Back to Church Sunday to be promoted in radio ads

The Church of England is advertising Back to Church Sunday 2010 (September 26th) on the radio stations Classic FM and Heart FM, to deliver a message of welcome over the airwaves straight into the homes of 1.3 million people.

The adverts will support 400,000 personal invitations that members of over 4,000 churches will send to their friends, when the friend-inviting-a-friend initiative enters its seventh successful year of giving people returning to, rediscovering and exploring churchgoing, a very warm welcome.

Back to Church Sunday began in Manchester in 2004, spread to Wakefield Diocese in 2005, nine dioceses in 2006, 20 in 2007, 38 in 2008, and all 44 in 2009, when an estimated 82,000 people came back to church across the UK.

The radio advert can be previewed at, and will be heard by 1.3 million people an average of three times. It will be broadcast in the week running up to Back to Church Sunday on Classic FM in the Midlands and Heart FM in Essex and Kent - covering the initiative’s friend-to-friend invitation hotspots: the Dioceses of Lichfield, Chester, Chelmsford, Worcester, Rochester and Canterbury.

The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge, whose diocese is one of those investing in the advertising, said: “We’ve chosen these two stations as they get to places we can’t and talk to some of those we’ve lost touch with via the unique relationship people have with radio. Some three million people* said they would go back to church if invited - and the adverts are helping us give the people we’re missing that warm invitation.”

Every year thousands of people are inspired to return to church by a simple invitation from a friend and the ‘VIP reception’ they receive when they give it a try – but now the power of radio is being used to make use of the close relationship listeners have with their favourite stations.

Produced by Bradford-based Whistling Frog Productions with support from the Jerusalem Trust, the advert comprises a montage of ‘vox pops’ from real churchgoers around the country: ”It’s like a big family… There’s always someone to talk to... It makes me feel good about myself... Quite often I go there and I just cry because I’m so overwhelmed with the whole love I feel... It’s a shared experience... It’s a place where if I’ve had a rough week, I can just leave it all behind… To me it’s the greatest thing on earth… Friends, family, fun, I just love it…”

Colin Lowther of Whistling Frog Productions said: "Radio advertising is a cost-effective medium for getting a message across to lots of people at once, whether it’s about washing powder or why people go to church. Radio is a one-to-one medium even though it's not face-to-face, so the idea of an on-air invitation can still work well. With a national event such as Back to Church Sunday, it makes perfect sense to use a 30-second commercial to raise awareness of a single day that could change listeners' lives forever.”

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