Billboard to Boost Church Attendance?

Is it a message from God? We'll let you decide.

An East Tennessee Christian Church aiming to grow its congregation is spreading a creative message using outdoor advertising. You may remember the popular "God Billboards" that popped up around town and across the nation. The sayings were the brainchild of an advertising firm from Atlanta.

An anonymous donor from South Florida with 15 million dollars hired the firm in 1998 to develop the concept to encourage people to think about the Almighty. It worked.

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe reports the Corryton Church is using a spin-off of that successful advertising campaign with a "God Billboard" of its own. Is the advertising working?

That's the question that we set out to find out. This Corryton Church is miles from the church located in North Knoxville along Dutch Valley at Coster Road. The outdoor advertising is getting people talking and could eventually help grow the Corryton Church congregation.

Dozens of folks arrive for Wednesday night service at the Corryton Church in North Knox County. Those we talked with say they're drawn to the Christian Church for its style of worship, for its practical message which is based on the Bible, and for the music.

"A co-worker suggested it and we came out here and we haven't been anywhere since. We just love it here," member Michele Goodman said.

The Corryton Church wants to add to its 1,000 member strong congregation. They're advertising to do it. Thousands of motorists pass by this billboard each day as they travel Interstate 640. A message from God tells readers to meet him in Corryton Church this Sunday. We asked folks doing errands or working nearby the billboard, to react to the ad.

"Gets you to thinking, and thinking, you know, that God's actually talking to you about going to church," Melinda Whetsell said.

"I think it's pretty creative and a good way to invite," Donna Cochran said.

At least one man opposes the billboard message and says some church-goers may find it offensive.

"Almost sounds blasphemous. It's like somebody's putting words into God's mouth, and that's not right," Kelly Glover said.

The Corryton Church hopes it gets other people talking and attending services.

"We feel like whenever people come together in praise and worship of God that he meets them there, and so that was the whole crux of the billboard is meet me for worship, God," church deacon Mark Field said.

Parishioners say they'll welcome any newcomers.

"I think anything that gets people's attention and makes them think a little bit does, yes, I think it works!" Goodman said.

Corryton Church is hoping its God billboard is as successful as its predecessors. Back in 1998, the billboards went up about a week before Easter, and church attendance increased by 30 percent.