Who’s behind those ‘He Gets Us’ ads about Jesus?

He Gets Us A He Gets Us ad in Washington, D.C. | Credit: He Gets Us
He Gets Us A He Gets Us ad in New York City | Credit: He Gets Us
He Gets Us A He Gets Us ad | Credit: He Gets Us

Television, internet, and billboard ads encouraging people to take a deeper look at Jesus have been running across the U.S. since March, thanks to the nondenominational Christian campaign He Gets Us.

With a $100 million price tag and planned Super Bowl spots, He Gets Us is an initiative of the Servant Foundation. The foundation is managed by the Kansas-based foundation and donor-advised fund The Signatry.

“Funding for He Gets Us comes from a diverse group of individuals and entities with a common goal of sharing Jesus’ story authentically,” Jason Vanderground, spokesperson for He Gets Us, told CNA Dec. 2.

The specific donors are tough to discover. In March, Christianity Today reported that the funds came from “a small group of wealthy anonymous families.”

The Signatry was founded in the year 2000 by Bill High, a Kansas lawyer turned philanthropic adviser. The fund has received more than $4 billion in contributions and has helped make more than $3 billion in charitable grants, its website says. 

According to its website, The Signatry funds “discipleship and outreach efforts, Bible translations, cultural care, church plants, anti-human-trafficking missions, student ministries, poverty alleviation, clean water initiatives, and so much more.”

A He Gets Us ad in New York City. Credit: He Gets Us
A He Gets Us ad in New York City. Credit: He Gets Us

The He Gets Us website describes its campaign as “a movement to reintroduce people to the Jesus of the Bible and his confounding love and forgiveness. We believe his words, example, and life have relevance in our lives today and offer hope for a better future.”

The organization says it is not a political organization of any kind and has no church or denominational affiliation.

“We simply want everyone to understand the authentic Jesus as he’s depicted in the Bible — the Jesus of radical forgiveness, compassion, and love,” its website says.

He Gets Us partners include the National Association of Evangelicals and Christianity Today Magazine, Religion News Service reported.

A He Gets Us ad. Credit: He Gets Us
A He Gets Us ad. Credit: He Gets Us

In a series of Instagram posts, the campaign asks: “Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever felt betrayed? Have you ever been unfairly judged? So was Jesus.”

One video ad depicts Jesus as a rebel and his disciples as a gang that drew opposition from community and religious leaders for spreading love, not hate.

Another ad describes a controversial figure who drew opposition, challenges, and insults. He refused to retaliate “because he believed he could change the world… by turning the other cheek.” It closes with the phrase “Jesus gets us.”

Since the campaign launched in March, it has reached more than 120 million people in the U.S., according to Vanderground. It has aired ads during prime-time national television and major live sports broadcasts. Its short videos, in English and Spanish, have received 374 million views on YouTube.

The campaign aims to provoke interest from non-Christians.

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Visitors to the He Gets Us website will find articles that describe Jesus as someone who “invited everyone to sit at his table.” They describe how Jesus was “fed up with politics, too” and how he faced criticism. “How would Jesus be judged today?” another article asks.

To the question of what Jesus would think of teen moms, it notes that Jesus was born to a teenage Mary.

The He Gets Us website offers reading plans about Jesus, drawing on Bible passages. The campaign offers a text-message system for users to receive messages of prayer or positivity. The website can connect those interested with someone local to learn about Jesus or with groups where they can ask questions about life and faith.

“Our hope is that you see how Jesus experienced challenges and emotions just like we have. We want to provide a safe place to ask questions, including the tough ones,” the website explains. “We are also about sharing Jesus’ openness to people that others might have excluded. His message went out to all. And though you may see religious people as often hypocritical or judgmental, know that Jesus saw that, too — and didn’t like it either. Instead, Jesus taught and offered radical compassion and stood up for the marginalized.”

The website offers T-shirts, hats, and stickers with the phrases “Jesus was wrongly judged” or “Jesus was an immigrant.” They are available free of charge, provided the person placing the order has shown love to a stranger, forgiven someone, or paid someone a compliment.

Vanderground said that although He Gets Us is not associated with any particular denomination or church, many Catholics are involved in the development of the campaign and it has received positive feedback from Catholic media.

“As we work to call up Christians to reflect Jesus and prepare them for new conversations with spiritual explorers, it is vital that we engage Catholics who represent 70 million people in the U.S.,” he said.

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The He Gets Us campaign plans to make a special impact at a time when many Americans are watching their televisions early next year.

“We are excited about the opportunity to have two ads during the upcoming Super Bowl on Feb. 12, 2023,” Vanderground said. “He Gets Us is just eight months into a long-term, sustained effort to create a new movement to increase the respect and relevance for Jesus in our culture and call up Christians to reflect him in their interactions with others.”