Thinking Anglicans

New approach to Christmas advertising campaign

The Anglican Communion News Service reports: Christmas campaign does something new for 2013.

A marketing initiative established to remind Brits about the true meaning of Christmas is trying something different this year.

Concerned by the statistic that 51% of people say Jesus’s birth is irrelevant to their Christmas, the founders of ChurchAds.net are focusing on a slogan rather than an eye-catching image…

The campaign website is at http://www.christmasstartswithchrist.com/

It might be hard to believe, but knowledge of the Christmas story is fading.

Just 12 per cent of adults know the nativity story, and more than one-third of children don’t know whose birthday it is.

Some 51 per cent of people now say that the birth of Jesus is irrelevant to their Christmas. Christmas is being lost to secularism and the trend is for this to get worse.

Together we can reverse the trend

A movement made up of some of the nation’s leading Christian groups, including the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and the Children’s Society, is coming together because we believe Christmas is worth saving.

Christmas Starts with Christ is a campaign aimed at helping churches to make Christ and the amazing story of his birth the focus of the nation’s favourite time of year…

29
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
29 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
21 Comment authors
BiblejohnAnne2FeriaMarkBrunsonJohn Holding Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Christmas is indeed a major religious festival being swamped by commercial interests. But, in the USA, people fearing a so-called “war on Christmas” seem to focus on superficialities, like merchants who dare to say anything other than “Merry Christmas”. They want all merchants, period, to say “Merry Christmas” — or else. Dare we hope this new effort is aimed at reminding Christians of their religious heritage, strengthening their belief, and leaving people of other religious heritages alone during the month of December? Pinning one’s meaning of Christmas on whether a bored sales clerk tells you “Merry Christmas” or not is… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

I hope they didn’t actually *pay* anyone to come up with a variation of the 30-40 year old “Put the Christ Back in Christmas.”

Instead of advertising, why don’t churches try actually being Christ in the World – you know, healing the sick, preaching justice, peace, mercy, standing *against* the status quo?

The churches feel irrelevant because they *are*! They don’t live with the people they are supposed to serve. They are *of* the World yet not *in* it. Sound bites won’t fix that.

What is wrong with these people?

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E. Harris-White

Mark,

How much I agree with every word of your sentiments. The church must live the gospel, that is every baptised Christian. Not be unchristian, and waffling about nothing in particular.

God became incarnate, so must his church in all its forms.

Anne
Guest
Anne

If the campaigners are so concerned that people don’t know the Christmas story, why not put their efforts simply into telling it, rather than producing a slogan which implies that those whose Christmas celebrations don’t include religion are in the wrong.
How about posters which include a simple retelling, or poems and reflections about Christmas, or the story told from the point of view of various characters.
It isn’t people’s fault if they don’t know whose birthday it is – what you don’t know, you don’t know. What a wonderful opportunity it gives us though, to tell the tale afresh…

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

I’m not surprised that a growing number of people are ignorant of the Christmas story.
Most people’s experience of Christianity and Christians these days is some purple faced pop-eyed foaming-at-the-mouth fanatic going into spasms over abortion and homosexuality.

Bob
Guest
Bob

I’m an atheist. This is just a friendly heads up. Does no one else immediately spot that the “It might be hard to believe” could easily be read as applying to the actual Christmas story. (“It might be hard to believe, but knowledge of the Christmas story is fading”.) That’s how I read it. Maybe it’s my atheism? Or is the double meaning a sort of self-deprecating joke? Anyway, trying to get out of my own perspective, I think this ad is just terrible (from the religious perspective). It’s reinforcing the fact that the country is secularizing, instead of a… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Glad ‘official’ Christianity is at last waking up to the virtual collapse of Christian culture in the UK and western Europe generally. I expect this to concentrate minds – as the gay debate in the Lords concentrated Welby’s mind – and to lead to steady, if discreet, abandonment of illiberal positions.

