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The conservative Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has jumped into the vast ocean of modern communication in the belief that secular advertising will reach the secular masses.

Launching a $98.7 million "Go ... Tell a NEW Generation" evangelism campaign, the International Lutheran Layman's League is placing Lutheran Hour Ministries squarely into the world of mainstream media, using radio, TV, newspapers, cassettes, pamphlets, and toll-free phone lines.

Viewers in various California, Iowa, and Oklahoma markets have seen a 30-second spot on major TV channels that talks about improving family communication. Dialing an 800 number, a caller connects with a volunteer who provides a booklet and audiocassette that offer biblically based answers.

"This is the outreach that really has the sizzle," says Dale Meyer, principal speaker on The Lutheran Hour, a weekly radio program heard on more than 1,200 stations. "It is not bait-and-switch. It's not going to be an electronic altar call."

But callers will be contacted again. After each campaign, area congregations offer seminars—in neutral, nonthreatening locations—for those interested. Later, a Bible study is offered. To date, more than 9,000 people have responded.

"People sitting on the couch watching Coach or Roseanne don't want to be preached at," says Cathy Sargent Mester, a Pennsylvania State University communications expert. "But a seed can be planted if you present a situation they can identify with."

Temporarily replacing his white-collared black garment with more casual attire, Meyer is also appearing in On Main Street, a Christian social-issues program designed for secular television. Targeting baby-boomer topics and featuring interaction with a live audience, the 18-week ...

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In the Magazine

September 12, 1994

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