$100M Campaign Shows Full Humanity of Jesus to Encourage People to Explore Their Faith: 'He Gets Us'
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A $100 million media campaign is currently targeting people who are unsure about Christianity by showing them just how human Jesus Christ really was.
The foundation is using more than $100 million in funding in the campaign from what it describes as "like-minded families who desire to see the Jesus of the Bible represented in today's culture with the same relevance and impact he had 2,000 years ago."
Other groups have joined in the campaign, including the Luis Palau Association, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today magazine.
Kevin Palau, president of the Luis Palau Association, said he was "grateful the campaign wasn't designed to recruit for any particular church or denomination but to simply encourage folks to explore faith in Jesus."
"I think the ads themselves will provide the spark for a lot of interesting spiritual conversations, and that's a good thing," he said in a statement to RNS.
The Signatry purchased air time for commercials during the broadcasts of the NCAA College Men's Basketball Tournament as part of the campaign that's also using ad buys across TV, radio, social media, and billboards in order to get its message out to the audience.
Theologically speaking, Jesus was both fully God and fully man. It's one of the mysteries of the faith. But sometimes people forget how human he was, and how he dealt with all the same things we do.
Jason Vanderground, president of Haven, a Michigan-based advertising creative group, is working with the foundation on the project. He told RNS the advertising campaign is based on broad research.
"We talked to thousands of people who, while of course, they have heard of Jesus, they don't know the full extent of His ministry," he said in a statement. "We see a light go on for them when they begin to recognize that Jesus was fully human — and that carries them forward in being able to take in and understand that He was fully God, too."
Vanderground said the campaign is "not about recruiting or converting," but rather to "raise the respect and personal relevancy of Jesus."
For example, in a 15-second video spot, titled Jesus Suffered Anxiety, black and white still photos are used to portray people suffering from anxiety. A graphic reveals "Jesus suffered anxiety, too. He gets us."
So far, the video has drawn more than 9,500,000 views since it was uploaded to YouTube last November.
The video's description highlights the night Jesus was betrayed.
"Jesus said his soul was grieved to the point of death - that's how we described the anxiety. There were reports that he was so upset that he was sweating, in some accounts it even suggests he was sweating blood.
Just like you and me, he was doing his best to deal with it, and just like us, his coping mechanisms didn't work so well.
His friends fell asleep. Despite his prayers, he still had the same impossible job to do. And the men who were hunting him found him that night, right there in the garden.
Yet, despite this total failure to quell his anxiety, Jesus found the strength to face his accusers and submit to them willingly and without violence - knowing that his death would only further spread his message of radical love."
All of the advertisements point people to the "He Gets Us" campaign website which encourages visitors to read, watch and listen.
"Have you ever experienced frustration? Sorrow? Temptation? So has Jesus," the website reads. "Jesus understood what life was like for people in his day -- especially for the marginalized. He was drawn to those on the fringes because he was one too: An immigrant. Homeless. Arrested. Bullied. Through it all, Jesus welcomed outcasts, stood up for women, hung out with troublemakers, even befriended enemies."
The website also allows users to chat online, text a volunteer to pray for them, and sign up for a Bible reading plan.
According to RNS, the campaign was previewed for two months in 10 U.S. markets and drew more than 30 million YouTube views, more than 10 million prime-time TV ad views, and 95 million outdoor impressions. In addition, organizers said 10,000 people signed up for YouVersion Bible reading plans, 3,000 participated in live chat conversations and 1,000 made prayer requests.
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