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How many church sign blunders can you find here?

10 church signs that make people cringe

 

By Darby Jones

The first thing people see in front of a church is the marquee. Many churches think their pithy sayings are witty and attractive, but in reality, the messages may be poorly written and embarrassing. Here is a list of 10 church-sign blunders, as well as some good ideas for messages that are inviting and inspiring.

1. Appearing superior to the reader
Do not shame people into coming to your church. It actually repels people and gives the impression that you're a person who likes to use “50 cent” words. Example: "It's a new year. How about you do something new, like ... go to church?" People who see this might think, "Maybe ... just not this church."

2. Using poor theology
Before posting, it's a good idea to have someone spot check the theological basis behind your quote. Example: "Faith in yourself has won many a race: never quit trying" ... said no one ever in the Bible. 

3. Being cheesy 
Some people already think the church is out of touch with culture. Don’t give them any more ammunition. Example: "Seven days without prayer makes one weak." I can feel the cringe coming on. This approach may get people into the parking lot, but it will likely be to take a selfie and lampoon the picture on social media. And then the people "following" your church will merely be looking forward to the next ridiculous post they can share.

4. Using bad puns
This goes for rhymes, homophones, homonyms and alliteration too. This isn't a fixed rule. It's all subjective, but many times these dandy devices are not funny, clever or profound. Example: "No time to pray makes easy prey." Oh boy. “God always answers knee-mail” is another offender. Yikes.

5. Trying to sound deep, but forgetting how people might interpret it 
The fortune cookie business may be a better path for you if you post signs like, "He who rows the boat doesn’t have time to rock it." Another example: “The most powerful position is on your knees.” Yet another, “Love is like bread; it should be made daily.” No comment here. Consult your youth group.

6. Making light of suffering 
Today's culture doesn't take the idea of hell seriously. Churches that try to be clever about torture only make it worse. Example: “Stop, drop and roll doesn’t work in hell!” Great. Roll it back to the days of hellfire and brimstone ... because that worked.

7. Using poor grammar and/or spelling 
Many people in the secular world consider themselves smarter than Christians. Do you really want to post free advertising for them? Example: "Will the road your on get to my place? ~ God"

8. Quoting God 
The Bible does a great job at quoting God — the best. Don't try to top it. See the example above.

9. Posing rhetorical questions 
A common misconception is that questions on a church sign will persuade someone to come in and find the answer. Most people just turn the question into a rhetorical one and ignore it. Example: "Do you know where you're going when you die?"

10. Using outdated pop-culture
Is your church sign passé? Again, consult your youth group. Example: "Wal-Mart is not the only savings place."

What should a good church sign do?  
1. Invite seekers or those who currently do not attend to the church.
2. Improve the church's image in the community. 
3. Be an outlet for the church to glorify Christ and make him known. 
4. Encourage current members to attend.

The examples above are all cringe-worthy, so why use slogans and sayings like them?

What works?

  • Bible verses that make sense on their own and do not require a theology degree and three chapters of context to understand.
  • Cool secular references that align with Christianity. Example: “Let it be known, there is a fountain that was not made by the hands of men.” ~ Robert Hunter  
  • Worship service days and times (be sure to change seasonally, if appropriate.)
  • Announcements of how the church is working in the community. Example: Habitat build day May 21. Come help!; Pray for flood survivors and workers.
  • General church news (new pastors, exciting growth and new programs). Example: Meet our new pastor July 11; Welcome Rev. Sanchez.; Couple-to couple groups forming. Include a telephone number and or website.
  • Upcoming sermon titles, provided they do not breach any of the above categories.

 

Darby Jones

Darby Jones, Email Marketing Magi, United Methodist Communications. Darby frequently finds himself taking pictures in the parking lot at The Jesus Only Tabernacle. Over the years he's captured many of their rare gems and put his favorites in a special little album dedicated to their church sign.