5 Church Sign Fails (and 100 Ways to Avoid Them)
December 8, 2017 |
Whether they’ve driven past one on their way to work, scrolled by a funny one on Facebook, or created a Pinterest board dedicated to them, everyone’s seen a church sign. They’re the marquees that sit outside of a church and often feature inspirational, thoughtful, or (hopefully) funny messages.
Church Signs: Old-School Tweets
Long before Twitter was the platform of choice for comfortable communicating in limited space, the Church had been using simple signs to communicate short messages to people strolling past.
These include things like:
To be forgiven people, we must be forgiving people.
Unvarnished little statements like this are quick to read and fairly easy to digest. And minutes after passing by the sign, people can still ponder its point.
These quips are seen by a lot of people who’ve never actually visited a church and have their own ideas about what churches are like. A message like this can be a non-confrontational way to challenge their impression of what the church is like. But if it’s done carelessly, it can also confirm their negative suspicions.
So it’s best to really think through your sign’s message, considering not only its intended point but also the ways that it could be misinterpreted. Before we look at some fun church sign ideas, here are some examples of things you’ll want to avoid:
5 Church Sign Disasters
Before we go any further, let’s look at a couple examples of church signs that miss the mark. Sometimes the tone is wrong, and sometimes they communicate something entirely different than what was intended. And occasionally they miss the mark because they were a little too confrontational.
Don’t let worries kill you
Let the church help
Here’s a perfect example of a church in need of an editor. The point they intend to make to people passing by is, “You’re not alone. This community of faith can help you with life’s challenges.”
If they’d bothered to have a couple people look at the sign beforehand, they would have seen that it really said: “This church wants to make things more difficult for you.” The message is so tone deaf that it’s actually pretty hilarious—for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, it resonates with people’s feelings that the church hurts more than helps.
Another example of church signs that have failed in this way is one I saw that says, “We love hurting people.” I get what you’re aiming for here, but that’s way off the mark.
Do you know what hell is?
Come hear our preacher
Here’s a classic example of a message gone awry. It’s intended to advertise a provocative sermon on hell, but it unwittingly does the opposite. I’m guessing the pastor didn’t really want a church sign that told the community, “Sitting through this sermon is going to be the most miserable experience you can imagine.”
Easier to spell than Hannukah
First of all, I’m not sure if they intended to misspell Hanukkah or not. I suppose it works both ways. And I’m sure that this sign was intended to make people chuckle—but it just gives the wrong impression.
A lot of people think that Christians are disdainful of other religions and their traditions. With that comes a feeling that Christians just can’t be bothered to understand others’ customs. This sign plays into both of those stereotypes. On top of that, it diminishes the important thing that truly sets Christmas apart—the birth of the Messiah.
Turn your brain off
Let the Spirit take over
There’s definitely a point to be made about how intellectualism and rationalism can get in the way of a person’s relationship with God. But it’s a nuanced and complex point that doesn’t lend itself to a marquee.
In this format, the message affirms what people already believe about the church: It’s full of nitwits who can’t be bothered to think for themselves.
Another example: A free thinker is Satan’s slave. The point of Christianity is a renewed mind, not that we should let someone else think for us.
Hang out with Jesus
He hung out for you
Here’s a church sign that completely misses the mark. Forget for a moment that “hang out with Jesus” doesn’t mean anything to most people who will see this. Marvel, instead, at the disrespectful way this alludes to the crucifixion.
This takes an act of such profound sacrifice and reduces it to an overly common, bro-like vernacular. It’s critical that in your attempt to be witty and inspirational that you don’t end up diminishing the gospel.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Church Sign
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to go off the rails when choosing a message for your church. If you want to display something that’s going to connect with people, here are some rules you want to consider:
- Be careful trying to convict people: You have a sign that everyone sees. It seems like a perfect opportunity to put your community on blast, right? Wrong. A lot of people already think that the church is full of hyper-critical finger pointers, and a judgemental church sign will only confirm this impression.
