Early in my ministry to persons within the mentally challenged community, I learned that using the public forum for publicity for a ministry to persons who are developmentally disabled may not be the best thing.  Parents with children who have disabilities are leery of publicity that is “too cute” or too forward.  Because of exploitation, parents want to be sure that where they send their children is a safe haven.  Therefore, publicity is tricky business for any ministry that desires to be successful within this population. 

At The Special Gathering, we prefer to use word of mouth and personal endorsements to promote our over all ministry.  However, each year I struggle when it comes to our Christmas play.  We usually have about 300 people who come to our Melbourne program and approximately 200 at our Vero program.  Yet, it’s taken us years to get that many people there.  And I’m aware that as soon as people aren’t prompted to attend, they won’t be there. 

There are other Special Gathering plays that are preformed.  Our Cocoa and Titusville programs also have a play on December 21 in north Cocoa.  Our South Carolina program will have a musical production this year. 

My questions are: 

  • How do you best let people know about this kind of production?  Is our monthly newsletter enough?  Or should be try to do more?
  • Should we encourage people who are not part of the mentally challenged community to attend?  After all, it is the local churches who pay for this ministry through their donations.  Shouldn’t they also be invited?
  • Can flyers and posters be put into local workshops? 
  • What about posters in grocery stores and local businesses?  Would that be overkill?
  • How do you effectively insure that parents are invited?  This is one part of the audience that you want to attend.  While we try to know all of our parents personally, there are people who live in group homes who have parents that we have never met.
  • What about parents whose children don’t attend our program?  How do we convince them to attend?

The first year we were in Vero, I presented a pitiful plea to a pastor’s group to please attend our play.  “I just pray we have 10 or 15 people,” I had told them.  We had been operating in Indian River County for less than a year and almost no one knew who we were.  One of the churches brought about 25 people.  I was so grateful.  I’ve deeply loved that pastor ever since that time.

Each year, it seems that the time slips up too quickly and our play is on top of us and I feel that I’ve not done nearly what I wanted to do in regard to publicity.  Our members and choir labor so hard to do a good job that I hate for them to be disappointed.  However, God graciously sends the people he wants there. 

Are there some things that you have found that work for you in regard to the play and prodcutions you have for your community?

Oh, by the way,

You are invited to attend The Special Gathering of Indian River Christmas Event

Above All Else

A Christmas Musical

In Vero

7:00pm–Saturday, December 6

Tabernacle Ministries

at 51 Old Dixie Highway

_________________

In Melbourne

7:00pm–Sunday December 7

First United Methodist Church–Celebration Cafe

110 E New Haven Avenue

Come.  Bring a friend.  All of the cast and choir are members of The Special Gathering