Monday, May 12, 2008

Gallup Poll gives Methodists highest positive ratings

Igniting Ministry is credited for the breakthrough in how the Methodists are viewed.

The question is; okay so what and now what? So what that we have a positive rating due to igniting ministry, isn't that nice. If are ratings are up, is our attendance up too? Is our outreach up too? Is our involvement in the world up too? Is our welcoming the stranger up too? How is this getting lived out in the local church? In the individual church member? And if we have this high rating, how come our numbers are still slipping? How come we have so many church closures? How come the number of young people going into the ministry is so low?
Yes, these are good numbers, good that we are viewed in a positive manner. I would hate for us to be seen other wise. Lets celebrate it, and keep building on this, and keep bringing it down to the local level.

UMNS — Methodists have the highest positive ratings of religious and spiritual groups in the United States, new research by the Gallup Panel shows.

Ninety-six percent of the 1,005 persons interviewed during the March poll had either a positive or neutral view of Methodists. Four percent had an overall negative view. The survey used the broader category of Methodists rather than United Methodists specifically.

Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, credited The United Methodist Church’s 7-year-old Igniting Ministry advertising campaign for moving “Methodists” out of the pack. The advertising campaign primarily targets persons seeking spiritual fulfillment who may not necessarily have a church affiliation.

Hollon said new research by Barna Research Group indicates that the “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” advertising slogan of Igniting Ministry is proving to be effective in communicating key characteristics of The United Methodist Church.

“One of the challenges that denominations typically face is that people don’t really know that much about them,” said Hollon. “The survey data gives us a snapshot of how others see us. The indication is that the campaign has helped to reframe people's indistinct perceptions about the church into something more positive.”

Gallup Poll

Methodists are one of the four U.S. religious groups with strongly positive ratings in the Gallup Poll. The others are Jews, Roman Catholics and Baptists. Broader groups of “evangelical Christians” and “fundamentalist Christians” did not fare as well, but still rated more positively than negatively, according to an analysis of the survey.

The random, demographically weighted poll was conducted March 24-27. Gallup says it has a margin of error of plus or minus 4% points.

Barna Research

The Barna study assessed 10 different statements about The United Methodist Church that reflect the intended communications within the advertising messages developed for the campaign. More than 1,200 respondents from six test markets were interviewed by the Barna Research Group in order to better understand how the denomination is positioned among the target audience of adults ages 21-60 who do not attend a United Methodist church and who are searching for something spiritually.

Among the findings:

  • 58% of respondents agreed that United Methodists care for and support each other, compared to 43% surveyed in 2002
  • 57% believed United Methodist accept you for who you are, up from 45% in 2002
  • 41% said United Methodist help you find deeper meaning and purpose in life, compared to only 26% in 2002
  • 51% said United Methodists help people facing personal difficulty, up from 38% in 2002
  • The survey showed that those exposed to the advertising campaign were much more likely to hold favorable views of The United Methodist Church than those who did not recall the advertising.

    The complete Barna survey is avaialble through Igniting Ministry.

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