Connections: Pastors Roundtable
A Harvest-Focused Media Campaign
Since the release of the Nothing’s Too Hard for God media campaign in the fall of 2007, well over 2,000 people have made decisions for Christ. Five pastors who have used the campaign effectively in their communities share their insights.
evangel: Tell us about your church and community.
Pastor George Rennau, Grace Assembly of God, Parker, Ariz.: We’re a small church with an average attendance of about 130 people on Sunday mornings. Our community has a population of about 3,400 people.
Pastor Rick Smith, First Assembly of God, Abingdon, Ill.: Abingdon is a rural community of about 3,000 people. The community is struggling economically, which has dashed the hopes of so many people. The church has been a strong church through the years. We average about 120 people — 80 adults and 40 children and youth.
Pastor Mark Palenske, First Assembly of God, Greers Ferry, Ark.: We’re a closely knit tourist community of about 1,000 people where word spreads quickly and no stores are open after 7 p.m. Prior to our campaign, our church was averaging about 75-80 on Sunday mornings.
Pastor Wayne Murray, Grace Assembly of God, New Whiteland, Ind.: We’re a church of about 1,200 in a bedroom community just outside of Indianapolis.
Pastor Larry Burgbacher, Faith Assembly of God, Summerville, S.C.: We’re located just outside of Charleston in a high-visibility area on Interstate 26. Our church runs about 2,000 on Sundays.
RENNAU: I dabbled with it, putting some of the graphics on our website and linking to the national site initially. Then I ordered some wristbands, stickers for people’s cars, and some yard signs. It had an immediate impact.
Our people liked using the signs because they liked the saying, “Nothing’s too hard for God.” It gave them opportunities to talk to others about the message. That encouraged us to get some NTHFG fliers and put them up in some of the businesses in town. We had the message up all around our community and on our church property.
Soon we decided to do the radio ads and personalize them with our own ID. We placed them on a local rock station on weekends. Our community heard them, and it has created opportunities to share the Lord. In our services we followed the subthemes, used the videos, and preached the sermons of the campaign.
SMITH: God laid on my heart to do the Nothing’s Too Hard for God campaign in two phases for the entire year. We initially used it internally, preaching messages of hope and just trying to encourage the people. I felt they really needed their faith in God renewed, as well as their faith in themselves. It was a source of inspiration for the church. In the summer, we sponsored six different outreaches in the community, using a different theme each week.
Our goal was to saturate the town with this message of hope. We did not need the large media items, but we took advantage of the smaller items. We hung door hangers on every door in the town. We knew people would get those personally. We posted over 50 yard signs in various locations. We also put up posters in every business in town.
We ran free ads in the newspaper and on the local country radio station through its community service announcements. We also used the postcards and booklets to invite people. We knew we were very effective because a lot of people made comments of seeing the message everywhere they went in town.
PALENSKE: I first previewed this at General Council, thinking this might give us the momentum we were looking for. I thought it was going to have to be adapted to our setting, but it really wasn’t difficult to do that. I came back to see if I could sell it to the church board, and I did without any problem.
I selected media components that I thought would work best in our area. We did an eight-week campaign. I put the ads on two radio stations — an oldies and a rock station. I used the newspaper ads and placed signs along the highway that runs through town. We put up posters in nearly every business in town and changed them each week to match that week’s theme.
MURRAY: We discovered the media campaign and thought it would be a good outreach to run when we were ready to move into our new sanctuary. But with the economic downturn we felt now was the time to do it. We successfully launched an additional Sunday morning service in the fall using the campaign. We used several of the prepackaged components, and then added some of our own creations and ideas, such as human videos.
BURGBACHER: We added an additional week up front. I preached from Jeremiah, where the text for Nothing’s Too Hard for God is found, as a lead-in for the eight-week series. We used the NTHFG television commercials, billboards, mailings, small groups and other communication tools. It fell into place pretty easily and quickly.
RENNAU: Yes. The subject matter in the campaign materials, video and media are all so pertinent to people’s lives right now. I was able to use personal testimonies — it just preaches!
PALENSKE: We have a narcotics anonymous group that meets in our church and I was able to use the leader in that particular ministry. The videos are incredible, but being able to see someone right in front of you added a whole lot. For the theme of fear, I brought in a missionary who told their 9/11 story.
BURGBACHER: We used local testimonies as well. We videotaped them ahead of time — powerful testimonies! Because they were our stories and our people, it really had an impact.
RENNAU: We saw 19 new converts in the first four weeks alone. A number were baptized, and two were saved and delivered from drugs. We had an exciting growth spurt because of the campaign.
