What the sign really says

I wish I was making this up…

There is a church just around the corner from mine that has one of those old-school changable marquees in front… No big deal, right? Should make it easy to update people if the service times change, etc. Alas, the sign currently reads; “Our Building is Prayer Conditioned”

Somebody, please, tell me that this is a joke.

Sadly, it’s real… the sign has been like that for a few weeks now.

I am always ready to admit that I am a bit of a cynic (my wife would tell you that “a bit” is a gross understatement), but am I way off base here thinking that this kind of signage appeals only to those inside such a church?

I have been blessed to have worked for two different churches that both have a desire to reach those who have never been in church or used to be in church but walked away for what ever reason; not seeker sensitive, but rather, seeker sensible. What a sign like this says to me is, “we are exclusive”, “we think kitchy sayings are cute”, “we have no idea what people think of us”.

I recently heard a brilliant statement along the lines of, “Your brand isn’t what you say about your organization, it’s what other people say about your organization”. I had never considered that angle before… and now I realize just how true that is! …and I’ve become increasingly aggrivated as I see things like this sign, because, like it or not, people and places like this are doing PR for all of us! I’m not picking on the church around the corner for putting up such platitudes… I get just as fired up about bad t-shirts, bumper stickers and license plates… I’m just venturing a guess that not a single person has walked into that church claiming to be motivated by the ‘prayer conditioning’ sign. When people outside of the Church say that we are out of touch and irrelevant, I can only assume that signs like this add to their disdain.

I’m sure that this church does incorporate prayer into what they do… but a quirky statement about it on the sign out front is not the way to draw people in. I know that “Jesus is the Answer” and I believe it with my whole being… but my neighbors are going to believe it when they see me acting as Jesus did much sooner than if I only wore a t-shirt that says as much.

Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 1 John 3:19

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Slogans will never save a single soul, but…

I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. Mark 9:41

At the end of it all, would you rather have people say that your church is full of folks who love God and care about people, or “they sure had cute sayings on their sign”?

4 comments on “What the sign really says

  1. I have always passed these signs and thought…”Stupid Christians!” and I am a follower of Christ.

  2. I have no idea about the church you mentioned, but maybe the saying is more than just kitsch. It might be genuine satire at their own expense — kind of like a low income pastor that drives an old Ford Pinto with a plate frame that reads, “My Other Car is a Fiery Chariot.” It’s stupid humor — of course it’s totally stupid — but that’s the point. If you take yourself too seriously, you won’t get it. Cars are status symbols, and for church’s, so are buildings. If your building leaves a lot to be desired, you could pine after one of those big budget jobs, or you could just take a light-hearted shot at materialism and live on. You might think it reeks of exclusivity, but they might be weary of the kind of hustling and pandering which frankly affords a lot of the air-conditioned buildings out there. It certainly is a bit childish, but it isn’t even slightly irreverent. You seem serious about appealing to seekers, and you seem to have identified your target market so to speak: “those who have never been in church or used to be in church but walked away for what ever reason.” I don’t question your unwillingness to compromise in order to include them, but what do you think is the right motive for them to respond to the church’s proposition? I mean, even if they did respond to kitschy platitudes, the church might not really want people that are motivated by such things. So if the church wants people with the right motives to respond to whatever it is the church does to attract them, what would you say those motives are?

  3. The previous sign at that church was “Inspire to aspire before you expire.” My 10-year-old asked me, “Is that really a CHURCH?!”

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