Frequently Asked Questions about Stillspeaking

About The Stillspeaking Initiative
 How many churches are participating?
 What is the future of The Stillspeaking Initiative?
 Should we continue to use the God is still speaking, brand?
 Will Stillspeaking resources still be available?
 Can I still buy God is still speaking, identity items?
 Will there be another national ad run?
 Can we use the TV ads locally?
 I heard there are new ads.
 Will field staff be available to work with local churches and conferences?
 Will grants for media be made to local churches again?
 How do I support Stillspeaking financially?
 How do I learn more about what Stillspeaking is doing?

About the ads
 Where can I see the ads?
 What is the point of your ads?
 What is the biblical and theological support for your ads?
 What about broadcast and some cable networks refusal to air the commercials?
 I don't like the Bouncer ad.
 Was this ad tested?
 The church shown is clearly a [Catholic / Lutheran / other denomination]. Why are you bashing other churches?
 Why is the non-minority family again portrayed as "the villain"?
 What are you communicating with the Ejector ad?
 Is that message coming across?
 I think the Ejector ad is violent.
 Who was in these focus groups?
 I like Steeples best.
 Where did "Never place a period where God has placed a comma" come from?

About the campaign
 
What is the church trying to accomplish?
 Why are we advertising?
 But advertising the church?
 Should churches be competing with one another?
 Are you saying the UCC is better than other churches?
 What is the impact of the ads among ecumenical partners?
 What are the benefits of spending all this time and money?
 Is this mission? Is this evangelism?
 How does God is still speaking, help me talk about mission? Or . . . This money should be spent on service, helping people.
 Where does all this money coming from?

How do we join?
 What do we do to become a Stillspeaking church?
 Can we use TV ads locally? How do we show  a TV ad locally? Can we customize it with our church's name?
 How will people find us?
 Is it too late to opt in?
 What does it cost to join?
 How can I check to see if we're opted in?
 How do I learn more about what Stillspeaking is doing?
 I haven't been getting anything via email. Why not?
 Does a church have to be Open and Affirming to be a Stillspeaking church?

Other
 How can we get special items commemorating the UCC's 50th anniversary?
 Who sets policy in the United Church of Christ?



About The Stillspeaking Initiative

How many churches are participating?
As of June 2007, about 2,600 churches have joined this movement of extravagant welcome. Among them, they represent 60% of all United Church of Christ members. Together they have chosen to say, "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here." This unprecedented strength is a sign that our God is indeed at work among us!  Top

What is the future of The Stillspeaking Initiative?
The Stillspeaking Initiative was designed to move into the permanent ministries of the church in 2007. New staff positions have been created in the Proclamation, Identity and Communications ministry (PIC) to continue to build and extend the brand, and resource and support churches in their ministries. Watch our website http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/ and "Quick News" for more info.  Top

In addition, Stillspeaking has teamed up with the Congregational Vitality Initiative to help churches take additional steps toward vibrant congregational life through God is still speaking, Ready, Set, Grow! New training and tools are ready and in development to foster discipleship and enhance evangelism.  http://www.uccvitality.org/

Our website http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/ continues to be a key resource for churches and members. The UCC’s new online community, i.UCC http://i.ucc.org/  (eye-dot-UCC) will grow into the main site for those learning about us or considering membership.

Click here to read more from the General Minister and President, John Thomas 

Should we continue to use the God is still speaking, brand?
Absolutely! The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Watch for new resources to spread the word to the public about our extravagant welcome this fall.  Top

Will Stillspeaking resources still be available?
Yes. The same great tools and stories are in a new package on www.ucc.org and we keep adding more. Bookmark our main page http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/ or find us under "The 411" on www.ucc.org 

No worries. www.stillspeaking.com automatically takes you to our new main page.

Identity merchandise is on the Stillspeaking Store http://www.stillspeakingstore.com/  Top

Can I still buy God is still speaking, identity items?
Yes, Stillspeaking merchandise is waiting for you at our online store at http://www.stillspeakingstore.com/. Or call United Church of Christ Resources at 800.537.3394.  Top

Will there be another national ad run?
There are no plans at this time for a national ad run. However, churches have been successfully using our award-winning ads locally to spread the good news about the United Church of Christ and their extravagant welcome.  Top

Can we use the TV ads locally?
Yes. We encourage you now more than ever to use these ads in your local settings.  Go to our Tools for Churches page for Ideas that Work http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/church-resources/tool5.html

In addition, the Power of Invitation and Welcome will help you construct an effective media campaign. http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/pdfs/Power_of_Invitation.pdf

