There are numerous passages in the Bible which speak of Jesus either addressing crowds of thousands or following up with people one-on-one.

For Rob Douglas, the Jesus. All About Life campaign provides a similar opportunity. 

CAMPAIGNING FOR JESUS: One of the billboards used in the Jesus. All About Life campaign.

 

“In the 21st century we have methods of reaching large numbers of people that weren’t available in Jesus’ day” 

- Rob Douglas, chair of the Western Australian committee for Jesus. All About Life. 

Douglas, who chairs a Western Australian committee of church leaders spearheading the campaign in the state’s west, says that while Jesus spoke to crowds of thousands of people at a time, “in the 21st century we have methods of reaching large numbers of people that weren’t available in Jesus’ day”.

He says that, just as Jesus addressed crowds of thousands and was able to follow it up with conversations with individuals, “in a similar way, the TV commercials become a catalyst for quiet Christians to talk to individuals about matters of personal faith”.

Created by the Bible Society in New South Wales, the Jesus. All About Lifemedia campaign was launched in a bid to create a point of connection between the church and the surrounding community; to mobilise so-called “quiet Christians” to share their faith.

First run in Adelaide in August 2005, the Jesus. All About Life campaign was run in Canberra over March and April last year and will kick off in Tasmania in September. Western Australia will run the campaign next year.

Consisting of a series of ads run in a variety of media - TV, radio, billboards and newspapers - over a period of weeks, the campaigns are only run with support of the local church community and are spearheaded by a committee of church leaders based there. 

Each campaign is preceded by a training program which aims to encourage Christians to share their faith in a practical way and shows them how to capitalise on the campaign by simultaneously running church-based outreach events.

Martin Johnson, communications manager at the Bible Society NSW and co-director of Jesus. All About Life, says that the aim of the campaign, is to reach 90 per cent of people in the geographic area it covers with the message 10 times.

“Certainly in Canberra...I think they got more than twice the number of TV spots they paid for,” he says. “And there was a great deal of interest by the media outlets, television mainly, because they’d never seen anything done by all the churches.”

The campaigns are overseen by a committee of church leaders. Formed to spearhead the campaign and raise funds.

While the make-up and cost of each campaign is different, Adelaide cost about $330,000 and the Canberra campaign was about $200,000.

Johnson says the feedback from the campaigns which have run to date shows that the response of the community’s varies but he notes that “it’s fair to say that those churches that put the most in, got the most out of it”.

According to a report from Adelaide, the 299 churches that registered for the campaign ran 558 events - including everything from men’s breakfasts through to “debt buster” seminars and stalls in shopping malls - while it was running during the period from 8th August until 4th September, 2005. It’s estimated as many as 6,000 people were trained in how to share their faith prior to the campaign.

As many as 83 per cent of the churches said they would be involved in a similar initiative in the future with one of the working group members describing the initiative as the biggest event he Christian church in South Australia had seen since the Billy Graham crusades of the Fifties.

While figures on the community response are difficult to ascertain, churches did report that the campaign had resulted in people connecting with churches for the first time or reconnecting with churches as well as new commitments to follow Christ and baptisms.

"The networks that will result will surely see the ongoing spread of the Gospel in Tasmania - long after the campaign is over.”

- Andrew Hillier, chief executive of Jesus. All About Life, Tasmania.

The response to the 2006 Canberra campaign - which included 161 churches running some 275 events - was similar. While noting the difficulty of assessing the success of the campaign in terms of conversions, a report produced in November 2006 (the campaign ran from 6th March to mid-April) said the “real success” of the campaign was in “providing a stimulus for Christians to share the Gospel with relatives and friends to speak out at school and work”.

Meanwhile in Tasmania - where the campaign will run from September 12 until October 30 - as many as 123 churches have now registered for the campaign from 33 different denominational groups.

Andrew Hillier, the chief executive of the campaign in the Apple Isle, wrote recently that the campaign had already brought together as much as 95 per cent of the Christian community in Tasmania.

“Such unity of purpose will in itself bring honor to His Name,” he wrote. “And the networks that will result will surely see the ongoing spread of the Gospel in Tasmania - long after the campaign is over.”

In Western Australia, Douglas says that churches in the nation’s west see the potential for the campaign, which he estimates will cost about $300,000, to have a “significant impact” on the state.

“In a relatively cost effective way, we are able to bring the name of Jesus to the WA population, to provide a catalyst for local churches to be involved in meaningful outreach activities, and to provide a means for quiet Christians to share their faith with others,” he says. 

Johnson, meanwhile, is hopeful that the campaign will yet be run in the population powerhouses of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. He says regional centres like Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria and Tamworth or Armadale in New South Wales could also possibly take it up in the future.

“You’ve got a number of key media markets around Australia which could easily run it and we’re more than happy to talk to any group that wants to do it in those places.”

www.jesusallaboutlife.com.au