Friday, August 11, 2006

Signs, Signs, Everywhere there's signs...

Planting a church has opened my eyes to many things church related. I've noticed how many churches choose to market themselves through their marquees. Living in the Bible belt, I see lots of church marquees. And I'll start by saying that I've never seen a good church marquee. I quite often ask myself, "What were they thinking?" Seriously, do these marquees bring people into the kingdom? Do people drive by and say, "You know, they are right. I need to go to that church."? If you know someone who came to faith because of a church marquee, would you comment about it below?

The signs I see are mostly Christian wittisisms that speak to the people inside more than they speak to the people outside. If they do speak to the people outside, it's usually negative because the people inside don't understand how to speak to those on the outside. A church marquee near my home dares people to try their web site. If they really understood people, it would double-dog dare you to try their web site. One sign says, "Tell Satan to go to hell...He needs to go home." If you are reading this, and you are in charge of your community's signage, just put your service times up, or special events you're having. As a tool for advertising, advertise your product instead of saying, "Come inside...We're prayer-conditioned."

Here's the real point, though: Your people should be your signs. Jesus made that clear when He said things like, "By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you love one another." or "Let your light so shine before men that they see your good deeds and they glorify your Father in Heaven." Trust me, people living missional (making disciples) and incarnational (the presence of Jesus in the real world) lives are a much better outreach tool than your marquee.


Da Bishop's Wife said...

Very well written!

Johnny Leckie said...

Hey, Jason!

I did a post on this very thing, back in April. There's some wacky stuff out there!

Glad to see you're doing well!

3dfleming said...

Hey! I came to know Jesus through a church marquee! It said, "CH CH... What's missing: U R!" And then I was like, Holy mother of sweet 8 lb 4 oz baby Jesus, I'm missing church! I gotta get in there! What am I missing?! It's gotta be good! So that's the real reason I showed up in church almost a decade ago (feel old, I do). It had nothing to do w/ my mom finding my stash.

Robby Partain said...

Jason - You are right. The signs are merely displays of "insider churchianity." They are a way that club members pat themselves on the back for being, well, clever club members. They either are totally meaningless to non-club members (best case scenario) or they give a negative, holier-than-thou impression.

The best missional use of a church sign, as with all church marketing, is to communicate information that is relevant to a pre-Christian person in your mission field (an event, ministry, etc).

Research idea: Correlate the type of message on church signs with missional indicators in church life.


Billy V said...

My favorite: the South Fort Worth Baptist Temple
Stop Lying to Your Kids!
Santa is a fake, Jesus is the reason for the season.

Em said...

I think we should take up a collection and put up a marquee outside of The World Wide Headquarters or put it in your front yard that announces gathering times!

cameron said...

Personally, I've always thought the way you do about the wacky signs, and the witness of our own lives should be the best advertisement for our churches. But in all honesty, at our church lately we actually have had people come in off the street lately to see what was happening just because they saw our sign. It sounds crazy (our latest phrase is "Satan is no atheist") but people in our community genuinely have noticed it and really have come to the church to find out what we were all about due to nothing but the sign.

WTJeff said...


Jeff Parsons in Amarillo here. We crossed paths occassionally in our youth ministry days -- usually at Super Summer-- I think. Anyway, it's good to see you're pastoring and I love the name of your church! (It's the same name we used for a house church I lead up here for awhile.)

Good word on the signs. Christianity has perpetuated enough steroetypes. It's time we took on a missional mentality and saw ourselves as missionaries wherever God has put us.