Jonathan Jennings
Guest
Jonathan Jennings

I’m relieved by this and encouraged that they’ve produced something that isn’t whiny, smug, self-righteous, over-clever, morally superior or puerile, and that hasn’t gone the way of controversy in order to buy a certain kind of publicity. This one probably won’t make the Daily Mail but might just actually get used in parishes for the ways the campaign suggests. And there’s a huge tonal difference, Peter, between ‘putting Christ back’and ‘starting with Christ’; the resonances of the former are critically finger-wagging and of the latter are encouraging, tolerant and indicative. Yes, the ground is stony, but when exactly were we… Read more »

Laurence
Guest
Laurence

This ‘advertising campaign’ is not about incarnation at all — on the contrary !

Surely, it is a kind of retreat into a cultic cul-de-sac where primacy, intimacy and ‘ultimacy’, are (be)traded-in for sectarian baubles of banality.

Spend the money on some real mission / projects in our broken country …

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Terrible.

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

I wonder whether anyone realised that to some people the website will read: “Christmass Tarts with Christ”.

Tim
Guest

I agree with several of the comments already – the whole `Christmas starts with Christ’ thing is so old-hat and trite, it’s just an offputting gripe.

It would be far better to live the message the rest of the time.

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

To me Christmas is about the LIFE of JESUS. I celebrate his birth not because of the beautiful legends, rich in meaning and in Scriptural echoes, that came to be told of it, but because of his living and loving and healing, his giving himself to the cause of the “kingdom of God” (even if we do not share whatever was his understanding of that kingdom) and his doing that even to the point of his suffering and laying down his life for others – he now “made alive in the spirit”. The story of Mohammed, for instance, does not… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

It is typical of the evangelicals to assume that there are only two sorts of people in the country: Christians, and people who feel guilty about the fact that they aren’t Christian. The same applies to vegetarians: they assume that the only reason people eat meat is that they haven’t yet been told about the issues that make the veggies not eat it. Leave aside that most of Christmas as celebrated today is a pagan winter festival (food, trees, presents), and has no need of religion to complete it. Leave aside that the claim that only 12% of adults know… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I’d defy any of the 51% who say that Jesus has no relevance to the Christmas celebrations not to be moved by an Infant School Nativity play.

Iain Baxter
Guest
Iain Baxter

“Christmas starts with Christ” is true – but it is also the sort of embarrassing slogan often seen on church notice boards. It is rather like the requirement for hairdressers to have punning names like “A Cut Above..” and so forth. One near my home in Sheffield is called “British Hairways”! It also could be perceived as a bit insulting because it implies that the person reading might not have known that CHRISTmas begins with CHRIST. At the same time it says nothing about what that means. TORCHWOOD is an anagram of DOCTOR WHO! But that, while less obvious, doesn’t… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

“especially all that is represented in the Apostles’ Creed by a comma (between “Mary” and “suffered”)” –John Bunyan on Friday, 23 August 2013 at 11:41pm BST

Bravo, sir! Well done.
It is precisely that person whom I admire. He who came and taught, and laughed, and healed, and scolded, and ultimately was executed because — IMHO — he was seen as a trouble-maker disturbing the status quo.
If that image of Jesus of Nazareth is not grand enough, not cosmic enough, for some, it’s more than enough for me. I admire the man represented by a comma.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The campaign is rather misplaced and somewhat of a distraction. The neo-pagans and materialists now largely own “Christmas”. Let them have it.Perhaps the Christian community could concentrate on the core message of the nativity “Peace on Earth and goodwill towards all.” As for nativity plays, they likely make the non-churched who show up even more skeptical about the message of the Gospel.

