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Preaching the Gospel as a Witness

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Preaching the Gospel as a Witness

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Jesus Christ’s apostles asked Him about the signs of His second coming and the end of the age. After detailing several troubling events He said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14, emphasis added throughout).

What does the phrase “as a witness” mean? The Greek term from which witness is translated  is marturion, meaning testimony, evidence or proof emanating from an authoritative source. It is further defined as a declaration or announcement that makes something known (Matthew 10:18, Luke 5:14). Today, the United Church of God is bearing witness—making known to people throughout the world the truth about Jesus Christ and the gospel—meaning the good news of God’s coming Kingdom (government) to be established on the earth.

This astounding message is reaching people everywhere today through a variety of contemporary media instruments beginning with our “flagship” Beyond Today magazine and Beyond Today long-form (30-minute) television program. In addition, radio programs are being aired and public Bible seminars (60-minutes) are taking place in a number of locations around the world.

Besides employing these techniques, people are being reached by means of advertising which includes short-form television ads (1-2 minutes), ads in printed publications, and through various Internet methodologies including search and display advertising. Each approach is educational in nature—giving people, even at a minimum, the opportunity to discover the magnificent truths of God.

Bearing witness about Jesus Christ and the gospel

All these media practices bear witness to the real Jesus Christ and the gospel of the Kingdom of God while also covering a wide range of biblical topics. And importantly, every article, video program, seminar and advertisement has been ideally designed to peak people’s curiosity about the captivating truths of the Bible. This is often achieved by challenging conventional human concepts and teachings while encouraging readers and viewers to both examine their own beliefs and request free literature to help them learn more about the accuracy and reliability of Scripture.

The Church’s media outreach not only provides definitive testimony about the reality, presence and expectations of God, but makes known His profound love for His precious human creation who live in a society broken and corrupted by satanic deception, division, turmoil and unbelief. Furthermore, Church media shows the pathway toward godly righteousness to the many people God is calling to repentance, baptism and receiving the marvelous gift of His Holy Spirit (Matthew 22:14; John 6:44, Acts 2:38).

This aligns perfectly with a companion assignment that Jesus gave His Church which is to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

For those who choose to accept God’s invitation and experience spiritual conversion, they become responsible to develop and maintain a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and actively support the Church’s proclamation efforts—all while living in accordance with God’s commandments (John 14:15; 15:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:9). In fulfilling these commitments they savor wonderful joy and peace while looking forward to a magnificent future as members of God’s divine family in His Kingdom.

Considering all the above, what are the core methods by which the Church is carrying out its obligation to serve “as a witness to all the nations” through its home office and international offices? A recently released media report explained that since 2002, 8.5 million pieces of literature were mailed from the home office. It also stated that 51.1 million Good News/Beyond Today magazines were printed and distributed since 1997 and 91.3 million individuals visited the ucg.org website since 1999. Besides those notable benchmarks was the striking statistic that an amazing 12.5 billion online advertising impressions have taken place via the Google, Bing and Yahoo Internet search engines since 2004.

Advertising “impressions”

Through this powerful medium, the Church places display ads for Beyond Today magazine and study aids (booklets) and also runs thousands of keywords in search and content advertising—all of which are described as “advertising impressions.” This means that Internet users not only see our ads but have the opportunity to “click” on them—meaning users can be immediately directed to our website to learn more about the subject at hand. Taking this action is described in the industry as “engagement.” To the Church, this gives a person the opportunity to spend time on our website and while there, conduct additional search if they so choose.

After engagement can come “conversion,” which means a person may then actually request a piece of literature, read an article online or watch a Beyond Today video. Such tangible actions can be measured in “cost per response” or other metrics. A good “conversion rate” across industries is around 2 percent out of those see an online ad. Our various ads on Internet search engines are an important witness in the Church’s duty to preach the gospel to all nations. Advertising through search engine technology brings far more people to our website at far less cost than we could ever do by our own efforts.

In another example of advertising, for the past nearly six years the Church has been running robust ad campaigns on Roku video streaming devices. These have generated almost 50 million advertising impressions and generated almost 400,000 clicks. Since inception of the program one million Beyond Today TV programs have been watched. During the past ten months alone, 25,000 ads have run each day with hundreds of Beyond Today videos being watched daily.

Furthermore, Beyond Today video programming has been available for people to view on Amazon Fire TV, Samsung smart TVs, LG smart TVs, iOS devices and Android devices—all of which can create a powerful witness for the gospel.

Plus, throughout the upcoming 2022-23 fiscal year the Church’s print advertising in Sunday newspaper coupons inserts will reach 224 million households in the United States. Although the widely-accepted conversion rate for such ads is 0.5 percent to 2 percent, our compelling half-page ads will be seen by multiple millions of people and therefore serve as a witness that the gospel of the Kingdom is being published today.

An opportunity to choose

When considering the vast number of people in the world who receive God’s spiritual witness through the Church, it’s clear they have the distinct opportunity to choose whether or not they will pursue it further. As Jesus Christ said, “many are called” (Matthew 22:14) but, as the verse goes on to say, “few are chosen”—meaning that that some people decide to take additional steps through repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and go on to develop a close, personal relationship with God (2 Thessalonians 2:13). This is made plain in Christ’s parable about the sower and the seed (Matthew 13:18-23). Nevertheless, God readily and graciously offers His personal invitation to many people throughout the world today because of His boundless love and mercy.

So, a variety of contemporary media instruments serving multiple billions of impressions have taken place and are continuing to occur daily through the Church’s advertising campaigns. But some may ask, what benefit does the Church derive from this momentous effort? The answer is that it is greatly blessed with the firm knowledge that Jesus Christ’s commission to preach the gospel “in all the world as a witness to all the nations” is being carried out faithfully. Plus, as Church members back up this great effort, they are being made ready as “a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17) to serve in His coming global government.

Therefore, let us continue faithfully supporting the Church and its vital media work while praying diligently that God will richly bless and guide everything that is done in His great name.