Monster Truck Church Ad

February 24, 2006 by

“This Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! It’s a sacramental showdown at St. Andrew’s Episcopal…”

So begins a 60-second ad that’s making the rounds among Episcopalians. It advertises St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Ala. But it’s not an official radio spot for the church.

Mike McKenzie created the ad for fun. 41-year-old McKenzie is the creative services director for Cox Radio of Birmingham and a St. Andrew’s parishioner.

“It wasn’t with the intention of making a commercial–I was just goofying around,” says McKenzie. “The idea hit me right after 10:30 mass–it’s high mass, very formal liturgy. What would happen if you took formal liturgy and combined it with a monster truck rally?”

The result is McKenzie’s ad. He passed it on to church leadership and it started making the rounds. The ad has not aired on the radio yet, and while the debate continues about whether or not it will air, others are taking notice. The Episcopal Media Center covered the story:

“This is not a joke. It’s for real. And while some might call it sacrilegious, not sacramental, many are calling it oh-so-clever and proof that Episcopalians have a healthy sense of humor”

Written by The Episcopal Media Center’s Director of Marketing Communications Nan Ross, the article (which isn’t online) quotes St. Andrew’s rector Marc Burnette:

“People are ready for some playfulness. These are tense times in our church. While this doesn’t match everyone’s sense of humor, the overwhelming majority love it.”

While the monster truck spot is getting all the attention, McKenzie also created an airline spot that he sent to us.

“[Even] if nothing comes of it, at least we got a kick out of it,” says McKenzie.

Monster Truck Liturgy (1.7 MB .mp3, :59)

Airline Liturgy (1.8 MB .mp3, 1:01)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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16 Responses to “Monster Truck Church Ad”

  • Roger
    February 24, 2006

    Speaking of proof reading: “So beings a 60-second ad that’s making the rounds among Episcopalians.”

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  • Alicia
    February 24, 2006

    I second the first comment!
    I love your site, though.

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    February 24, 2006

    Guilty as charged, Roger. My bad. It’s corrected now.

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  • Paul
    February 24, 2006

    Wow! My wife’s site gets a link from church marketing sucks and my sister in law’s church gets an article. I am so jealous. I thought it was a great ad, especially for Alabama, although the church’s demographic isn’t really the monster truck group.
    Still fun though.

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  • Visual Church Works
    February 24, 2006

    Church Marketing Sucks: Monster Truck Church Ad

    This one makes me very, very happy. Mike McKenzie over at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church has created two very entertaining radio spots (be sure to check out the Airline

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  • felix hominum
    February 25, 2006

    “Monster Truck” church ad

    What happens when you cross a high church liturgy with a monster truck rally? The offspring is now available for us all to hear, if not to see. An ad featuring an episcopal church in the US has been produced

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  • Conservative Culture
    February 26, 2006

    Church’s Monster Truck Ad

    The Episcopal Church has a number of problems trying to get the Scripture thing right. In fact they may be as creative with their new ad as the denomination has been with Scripture. Just consider their attack on one of the leaders who was chastised fo…

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  • Mike (The Monster Truck Guy" McKenzie
    March 3, 2006

