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 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×, 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 Matthew 10:18And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
American King James Version×, Luke 5:14 Luke 5:14And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.
American King James Version×). 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 Matthew 22:14For many are called, but few are chosen.
American King James Version×; John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×, Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×).
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 Matthew 28:19-20  Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×).
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 John 14:15If you love me, keep my commandments.
American King James Version×; 15:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:9 1 Thessalonians 2:9For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
American King James Version×). 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.
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 Matthew 22:14For many are called, but few are chosen.
American King James Version×) 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 2 Thessalonians 2:13But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
American King James Version×). This is made plain in Christ’s parable about the sower and the seed (Matthew 13:18-23 Matthew 13:18-23  Hear you therefore the parable of the sower.  When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.  But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;  Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty.
American King James Version×). 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 Luke 1:17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
American King James Version×) 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.