Quite a while ago I went to a church because I saw it's ad in the newspaper and I happened to be looking for a church. When I told someone there I came because of the ad, he was astonished. Nobody had every come before because of the ad. While I'm sure some people do pick a church from an ad, I doubt that very many do. While this might suggest that churches simply should not run newspaper ads, I think before they stop they ought to give it another try - but do it differently, with a bit more creativity, and a bit more committment behind it.
What if a church ran an ad something like this:
It is nothing but an offer to pray. Readers don't have to come to the church or do anything except let the church know what they would like prayed for. For that reason alone I think an ad like this might be attractive. But also, I think all the white space in the ad - in addition to being practical - would grab the eye. Finally, this ad requires a reliable prayer team at the church that will take the requests seriously. Otherwise it would just be a bad joke.