Bible campaign aims at ‘movable middle’

During a panel discussion at the recent Evangelical Christian Publishers Association executive conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Elisa Goodwin, operations director for Project Magellan, updated publishers on a pilot project that is working to create 77 million ad impressions, 1.6 million site views, and 1.2 million website visits all to promote Bible engagement.

Working with The Richards Group, a leading branding agency, Project Magellan will focus on nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population who represent the “movable middle” between those who are Bible skeptics and those who are Bible engaged.

Goodwin said Bible skeptics more than doubled between 2011 and 2016 to 21 percent of the population while Bible-engaged people have declined three points to 20 percent of the population, using Barna Research statistics. She said the negative trend reveals a departure from traditional Bible acceptance, and the Magellan Project seeks to turn that around.

The thrust of the campaign is an attempt to clear the air, acknowledge mistakes, and present Bible benefits void of condemnation, Goodwin said. She screened what is becoming known as “the apology” video, an emotionally charged piece that invites people to open the Bible.

A broad range of characters, from hipsters, hippies, and gangsters to grandmothers, students, and parents apologize for what’s been done in the name of the Bible and asks people not to hold what they’ve done against the Book. The Bible is called “an invitation from God to you.”

One element of the campaign tested in several metropolitan areas is to position the apology ad with searches related to products, problems, or controversies over the Bible. The ads link to LookInside.org, a website with an engaging landing page offering questions and concerns people might have about the Bible with honest and authentic answers. The campaign includes social media links to negative Bible commentary and trends, she said.

The biggest driver to motivating people to read the Bible are questions about sex, divorce, marriage, and other life issues, Goodwin said.

“We must have an open and honest conversation about these issues,” she said, indicating the campaign provides culturally relevant answers aligned with biblical principles.

Every Tribe, Every Nation

The ECPA panel included Goodwin from American Bible Society, which is driving the Magellan Project, and others from Biblica, Seed Company, HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Tyndale House Publishers, and the Bible Society of Australia. Cris Doornbos, David C Cook CEO, moderated the panel.

The representatives also have been engaged in the Every Tribe Every Nation collaboration to build a digital library to translate the Bible not only into new languages but also new formats to reach all peoples with the Bible in their heart language. (See EveryTribeEveryNation.org)

Launched by Mart Green, founder and former CEO of Mardel Christian stores and now Hobby Lobby board chair, the Digital Bible Library has formed an alliance with the Bible societies, Wycliff Bible Translators, SIL International, and others to collaboratively reach the more than 1 billion people yet to have a readable or interpretable Bible translation.

Todd Peterson, Seed Company chairman emeritus, said, “The last Bible translator has been born,” referring to end-times biblical prophecy that every tribe and every nation will hear the Gospel before Jesus returns.

Don’t Get in the Way

The panel agreed that there’s a need for urgency to translate the Bible and make it available relevantly for all peoples, including those in the U.S. with meaningful information about the Bible’s life-changing power. That urgency is what is driving the collaborative effort.

Goodwin said most people don’t disagree with the Bible but with the Bible’s ambassadors.

“We have to stop getting in the way and let the Spirit work,” she said.

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