Give me a sign

Does your church have a sign?  Our church sign in Chatham is a slate marker with the church name, date, and pastor’s name.  The sign complements our Victorian Gothic sanctuary and fits the historic character of our town, but it doesn’t do much in the way of adverstising for us because there’s no place for a message.   Sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

Which brings me to a church sign I saw yesterday.  You know the kind — moveable letters on 3 or 4 lines.  Are you ready for the message posted on it?  “Got Jesus?  It’s hell without him.”  A lovely sentiment to display on a busy highway at the beginning of the Christmas season.  Obviously this church was not aware of my  “Four Rules for Church Signs”

Rule #1:  Be positive.  The church I pastored in Atlanta had a marquee sign.  One day I posted, “Enthusiasm is the sparkplug of life.”  A photographer for the Atlanta Journal saw the message on the way to work, called me, and later photographed me standing beside the sign for the next edition of the paper.  The photo of me was really bad, but at least the message on the sign was positive. 

Think this is hot? Just Wait! (see disclaimer at end of this post)

Rule #2:  Be caring.  On a hot day this summer I saw a church sign that read, “If you think this is hot, just wait.”  I am not making this up.  Do I need to point out the obvious?  Clever maybe, but certainly not caring.

Rule #3:  Be clear.  Church signs should communicate a clear, concise message that passers-by can read and understand at 40 miles-per-hour.  One day in Atlanta I posted the message — “Happy Hour, 11 AM Each Sunday.”   I thought it was really cute, but it was not clear to unchurched folks who read it.  I heard about that message from more than one passer-by — and a few church members, too!

Rule #4.  Put yourself in your readers’ shoes.  Church sign messages can either attract or repel those who read them.  I always wanted to say something to uplift, welcome, encourage, or inspire those who read our sign.  View your sign from an outsider’s standpoint.  Ask yourself — If I didn’t go to this church, would this message draw me in or push me away? 

Church signs communicate to everyone who passes your church.  Make sure they get the message you want them to. 

Thanks to the folks at for the “fake” sign above.  But, I really saw this message on a real sign!

6 thoughts on “Give me a sign”

  1. Chuck,
    Some of the worst things I ever read are on church signs! There’s one church I pass to and from church that always makes me cringe. Good words on church signs, I think I’ll pass this along to our “sign guy.”

  2. I am still a member of a church where Chuck pastored some 25 years ago. We had such a sign (and still do) on a busy, busy road where some 25,000 cars pass each day. Over the years we have continued to use the sign in a very positive way, but never as effectively as when Chuck was our pastor. These are wise words, and they are words that work. A sign can be a truly beneficial extension for the ministry and message of the gospel if is properly and faithfully used. This might be the only postive infuluence that the church may exert on many in the community who would never actually join in a formal worship service.

  3. Jim, you are very kind and right about the influence a sign can have. We had some fun with our sign in Stone Mountain, but I think we also made an impact, too. 25,000 cars a day — what an opportunity!

  4. I think the real sign at Chatham Baptist is perhaps more subtle. It not a square thing with a worded message on it, but lighted windows, a busy parking lot, people of all sorts coming and going, and a feeling that something good happens here and around here; and it does!

  5. i agree in many ways with you, we christians must be christ like. so that brings up the real question of what christ like is. is it what we have been taught in sunday school all these years or is christ not only love, grace and mercy, but vengence on disobedience. now, people resond differently. some only hear the love part., but he love part is going to judge someday. so, one makes a choice, we pretty much know about the Lord , he has told us pretty clearly, the rest of the decisions are up to us. so, if we pastors only use the syurp part, will some not dewell there is really a hell and i might really go there unless i obey the Lord in his truth? so, a sign that wakes people up in good taste, maye even somewhat shocking to someone who does not have god on their mind, i think may be a good thing.

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