    Greetings and peace. Thank you for taking the time to listen to that “train wreck” I so aptly titled “Monster Truck Liturgy.”
    First off, let me say how touched, moved, and-even inspired by the debate and comments from everyone, including those who are not amused. But because of their love of Christ, the Liturgy, corporate worship, and the spirit of agape, have taken the time to diplomatically state their discomfort.
    That’s beautiful! That’s why I love being an Episcopalian. Color me naieve, however I’d like to think that Episcopalians aren’t so much like-minded as they are willing to either agree to disagree, or at least hear each other out.
    This is also affirmation to me that God has planted me with the right group of people for corporate worship.
    My motives, or creation of this thing wasn’t for attention or personal gain.
    I was simply hit by “the goofy muse.”
    I write and produce radio ad campaigns for a living. When I have down time in my studio, I will blow off a little creative steam. When I go back and look at other pieces I have done, I notice that most of them base their humor, or punch line, on polarity.
    “Monster Truck Liturgy” is not just a source of amusement for me. It is inspired by the overwhelming joy I receive from the Eucharist. It is an abstract way of showing the endless fascination I have with the paradoxical nature of our Liturgy.
    Maybe it’s because I am a creative person. Maybe it’s human nature. But, I am attracted to paradox the way a moth is attracted to a bug zapper.
    I was “corn bread and fed” in a Baptist Church. For the first 11 years of my school career, I was educated in Baptist Schools. I was reared by a God-fearing, loving southern Mother and a loving, progressive-minded atheist Father. (I know you’re asking how did that happen-they met at Halloween weiny roast in south Alabama and the weekly cow-tipping olympics had been canceled so there was nothing else to do that night)
    But, you can see why my whole existence has been about contrasts.
    Mom had my sister and I in church every day the doors were opened. And even then some, as she being church seceratary had her own set of keys.
    Having grown up in the – (pardon my baggage here, okay?) -the “fire and brimstone modus operundi” where you are fed by the fear of God, and really have no spiritual, let alone intellectual concept of the love of God. I was about fed up by the time I was old enough to not have to go to church.
    The day after my 19th birthday, August 30, 1983, I walked away from the church for what I figured would be forever.
    Over the next 22 years, I might, every-once-in-a-while, attend a service at a church here or there. But, only because I had a crush on the girl who invited me, or for some other alterior motive. I was always up-front about my motives and objection with what I called “organized and institutionalized religion.”
    Then came Easter Sunday of 2005.
    By invitation of my cousin, I attended Easter Mass at St. Andrew’s. (no, I didn’t have a crush on him-I know this is Alabama-but gee whiz)
    St. Andrew’s is what folks here in the south will call “high church.” Depending on how far south you go, the word “high” can have more than one sylable. For instance, a proper southerner, like my cousin would say “HIIIIIIIIIIIIGH church.”
    So, Easter Sunday, I dawned a coat and tie and went two blocks from my house to “HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH church.”
    Even though I held no affiliation, nor fondness of the Baptist church, it was-after all, all I knew about church. And, the particular congregations I grew up in were real bad about the “we’re right and everyone else is wrong” kind of thing. So, I was not without my own pre-concieved notions regarding “HIIIIIIIIIIIIGH church.”
    Maybe that was a good thing. Becaue, after all, sometimes you learn better when you find out things aren’t always what you thought they were.
    I expected the chanting. I expecting the “smaells and bells.” But, what I didn’t expect was how all of that came togehter and worked for a reason.
    The moments of being quiet, truly quiet with a blank slate mind, let to a moment of crystal clarity. Then came a sudden feeling of sweet relief, not unlike the one you feel after having hauled your washer and dryer up three-stories of apartment building stairs.
    Wait a minute. This isn’t routine ritual. Despite all the flowery descriptive names for everything Episcopalian; the vestments, the ornate fixturesl, the incense, and pavlovian nature of standing and rising on cue. This is the royal protocol of welcoming The Holy Spirit as God manifests himself in that bread and wine.
    Woah, what’s that? Great HG Wells! I just stepped into a time machine. Christ himself, with an ever-so-sweet, assuring smile just handed me a piece of broken bread and has placed a chalice next to my lips.
    This is truly an epiphany-or at least my personal definition of one; that being a simultaneous realization of both heart and mind.
    This isn’t just to honor Christ. This isn’t just “do in rememberance of me.” Christ is here with me. I am here with him. He’s not at all unhappy with me. As a matter of fact, he’s real happy I am here. And, he really seems to like this goofy, white boy just the way I am.
    Well, needless to say, I became a junkie, hankering for my next bread and wine fix.
    Let me say too, that had it not been the fact that the man behind the pulpit was Fr. Marc Burnette, I don’t think it would have been that moving an experience. No, he’s not a prophet, per se. But, he’s not a preacher. He’s a FABULOUS TEACHER! He is also someone that I can identify with. He’s not some out-of-touch, stodgy, self-important wind bag. This is a guy who has walked in my shoes. And I his. He has a profound sense of humor.
    And he really digs the same kind of music, movies and books I do, too!
    I can’t begin to tell you just how much my quality of life has improved because my renewed faith, and loving relationship with God, through Christ.
    And I am so thankful to, and for, all of you for being able to share that.
    It is not my intent to be the least bit irreverant when it comes to God. After all “….I am fearfully and wonderfully made….”
    The Lord’s Peace, my friends, and keep laughing
    Warmest Regards
    -Mike McKenzie

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  • Paul Clifford
    March 14, 2006

    I’d love to stick those in my podcast feed. I’d host them so you don’t take the bandwidth hit. Would that be okay?

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  • Helen
    March 17, 2006

    toooo funny…I loved it…don’t think I would ever use it but
    I love it

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  • LameZone
    March 20, 2006

    Sunday Sunday Sunday!

    Earlier today, I was looking at links in my inbox. One of my subscriptions is for the tag “Christian”. This popped up.
    So there’s this site that has the goal of doing better websites for various churches and ministrie…

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    March 21, 2006

    I don’t know if you have to be Episcopal to get this…

    Dude. What if you crossed the Episcopal Church with a monster truck rally? You’ll get this.
    It was funny until the call and response near the end, and then I fell down.

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  • Adrants
    March 22, 2006

    Self-Referential Church Ads Remove Stuffy Stigma With Humor

    Adrants reader John Brock sent us this amusing radio commercial, created as a joke by church member Mike McKenzie, for Birmingham, AL St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. The spot mirrors the tone and style of those monster truck “Suuuundaaaaaaay” commercia…

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  • Mathis
    March 27, 2006

    I hope this ad never makes it to press–then again, I hope it does. It might wake up a few sleepy Christians in Evangelicaldom or Liberaldom. They might realize that too many people trivilize Christ’s Church. They might demand a serious call of repentance & transformation within the mainline churches.
    Then again, maybe not.

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  • dave kreitzer
    August 9, 2006

    What happens if the excitement promised by the Monster Truck Church Ad cannot be delivered in the liturgy of the church? How can a church service match the decibels and diesel of a Monster Truck show? I guess they could turn up the volume on the speakers and burn pieces of rubber instead of incense.
    My point is that there will be an obvious dichotomy between the “crazed excitement” of the ad and the worship service, no matter how wild and contemporary the service. How do you get people to come back after they are confronted with this bifurcation between fantasy and reality?

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  • Teresa
    July 11, 2007

    I think the ad is great. The whole reason the monster truck ads are what they are is to draw attention to them, and this ad certainly does that. The word “church” in it makes it not misleading in the least. It says right out that it is going to be a church service, not a truck event. But the excitement shows that its by someone who loves all of it. It says “Come, take a second look at church.” Good job, Paul!
    P.S. I like the airline ad, too. Very creative and imaginative!

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