Order an ad in the format your TV station needs, or customize the Bouncer, Ejector (English or Spanish), or Steeples ads with your local information. http://www.stillspeakingstore.com/CustomTvAd.asp  Top

I heard there are new ads.
We hope to develop new radio ads, and perhaps a 15 second TV ad. (Radio scripts were read by actors at General Synod, and a draft ad shown.) New headlines too. We'll let you know more this fall.  Top

Will field staff be available to work with local churches and conferences?
The new Stillspeaking staff will be set up differently. While regional managers will not be in place, the Cleveland based staff will be eager to make connections, build relationships, and resource churches and conferences. Staff in the Congregational Vitality Initiative are also ready to visit and support churches and offer training in new ways to foster discipleship. http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/ready-set-grow/.  Top

Will grants for media be made to local churches again?
Currently, there are no plans to continue the Media with a Mission grant program. (Grants were awarded in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007).  Top

How do I support Stillspeaking financially?
Three big ways:

1.      Make sure your local church supports Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM). Present a challenge to increase your gift annually, even by 1%. http://www.ucc.org/stewardship/covenant-keepers/

2. If you are not a "5 for 5" church, become one! http://www.ucc.org/stewardship/is-your-church-5-for-5-/

3. Stillspeaking continues to need contributions from our supporting friends, conferences, associations, and local churches. Your gifts will help spread the word about radical hospitality and extravagant welcome, in Jesus' name.

Hear first hand from people who found our church because of Stillspeaking and make a gift here.  Top

How do I learn more about what Stillspeaking is doing?
The best way to get the latest information about Stillspeaking is to visit us on the web http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/

We also send 2-4 short email updates per month to share stories and let you know what's new. Sign up http://ga3.org/ucc/join.tcl Be sure to check the Stillspeaking box.  Top

About the ads

Where can I see the ads?
Visit our website http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/televison-ads.html.  Top

What is the point of your ads?
The ads center on Jesus' extravagant welcome. One of the main lessons of the Bible is that Jesus didn't turn people away. The United Church of Christ seeks to be a place in today's world that welcomes all who come through our doors.

One ad features two muscle-bound "bouncers" standing guard outside a fabled, picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services. This represents the alienation felt by some persons towards church and religion. Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." A narrator then proclaims the United Church of Christ's commitment to Jesus' extravagant welcome: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.  Top

What is the biblical and theological support for your ads?
Find theological reflections on Ejector http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/church-resources/ejector.html and Bouncer and Steeples

http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/pdfs/bouncer-guide.pdf

See also a Bible study on Stillspeaking themes http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/church-resources/giss-bible-study.html.  Top

What about broadcast and some cable networks refusal to air the commercials?
CBS and NBC (and later their affiliated cable stations) refused to air our ads because they deemed them "controversial." This stance is in stark contrast to the ads themselves, which are welcoming. (ABC says it does not air any religious commercials.) 

We do not accept the position that the networks can censor religious voices in the marketplace. Throughout our history, the United Church of Christ has been a prophetic religious voice, from the struggles of our Pilgrim forebears through the civil rights era and continuing on today.

More info on media advocacy

http://www.ucc.org/media-justice/media-empowerment-project/
http://www.ucctakeaction.org/
http://www.accessibleairwaves.org/.
 Top

I don't like the Bouncer ad.
We are bombarded with communication everyday. Provocative, edgy ads cut through the cluttered information of our society and get viewer attention. We want a reaction, for in that moment, we can engage a viewer. Once we get a visitor through the church doors, the congregation can take it from there. The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. We're after the indifferent, the uninformed, the alienated.  Top

Was this ad tested?
The Bouncer ad was professionally tested during Lent 2004 in Harrisburg, PA, Cleveland, OH, Tampa- St. Petersburg, FL, Oklahoma City, OK, Springfield-Holyoke, MA, and Raleigh-Durham, NC. It ran on network and cable stations.  Top

The church shown is clearly a [Catholic / Lutheran / other denomination]. Why are you bashing other churches?
We filmed a congregation of the United Church of Canada. We sometimes hear that the stained glass or vaulted ceilings make this "clearly a ____ church," depending on the viewer's background. There is much variety among congregations of the United Church of Christ, and many of them cherish buildings much like the one shown.

We used this architectural form because it says "church" clearly and quickly in the public mind. This is helpful in a 30-second spot. It establishes the scene immediately and readies the viewer for our message. Notice how church structures are portrayed in this same way or in a little white frame country church in nearly every ad, show or movie that wants to quickly establish this concept.

