Worship

* Intentional Faith Development

* Risk-Taking Mission and Service

* Extravagant Generosity


Several conferences and thousands of churches have turned to Igniting Ministry, the denomination's Advertising and Welcoming Ministry at United Methodist Communications, for tips and tools to implement "Radical Hospitality."


Through the language of television, United Methodist Communications offers messages with the identity promise of "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." In addition to these public invitations, the ministry also encourages churches to embrace a lifestyle of intentional welcoming of all people.


For the past four years, the California-Nevada Annual Conference has partnered with United Methodist Communications to implement and help track the impact of Igniting Ministry. Welcoming training and certification, special advertising test activities, and many free resources have been part of this arrangement – and the efforts have been successful!


The 2007 tracking study conducted by The Barna Group showed both the highest advertising awareness levels (30% of people surveyed remembered seeing United Methodist advertising last year) and the highest willingness to visit a United Methodist Church (54% of people surveyed in 2007 said they'd be willing to visit one of our churches) since 2001. As this partnership draws to a close with the end of this quadrennium, we hope that you will take advantage of the last big, "radical" push before the final tracking season with the September advertising season, featuring the message "The Gift." 


At this year's Annual Conference Session, Igniting Ministry will provide FREE doorhangers with the theme "Share your Gifts" and a space to promote your church's ministries. The doorhangers (front and back artwork shown at right) will have a short survey on the back, asking the people of your community about ministries they'd like to see the church offer.


In addition to these materials, direct mail postcards in selected tracking areas of our conference, along with national television advertising, will support your efforts of personal invitation and community service to reach your community.


We hope that you will support this effort in these ways:


1. Pick up your free doorhangers at the Communications table at ACS and plan how you will distribute them to friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors (FRAN) in your community. Remember, the doorhangers are first-come, first-served, so get them early before they're all gone. 


2. Help track the number of first-time guests that come to your church during August, September, and October. Ask how they found your church. Be intentional in learning about whether doorhangers, postcards, television, or other efforts influenced their attendance at your worship service or youth group. Be prepared to share those comments and results with the Conference staff.

3. Plan a special "Open House" activity during September. Igniting Ministry encourages all churches to get ready for guests and to be intentional about welcoming newcomers each September. Have a picnic or concert on the church lawn. Do a community clean-up day and invite the neighborhood to help you. Remember to include events for teens and adults. Be creative! Look for more "Open House" ideas at 

4. Work toward becoming a Certified Welcoming Congregation. More than 720 churches around the country have attained this status. By focusing on important welcoming activities, such as improving church signage, having a welcome center, and training the congregation to practice "Radical Hospitality," many churches have seen tremendous growth – in spiritual fruitfulness and also in people attending the church. Get started by downloading the certification checklist at


Thanks for sharing in this partnership. If you have questions, feel free to contact Igniting Ministry at (877) 281-6535 or look for information at the United Methodist Communications booth at ACS.