United Methodists 'Rethink-ing Church' Today on Streets of NYC

May 06, 2009

New York, NY: United Methodists in the New York area are taking to the streets of the city today (May 6) to execute random acts of kindness as part of the nationwide launch of a sweeping new campaign called Rethink Church. The campaign seeks to redefine church as a verb - people taking action to better the lives of others.


More than 140 volunteers will perform random acts of kindness, including opening car doors, hailing cabs, passing out dog treats, picking up trash, handing out music download cards, and sharing the Rethink Church message.


Rethink Church is the next evolution of The United Methodist Church's "Open hearts" welcoming and advertising campaign. Audiences worldwide will see and hear more than $20 million in new advertising over the next four years on television, radio - and in new media, including banner and keyword advertising on major secular websites.


The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the many ways that The United Methodist Church is making a difference in the world, and to invite others to do the same. The messaging, targeting an 18- to 34-year-old audience, invites people to visit the new 10thousanddoors.org website, which highlights the many opportunities for involvement within United Methodist churches - from community hunger programs to disaster relief to fighting malaria.


"We are saying that there are 10,000 ways to become engaged with the church," says the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "Whether it's helping to provide an anti-malaria bed net for a child in Africa, volunteering to help in the community, or joining a church's recreation league, we want you to feel welcome. There is a doorway through which you can approach The United Methodist Church."


New research conducted by The Barna Group on behalf of United Methodist Communications found that 66 percent of young adults surveyed were searching for meaning and purpose in their lives, and 62 percent considered themselves "spiritual." Two in three said there were specific events or times in their lives when they were more likely to search for spiritual answers. But 78 percent said they never attend church, or only attend once in a while. The Rethink Church campaign aims to bridge that gap.


"We've heard the concerns of young adults [who are] searching for meaningful ways to change the world, and to find meaning and purpose in life with friends who care about them," says Hollon. "We want to provide the invitation for people to make that kind of connection within The United Methodist Church."


Today's NYC street team volunteers are from United Methodist churches in New York and Connecticut. Bishop Jeremiah Park of the New York Episcopal Area is participating in the event.