It is natural for people to bring their own experiences to this commercial. Many of them erroneously assume that only certain type churches look this way. This is a good opportunity to share the wide architectural variety in United Church of Christ congregations.  Top

Why is the non-minority family again portrayed as "the villain"?
The appearance, clothing and manner are all symbols of privilege that viewers understand quickly. Focus groups "got it" instantly. However, in response to many who have raised this question and because we believe it is not fair to always portray this family solely in that light, we are committed to "redeeming" this stereotype should we have sufficient funds to develop a new ad.  Top

What are you communicating with the Ejector ad?
This ad is another way of delivering the same message we sent with the Bouncer and Steeples ads: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here." We chose a new vignette to keep our message fresh.

Our research shows that:

Our message of acceptance comes across to all viewers;
The ad is provocative and perhaps, controversial, likely to capture a great deal of attention;
Its humor is arresting and helps maintain viewer interest throughout the spot;
People remember it.  Top

Is that message coming across?
Our research shows that the spot was "very effective" in communicating its primary message of acceptance. Viewers saw the United Church of Christ as:

Open to everyone
Welcoming to all
Diverse
Accepting of everyone
Non-judgmental
God doesn't reject you and we won't either

This message came through to both the "unchurched" and the UCC members.

For the "unchurched," the spot reflected the personal experiences of many of the focus group participants. For UCC members, it accurately reflected what their church stood for and delivered to its constituents.  Top

I think the Ejector ad is violent.
We have heard this from a few church members and respect that reaction. The overwhelming majority of viewers in our focus groups and other showings liked the humor and felt, for the most part, that it was an exaggeration to make a point. The target audience, people roughly 25-50 years old, saw the ad as funny. It got their attention, and it surprised them.

In addition, many welcomed humor in a spot on religious practice. It signaled a relaxed atmosphere and distinguished us as a church that does not take itself too seriously to be accessible.

There was no confusion about what was being communicated about the United Church of Christ by showing the opposite of what it stands for, and clear communication is our objective.  Top

Who was in these focus groups?
A professional research firm designed and conducted with groups in Kansas City, Kansas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January and February 2006.  Two groups in each market were "unchurched" respondents; two were groups of UCC members.

Respondents were adults 25-54, half with children under 18 at home and half with no children at home. They were categorized as disaffected based on answers to a group of questions. UCC members were a similar demographic.

There were no significant differences between the group responses in Kansas City and Philadelphia.  Top

I like Steeples best.
Our members like this ad a lot. It conveys to many the way they feel about their church. But it takes a lot to cut through the clutter of mass communication and it doesn't get the attention our other ads do. We ran Steeples nationally for a week and viewer response was almost nil.

Our TV ads are not aimed at our members. Our mission is to reach out to the spiritually homeless of our time.   Top

Where did "Never place a period where God has placed a comma" come from? 
After Gracie Allen died, her husband, George Burns is said to have found among her papers a letter left for him. The letter included the phrase, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."

Ron Buford, charged with designing an identity campaign for the United Church of Christ, had been studying church history, visiting churches, and trying out ideas that would capture the essence of the UCC. Mayflower Pilgrim pastor John Robinson's words had struck a strong chord: "O God, grant yet more light and truth to break forth from your word."

In the creative fermentation of study, prayer, reflection, and sharing ideas and visions with colleagues, "God is still speaking," and Gracie Allen's advice to her husband became linked as signature elements of our identity campaign. The comma was conceived by UCC staff designer Randy Varcho as a simple, evocative symbol to graphically represent the power of the idea.

(Gracie Allen and George Burns were a comedy team popular for decades in vaudeville, radio, movies and TV.)  Top

About the campaign

What is the church trying to accomplish?
The Stillspeaking Initiative is designed to:

Speak to the alienated and those seeking a spiritual home
Let the world know that there is a church unlike any they may have known
Invite people to come . . . and let them know that "No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."
Raise the knowledge and pride of members
Embrace a common brand and theme so the United Church of Christ is instantly recognizable.  Top

Why are we advertising?
The heart of this effort to proclaim United Church of Christ identity in today's world is to reach those alienated from God. We learned from research both bad and good news:

The Bad News:
The unchurched are extremely angry at "church" based upon personal experiences

The Good News:
They want to come back and will do so if they are -

Invited
Made welcome
Given good information . . . without judgment. Top

But advertising the church?
We are called to "Go and make disciples."  The church in every generation has used contemporary means of communication to reach the unchurched.

For example, Paul's public sermons were meant to communicate the faith to a pagan culture and use the language of a non-Christian culture.  The "apologetics" of the first generations of Christians were meant to be widely read by pagans. The tracts and pamphlets of the Reformation communicated through simple concepts and images. We advertise in local newspapers. Radio ads were especially popular in the 1950s. Now people are reached through television and the Web.  Top

Should churches be competing with one another?
Nearly half the U.S. population has no church affiliation. Those are the people we are trying to reach. We are letting people know what is distinct about us. Most folks don't know there is a church like the United Church of Christ, or they confuse us with the Church of Christ.  Top

Are you saying the UCC is better than other churches?
No. Each denomination witnesses to the Gospel in its own distinctive way. Together, we assure that the Good News is heard by all in its rich and full variety. By clearly articulating the distinctive voice of the United Church of Christ, we make a vital contribution to the mission of the ecumenical church in our culture.  Top

What is the impact of the ads among ecumenical partners?
Nearly half the US population has no church affiliation. Those are the people we are trying to reach. We are letting people know what is distinct about us. Most folks don't know there is a church like the United Church of Christ, or they confuse us with other churches.

Communication directors from many of our ecumenical partners are supportive and enthusiastic about our campaign, and we often hear from pastors or members of other churches applauding our message.  Top

What are the benefits of spending all this time and money?
In the year after our initial ad run in December 2004, more than 7.1 million people visited our website. (Prior year saw 950,000 visits.) More than 661,000 took the next step and entered a zip code or city name to find a church near them.  Top

Is this mission? Is this evangelism?
Hear first hand from people who found our church because of Stillspeaking.  Read more stories http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/church-resources/stories/stories2.html and invest in changing lives here.  Top

How does God is still speaking, help me talk about mission? Or . . . This money should be spent on service, helping people.
Strengthening the church by inspiring our own members and attracting new ones is a response to Jesus' call to "Go and make disciples. . . ." More people and more money mean more disciples, more mission, more care, more ministry, more justice. More people who find a way into relationship with God.

Money spent on Evangelism is not a bad thing. Investing in helping people overcome alienation from God and the church is money well spent.  Top

Where does all this money coming from?
All the money for the commercials was contributed by people and churches who want to see the commercials air. They want all the people who do not know a church like ours exists to be able find us. Our Church's Wider Mission funds were not used to fund ads.  Top

How do we join?

What do we do to become a Stillspeaking church?
There are three requirements to be a Stillspeaking church:

1.  Opt in

Opting in lets us know that your church has decided to participate in The Stillspeaking Initiative. It means you're excited about helping people find a spiritual home with the United Church of Christ, you are prepared to offer an extravagant welcome to strangers in Jesus' name, and you are ready to strengthen your United Church of Christ brand identity.

Participating churches (over 2,600 in 2007) must name a local contact person, attend a training session in your area, and have a web presence. Opt in online http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/opt-in.html

2.  Get training

Most training is offered locally, but anyone is welcome at national training events too.

Beginning in 2007, Stillspeaking has teamed up with the Congregational Vitality Initiative to help churches take additional steps toward vibrant congregational life through God is still speaking, Ready, Set, Grow! This training includes Stillspeaking and offers material on knowing your church, community and mission so you can foster discipleship and reach out.  http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/ready-set-grow/

Training and scheduling are handled locally, so be in touch with your Conference / Association about plans for your area. You are also welcome at national training events. Meanwhile, there's a wealth of info on http://www.uccvitality.org/

3.  Have a website  

If your church does not have a website, we will help you make a free webpage. All you have to do is give us information about your church and send us a picture. To fill out the information for your webpage, go to www.ucc.org/stillspeaking/newwebpage.php

No church is excluded for financial or technological reasons.

Why do you need a website? A presence on the web is a critical element of 21st century hospitality. Without it, a huge and growing number of people won't give you a second chance to communicate with them.

Complete these steps and you'll be listed in the Find a Church database. This is one way people seeking a church will associate the United Church of Christ brand with you.  Top

Can we use TV ads locally? How do we show  a TV ad locally? Can we customize it with our church's name?
Yes. We encourage you now more than ever to use these ads in your local settings.  Go to our Tools for Churches page for Ideas that Work http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/church-resources/tool5.html

In addition, the Power of Invitation and Welcome will help you construct an effective media campaign. http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/pdfs/Power_of_Invitation.pdf

Order an ad in the format your TV station needs, or customize the Bouncer, Ejector (English or Spanish), or Steeples ads with your local information. http://www.stillspeakingstore.com/CustomTvAd.asp.  Top

How will people find us?
The commercials and identity items direct people to www.ucc.org  or www.stillspeaking.com for more information. Users perform a zip code or city search and get a map. Stillspeaking churches are designated with big red commas, associating them with the brand / symbol that the person has seen.

