There’s a place for you here too

Since 2015, members of the New Apostolic Church have been smiling at passers-by from display cases outside our churches. Starting next year, sisters and brothers will still be shown, but only as silhouettes. The project manager explains the idea behind this.

In 2019 Derick took part in the first photo shooting for the 2020 poster campaign, but for various reasons his picture was not used. He was therefore all the more delighted when he found out from his friend Björn Renz that his photo had been chosen for the April 2022 poster. “Derick was so happy. And then I showed him the poster. You don’t even recognise him, but he took it with humour,” Björn Renz, member of the working group Communication in Europe and project manager of the poster campaign, says.

Filling a place

As in years before, the posters, which will be on display mainly in the display cases of our churches in Europe starting January 2022, will feature a church in the background, either from the outside or the inside. In the foreground, the observer sees a seated or standing Church member, who professes to being a member of the Church through his or her picture. As in previous years, age and gender are well balanced. But the person is no longer recognisable, all the observer can see is the silhouette. The idea is that passers-by see: “The silhouette can be filled in by you, and you are invited to come in and take your place,” explains Björn Renz.

The working group has created a motto for each month of the year. The invitation extended for January 2022 for example is: “There’s a place for you here too along with all your wishes and requests to God for the new year.” August’s motto is: “There’s a place for you here too, if there is a place for God in your heart and life.”

The team came up with this idea when they thought about who walks past our churches and how they would like to reach out to these people. “We are targeting the casual passer-by or the people living in the church’s vicinity,” explains Björn Renz explains. That is why all posters are to be inviting. “Of course we could have written something like ‘Welcome to our church services and other activities’. But this would become rather boring over the years,” says Björn Renz. That is why the message gets a new accent every year.

There is enough material

Up to now, the team around Björn Renz always aligned the poster series with the Chief Apostle’s annual motto. In 2020 then, they used the motto of the International Youth Convention (“Here I am”). This year, 2021, the posters feature the motto “I do my part (in the congregation and for the congregation)”. Real people, brothers and sisters smiling at passers-by from the display cases, make our Church feel authentic and allow people to identify with it. The church building pictured in the background gives people an idea of what a typical New Apostolic church looks like. “Together with the text, the building and the model make it clear: this is our church, these are our members, and this is what they believe,” Renz says.

To be as cost-effective as possible, Björn Renz always looked for churches that offer as much architectural diversity as possible. On one day he, the photographer, and an assistant would drive to a church building and take as many pictures as possible of brothers and sisters who lived in the vicinity of the church. They did this at three different locations. “We always took more photos than we really needed,” says Björn Renz. This way they had more variance in expression and character and enough material in case one of the models decided to withdraw its consent. “Now we can use the pictures taken in the past seven years, these great photos of our brothers and sisters in front of and inside our churches,” he says.

Covid changes photo shooting

Covid also challenged the team. The pandemic made it impossible to photograph large numbers of people at various different locations. But Björn Renz and his team were able to fall back on the unpublished photos—they had already obtained the models’ consent for publication. “For next year’s poster series, we chose photos some of which have already been published and now appear new because they have been edited; there are also some that have not been used yet,” he explains.

Twenty-eight posters

Since the motto of the poster series has been uncoupled from the Church’s annual motto—since 2020—the team around Björn Renz has been able to break away from the annual rhythm and instead of creating the usual twelve they came up with 28 statements to underline the motto “There’s a place for you here too”. The new series will therefore run two and a quarter years. What comes after that is still open.

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