As I get older, more things that “usta-didn’t” (a proper Southern Illinois contraction) bother me now bother me a lot. Among the things that irritate me are church signs. I am talking about those big signs all churches have in front of them. Some are just painted boards but most have messages that you can change either manually or electronically. Some churches use their signs to convey (what must seem to them) clever sayings. You know like, “Get off Facebook and into my book” or “Jesus is like Coke, He’s the real thing.” The first one at least made a stab at relevance and the second would relate only to people over 50 years old who actually remember that old advertising campaign. I sometimes wonder if Coke pitched in to get some free advertising but I am thinking not. Other churches make theological statements and I truly wonder who they consider their target audience. I am talking stuff like, “We believe in full immersion baptisms” or “Think it is hot today? It is hotter in Hell.” The first one is their prerogative and the second one is incontestable but I really don’t know why you would use your sign this way. Perhaps they envision someone driving by their church on a 102 degree August day when their air conditioner was in need of repair, suddenly becoming convicted of their sin and running inside the church to be fully immersed. If so, I am for it but it seems unlikely to me.
The one thing almost all churches have on their signs (except the huge ones who have signs like colleges or hospitals) are service times and the name of the pastor. Service times are a great idea because if people are looking for a church, you want to let them know when you are meeting but advertising the name of the pastor mystifies me. First of all, unless your pastor is named Joel Osteen, Rick Warren or T.D. Jakes, how does listing the pastor’s name get you anywhere? So to my thinking, the people who go to that church already know the name of the pastor and no one else cares; so why waste the space on the sign? To make matters worse, I have seen some church signs that haven’t been repainted in years except that the pastor’s name spot has been changed so many times it looks like ten years of registration stickers piled up on a license plate. I always think, “Who would want to go to church with preacher eaters?” I have never put my name on the marquee at Christ Church. Never figured Christ needed a costar.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois