Friday, May 9, 2008

The LCMS $500,000 Ad Campaign

Should $500,000 be spent on a national ad campaign to make Missouri Synod Lutherans feel good about being members of LCMS congregations?

It doesn't really matter how you answer the question, because it's scheduled to happen anyway.

While I was on the LCMS's Board for Communication Services (2004-2007), we were made aware that the executive director had arranged for a $1-million+ ad campaign in USA Today. [He hadn't bothered to get approval from the board before making such a commitment.] It was intended to precede the 2007 synodical convention.

The basic theme of the ad campaign which enlisted the help of a major media / public relations firm was centered around Dr. Kieschnick's theme of "Christ's love is here for you." The board I served on had numerous objections.

1) The theology of the ads intimated that if people were having difficult times with work, family or divorce, their lives could be made better with the love of Christ (in The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod congregations of course). A number of us attempted to promote a more incarnational / means-of-grace approach by changing the slogan to "Christ is here for you." Not just His love -- and not a "love" defined as the world defined it, but Christ Himself who comes to us through Word and Sacrament.

2) Most of us felt somewhat uncomfortable spending over $1-million on an ad campaign when we were having to call missionaries back from the field due to budget constraints.

3) The program was being funded by a major annual "block grant" from Thrivent, the fraternal life insurance organization. It was being governed not by the synod's Board for Communication Services (BCS), but by the "Corporate Synod Executives" (or CSE's) made up of the executive directors of the various synodical boards and departments.

4) After an appeal to the Synod's Board of Directors, the money for the campaign was redirected to be handled under the auspices of the BCS. When it became apparent that the BCS was loathe to let the program go on in the form in which it had been conceived after meeting with Dr. Kieschnick and representatives of the CSE's -- and after some changes to the Board of Directors' membership were made (under protest) to fill some vacant positions -- the money was taken back from the BCS and redistributed to the CSEs to come up with some other idea for divvying up the money.

A month ago The Board Briefs published in an edition of The Reporter noted the approval of the national message campaign expenditure of $500,000 while missionaries like Rev. James May being removed from the field for "programmatic and business reasons."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the LCMS just start a TV network, build a theme park and hire Jim Baker to raise some money for it? Missionaries are so 20th century.

I am afraid of what I will learn about the LCMS leadership plans next.