This is one way newcomers can find your congregation. It's up to you to get the word out locally. Find help and ideas on http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/church-resources/.  Top

Is it too late to opt in?
No, it's not too late. This movement of extravagant welcome is for all congregations of the United Church of Christ. We continue to receive opt in requests, and churches continue to be trained and get web pages. Contact your conference office for information on training.  Top

What does it cost to join?
You are asked to buy a $20 training notebook at your local training event. It includes materials you need to understand Stillspeaking and Ready, Set, Grow! so you can train and work with your congregation.  

Other costs are entirely up to you. We hope every church purchases a banner to hang outside. You can also run ads (newspaper, radio or TV) and buy and use our identity items. A casual inquiry like, "What does the comma stand for?" is an opening to tell someone about your church. Still others will buy an Identity Kit ($50.) so they can incorporate Stillspeaking graphics in a variety of materials, from billboards to business cards.

Everything is available through United Church Resources at 800.537.3394 and online at The Stillspeaking Store http://www.stillspeakingstore.com/.  Top

How can I check to see if we're opted in?
Go to http://www.ucc.org/ type your zip code into "Find a Church." If you've opted in, participated in training, and have a web address, your church will appear with the comma designator.

Write us at stillspeaking@ucc.org if you have questions.  Top

How do I learn more about what Stillspeaking is doing?
The best way to get the latest information about Stillspeaking is to visit us on the web http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/

We also send 2-4 short email updates per month to share stories and let you know what's new. Sign up http://ga3.org/ucc/join.tcl Be sure to check the Stillspeaking box.  Top

I haven't been getting anything via email. Why not?
Some servers automatically put our mail into a junk folder. If you add the address stillspeaking@ucc.org to your address book, mail from us more likely to get through. Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo accounts are especially likely to filter us to junk if we are not in your address book.  Top

Does a church have to be Open and Affirming to be a Stillspeaking church?
No. All churches in the United Church of Christ are invited to participate in this movement of extravagant welcome. Joining Stillspeaking means your church is excited about helping people find a spiritual home with the United Church of Christ, you are prepared to offer an extravagant welcome to strangers in Jesus' name, and you are ready to strengthen your United Church of Christ brand identity.

It is the gift and blessing of the United Church of Christ that we are diverse, that we listen to God's voice and live it out in unique communities of faith. Some things we have in common, and on some things we disagree.  Our goal is to encourage those seeking a spiritual home to walk through the door. One gift local churches can give not only visitors but one another is to develop a current referral network. If someone comes to your church and but thinks another congregation might be more comfortable for them, take them there!

Most congregations who have declared themselves Open and Affirming of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Persons have opted in to The Stillspeaking Initiative. Those churches represent about 20% of all churches participating in the Initiative.

(What does Open and Affirming mean?  http://www.ucc.org/lgbt/ona.html )  Top

Other

How can we get special items commemorating the UCC's 50th anniversary?
Order a 4' x 8' outdoor vertical banner with "50 Years Bold" directly from the maker. Call Pam DeMarce at (507) 381-4279 or e-mail   demarceadvertising@charter.net  See the banner on the Stillspeaking Store http://www.stillspeakingstore.com/Category.asp?Cat=Anniversary

50th anniversary T-shirts commemorating significant figures in UCC history are online at the Stillspeaking Store http://www.stillspeakingstore.com/Category.asp?Cat=Anniversary

Additional 50th anniversary items may be found at United Church of Christ Resources online  http://www.unitedchurchpress.com/class_smy.taf?search_id=679&site_uid1=11&hallway_uid1=450 or by calling 800.537.3394. They are also on page 20 of the 2007-2008 United Church Press catalog.  Top

Who sets policy in the United Church of Christ?
The United Church of Christ has a decentralized, "free church" system of governance. Authority lies with each congregation. The local church calls its own pastors and makes its own decisions about worship, theology, programs and budget.

The denomination's central deliberative body, the General Synod, meets every other year to speak to the churches on a variety of theological or secular issues as well as help shape national programs. Each new Synod, technically, speaks only for the national church and to the conferences and local churches; its pronouncements and resolutions are not binding on any local church or church member. However, given a denominational emphasis on covenant, the Synod's actions carry a certain authority and constitute a policy base for the church's national bodies.  Top

SECTION MENU
CONTACT INFO



Ms. Darlene Collins
Literacy Campaign Coordinator
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-2179
collinsd@ucc.org