SMITH: We had four first-time decisions for Christ during that eight-week process. We also had three teenagers respond, so a total of seven people accepted the Lord during that time. Since the beginning of that year, using the NTHFG theme, we had about 16 decisions for Christ. Most of those were first-time decisions.
MURRAY: Roughly 70-75 people made decisions for Christ. Sunday morning attendance saw an increase of 150-200 each week during the campaign.
PALENSKE: We grew from an average of 75-80 to about 110-120. I credit the media campaign for providing the first glimpse of hope that drew people to the church. We grew during a time we would normally see a reduction.
BURGBACHER: We had about 100 salvations during the course of the eight-week series. Even later there were those who would say, “I started coming to church during the Nothing’s Too Hard for God series.” We grew by about 150 during the eight-week span. It was a tremendous win for us.
RENNAU: One of our members invited a lady who worked a drive-thru at a gas station. In her position, she knows everybody. She came to church and rededicated her life to the Lord, then invited everyone she knew. Soon she had her own section of the church filled up with visitors. That kind of excitement is from the Holy Spirit.
MURRAY: The Sunday before our church began the campaign, I preached a sermon titled, “How to Prepare for a Miracle.” We had each person in our church write a list of people they knew who could benefit from the various subtheme topics of the outreach. They collected the names and prayed over them … and then they invited those people to come.
BURGBACHER: If you are touching felt needs, the people are going to come. They are hurting, and it speaks to the needs they have. People invited those they knew were struggling.
RENNAU: It was great. Our people backed it. For example, to put commercials on the radio costs money, but they got 100 percent behind it. In fact, I just mentioned the idea of radio spots and we had over half the money raised in just a few minutes.
SMITH: Probably the biggest thing I have seen is that this works kind of like a missions trip, affecting both the church and the community. When believers take a missions trip, it revives them, stirring up their faith in God and renewing their passion to reach the lost.
The outreach became a springboard for our church to become an evangelistic church in our community. Outreach was almost nonexistent up to that point. Now we are known as a church that reaches out and touches the needs of the community. It has opened doors for us to do more than we ever dreamed possible.
PALENSKE: They were happy we were doing something in the community. It backed up their ability to invite people to church. The services were always incredibly powerful. It is really easy to preach when the people are already in tears — their hearts are wide open. The videos and testimonies did that kind of preparatory work. It was easy. It renewed enthusiasm among our church family and helped us internally.
MURRAY: We had several people give testimonies that it increased their faith in God — their belief in God and their ability to trust God again for miracles and intervention. Nothing’s Too Hard for God hits home with so many people because of the needs they have in their lives. I think it impacts people internally. They will never forget it.
BURGBACHER: It energized our church. They would talk about it throughout the week. They were looking forward to Sundays. We showed our own testimonies on Sundays. On Wednesday nights we had our groups, and they showed the small group testimonies. They were powerful testimonies as well, and that theme ran through the whole week.
Our life group leaders were excited — it was user friendly. It gave us great momentum to start out the year.
RENNAU: I think they should begin by praying about it, and let the Lord lead them in how to best utilize it for their community. I think we need to let the whole world know by whatever means are available to us.
SMITH: When I first looked at NTHFG, it seemed a bit overwhelming for a church our size. But I saw that the whole campaign was flexible. We were able to tailor it for our church and for our community. It meant a lot for us to have professional resources in our hands to be able to use in our church.
It was an investment; we took money out of our savings to do it, but we knew it would be worth it. I would encourage any church of any size to take advantage of the resources.
BURGBACHER: In the large church setting it works fabulously. Our budget was about $10,000, and we got a great return. We had a great response from the community. We put together a creative team to plan out the services — that is where we put most of our time.
But it really doesn’t need a lot of setup. Everything was provided and fell into place. We did “40 Days of Purpose,” but NTHFG was simpler, easier to use, and probably had a greater impact for where we were at and what we were doing.
PALENSKE: Our budget was around $1,800. One thing I would tell someone in a situation like mine is this: You have a tendency to see something like this and get intimidated. It really isn’t intimidating; it is an easy thing to do. You get to pick which things are really going to work in your area. Even with a budget smaller than we had, you can still use this.
MURRAY: This is one of the best things we’ve ever done. And it was one of the easiest as far as preparation. All of the tools were right there. We just had to plug them in.
I don’t think there is a better time, and I don’t know of a better tool out there to make an impact on your community than Nothing’s Too Hard for God. It is worth the money. Every penny you spend is worth it because it is highly, highly effective!
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