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

It would appear to me, then — based on the comments to date, that the major flaw with this ad is that it is about culture, not about faith. Those who put it together have realized that the culture in Britain has moved away from Christ. WHich is undeniably true. But they have addressed the matter in cultural terms, not religious terms, as if faith would grow if the culture changed. What I really think they need to notice is that culture has changed because faith has failed: the problem is not with the culture, it is with the faith,… Read more »

John
Guest
John

welcome back, Father David, refreshed (I hope)for the fray.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Thank you John for your words of welcome, much appreciated. While on holiday I did catch sight of the penultimate edition of the Salisbury diocesan newspaper “The Sarum Link” which contained photographs of the 2013 ordinations in that diocese. I noticed that of the 10 deacons ordained 8 wore diagonal diaconal stoles while two (looking rather out of place) were allowed to wear black preaching scarves. If we can live together with such small differences why can’t we live together with larger and more significant differences? I further note that those ordained to the priesthood (6 women and only 2… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The only way to convince anyone else that the Incarnate Christ is real and effective is to demonstrate His presence in our lives. Ghandi once said that is only Christians acted like Jesus there might be many more believers in the world.

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

Father Ron (and others) — of course “the only way to to convince anyone else that the Incarnate Christ is real and effective is to demonstrate His presence in our lives.” But what does that look like on the ground, and how does it differ from the kind of life led by a virtuous Jew, a virtuous Moslem, a virtuous Hindu, or for that matter, a virtuous atheist? And, supposing we are leading that demonstrative life, how are people to know that the reason we lead it is Christ in us? Wear a sign? It is not at all evident… Read more »

Feria
Guest
Feria

Interested Observer: ‘Leave aside that the claim that only 12% of adults know “the nativity story” is clearly bogus and probably means “only 12% scored 100% on an incredibly detailed quiz”‘

You’re right. Full details at http://campaigndirector.moodia.com/Client/Theos/Files/Christmas.pdf

MarkBrunson
Guest

“Interested Observer: ‘Leave aside that the claim that only 12% of adults know “the nativity story” is clearly bogus and probably means “only 12% scored 100% on an incredibly detailed quiz”‘

You’re right. Full details at http://campaigndirector.moodia.com/Client/Theos/Files/Christmas.pdf

Ah! Another manufactured crisis.

You know – if the churches actually started doing and saying relevant and life-giving things, they wouldn’t need to keep churning out spurious reasons that they are so vital.

Feria
Guest
Feria

What’s more, one of the questions on the quiz was ‘According to the story in the Christian Bible, who was Jesus’ cousin?’. The answer considered correct was John the Baptist.

However, thanks to the sterling efforts of the Gideons, the Bible most people in the UK have to hand is the NIV. Strictly speaking, for them, the correct answer would be “don’t know”, because in Luke 1:36, where the KJV says “cousin”, the NIV merely says “relative”.

Biblejohn
Guest

As one of the people behind this campaign, I thought I’d offer a response to some of your comments. Mark Brunson – no one got paid, we give our time for free. You ask: “why don’t churches try actually being Christ in the World – you know, healing the sick, preaching justice, peace, mercy, standing *against* the status quo?” It is insulting to suggest that they don’t. Some of our posters even say “Christmas doesn’t start with a fight on Eastenders, Christmas starts with our Tuesday night soup kitchen.” Our campaign is a way of telling the public that the… Read more »

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

Biblejohn I appreciate you taking the time to try to answer all our points. Mine was a suggestion that if people didn’t know the story, we should tell them it, and your response was to direct me to http://bit.ly/6jocoB as an example of when you had done that. Unfortunately I have to say that if this is your idea of “telling” the story it confirms my fears about your organisation’s approach to campaigning. This video isn’t storytelling, it is a gimmicky parody which wouldn’t take anyone any deeper into the heart of the nativity story. They might be impressed by… Read more »

Biblejohn
Guest

Hi Anne – it is pretty rough and ready – it was a nationwide competition co-ordinated with the BBC Today show. This meant we had worldwide entries. The entrants were all amateurs and the winner was announced on prime time Radio 4. You might not like the style of it but getting people talking about Jesus outside of church at Christmas is an achievement which I am personally pleased with.