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!