Evangelical Group Scores With 'John 3:16' Ad During Broncos-Patriots Game

By Patrick Burke | January 18, 2012 | 9:13pm EST

Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos kneels in prayer. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(CNSNews.com) -  An evangelical Christian group says it is pleased at the outpouring of encouraging feedback it has received for its “John 3:16” television commercial, which aired during the Denver Broncos–New England Patriots game last Saturday night.

“It’s overwhelmingly positive through a variety of channels -- social media, our Web site, phone calls,” said Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media relations at the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family.

During the commercial, a group of small children recite the biblical passage from John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.”

A small minority of people were upset over the message, Schneeberger said. But the Colorado Springs-based ministry also heard from one man in particular who shared the story how the commercial had an effect on a personal level.

“A man wrote on his Twitter page about the half an hour after the ad aired in the second quarter of the game, that he was watching the game with his two boys. And his two sons, after seeing the ad, accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior,” he told CNSNews.com. “That is the metric that matters.”

The inspiration for the commercial came from Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, after witnessing the amount of Internet activity associated with John 3:16 the week before, during the Broncos’ playoff win against the Steelers.

“(T)he Internet went crazy with people looking up what John 3:16 meant,” Schneeberger explained. “So knowing that there was great interest from folks in what John 3:16 meant, we wanted to make it easier for them so that they wouldn’t have to get up and look at the computer while watching and enjoying the game with their families -- they could have it read to them. So that was really the motivation for that.

The young Denver quarterback, who threw for 316 yards and averaged 31.6 yards per completion, often wears “John 3:16” on his eye-black during games. John 3:16 is Tebow’s favorite Bible verse.

“Knowing that there was great interest from folks in what John 3:16 meant, we wanted to make it easier for them so that they wouldn’t have to get up and look at the computer while watching and enjoying the game with their families,” Schneeberger told CNSNews.com.

The decision to create the ad was spur-of-the-moment.

“The interesting thing about this ad is that we didn’t even come up with the idea for it until the Tuesday before it ran,” Schneeberger said.

“So we had managed to produce all that stuff, clearly God had a plan for it, in just over 3 days -- you might say 3.16 days if you’re doing the percentages. But -- and that’s literally true, it was all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, and we delivered the ad after one of our team members took a red-eye flight to New York very early in the morning on Friday. So it was three full days and a little blip on the fourth day, which could add up, give or take a percent, (to) 3.16 days.”

Tebow and his mother appeared in a Focus on the Family ad during the Super Bowl two years ago, and the organization continues to have a relationship with the quarterback, whose kneeling for prayer during games has become known as “Tebowing.”

“Folks on our team have a relationship with folks in Tim’s family and on Tim’s team. You know, they talk periodically,” Schneeberger said. “Tim obviously very busy the last six months or so. He’ll be pretty busy in the offseason it seems with endorsement deals and getting ready for the new season.

“We’re just thrilled that a young man of Tim’s character and integrity has had both the success on the field and demonstrated the character off the field that he has.”

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