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Church Army - Inspire October 08

Recent research found only 12% of adults knew the facts of the biblical Christmas story. FRANCIS GOODWIN, Chair of the Churches’ Advertising Network, thinks it’s time to act

Could you tell the Christmas story in under 30 seconds?

That's the challenge being set by the Churches' Advertising Network (CAN) to churches and youth groups all over the country. There’s a prize of £500 for the best entry, not to mention national media exposure and potential fame for the winners!

CAN is an independent ecumenical group of Christian communicators, providing high quality national Christian advertising campaigns linked to major Christian festivals.

This year CAN will be running a national advertising campaign through December on commercial radio to encourage more people to discover the real Christmas story at their local church.

Award-winning freelance creative director Chas Bayfield, who co-ordinates the creative team behind the idea, says: “The inspiration for the 2008 campaign came from developing an animated film about the Christmas story last year which was a real hit on YouTube.

“We wanted to carry on with this idea of retelling the Christmas story, but in a medium suitable for radio listeners – the primary target audience for our campaigns. The new radio ads take on the style of a sports commentary and hope to engage in a humorous way with the youth audiences and to encourage them to go to church to hear the Christmas story in full.”

Increasing numbers of teenagers either don't know the Christmas story at all, or only have a vague knowledge of parts of the story with just 7% of 18 to 24-year-olds having an accurate grasp of all the elements.

The increasing external pressures to secularise Christmas and even the attempts to rebrand it as ‘Winterval Show’ or ‘Winter Festival’ show that we cannot be complacent about actively promoting the Christmas story to a new generation, some of whom may never have had the invitation to get to know Jesus.

Churches are being encouraged to get behind this national campaign and to make it happen in their city or town. There will be support material on the website and ideas for bringing the campaign alive in your community.

It would be fantastic to see thousands of young people participate in creating ideas, so please do what you can to encourage them to enter the competition, In addition to the cash prize, the best idea will be placed on the CAN website, uploaded onto YouTube and featured in future public relations activity.

Funding to assist with the production of the radio advertising and the airtime on national radio stations is being provided by Jerusalem Productions on behalf of the Sainsbury family’s charitable trust. Also backing the campaign are Church Army who are making available their free POSADA resources to churches and individuals this Christmas. These help people to tell the Christmas story by welcoming the figures of Mary and Joseph into their homes.

Help us to reach even more people than usual this Christmas, especially those who haven’t had the chance to hear the message of hope that the Christmas story reveals.

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