You can, however, get away with a convicting message if it’s more humorous and universal. When it doesn’t feel like you’re saying “church people are good and everyone else is bad,” it’s a lot more palatable.
- Run the idea through a couple people: It’s good to have a few people around to help you think through the implications of a particular sign. One church tried to capitalize on the reality show “The Biggest Loser,” but failed miserably. The sign said, “If you don’t know Jesus, you are The Biggest Loser,” and here’s a couple reasons it was a big failure:
- On the show, the “biggest loser” wins. So it’s an extremely mixed and confusing message for the people it’s trying to communicate with.
- Calling people names is a terrible way to convince them that you’re right.
- You’ve turned them off before you can explain why Jesus is important.
- Remember the sign’s role: I don’t care how many characters you can fit on your marquee—it can’t function as your preacher, Sunday school teacher, or counselor. It can be a great conversation starter and break down some of your community’s assumptions of the Church. But if you’re trying to use it to communicate nuanced or complex ideas, it’s going to be a failure.
- Show respect to sacred things: Remember the “he hung out for you” sign? That’s a perfect example of how easy it is to devalue sacred things when you’re trying to be funny. But if you can’t speak reverently about important elements of Christianity, you can’t expect others to take it seriously.
Now that we’ve looked at some of pitfalls and best practices for choosing church sign messages, here is a compilation of potential signs for you throughout the year. They’re separated by major holidays, and there’s also a section of messages that work all year around.
Church Signs for New Years
Here is a collection of touching, witty, and scriptural signs to use during the month of January. Most of them focus on the idea of new opportunities and a chance to start again.
- This year shoot for progress, not perfection.
- Today is the first day….of the rest of eternity.
- New year, same God.
- New beginnings found here.
- God’s always up for a do-over.
- Growth is about daily commitments, not yearly resolutions.
- Lucky for us, God never breaks His resolutions.
- God’s ready to begin a new chapter in your life.
- If you’re ready for a reset, our doors are open.
- New year. New beginning. New you?
- Our New Year’s resolution? 1020×1280
- Hey! Check out our Auld Lang Sign!
- Let’s try this again.
- Free leftover fruitcake. Come take it. Please.
- Resurrection empowered resolutions available here.
- New year. Who dis?
- Unlike the gym, there’s room for you here in January.
- A resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
- May your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!
- Make it your New Year’s Resolution to take down the Christmas lights by Easter.
- Let us not become weary in doing good. (Galatians 6:9)
- There is a time for everything. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
- Resolved: To do justly. Love Mercy. Walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)
- But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13
- The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:12)
Church Signs for Good Friday and Easter
Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are the most important events in human history. It’s likely that Easter Sunday is the service with the best attendance. A good church sign can help attract people who are looking for a place to worship on Easter morning.
Good Friday Signs
- This is how much I love you. —God
- When life isn’t a bed of roses, remember who wore the thorns.
- We owed a debt we couldn’t pay. Christ paid a debt He didn’t owe.
- By His wounds, you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
- For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. (John 3:16)
- We are Easter people, and hallelujah is our song.
- Easter is about hope, renewal, and new life.
- It’s because of Easter that we celebrate Christmas.
- Because of Easter, death doesn’t get the last word.
- Lives again our glorious King. Where, O death, is now thy sting?
- Easter: It’s not just something to dye for.
- It’s not about the bunny. It’s about the Lamb.
- Easter: You can’t keep a good man down.
- You can put truth in the grave, but it won’t stay there.
- Easter: You can put all your eggs in this basket.
- “He is not here; He has risen.” (Mark 16:6)
- “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb….” (Luke 24:2)
- “I am the resurrection and the life.” —Jesus (John 11:25)
- “It is true! The Lord has risen….” (Luke 24:34)
- “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Church Signs for Mother’s day
Along with Christmas and Easter, Mother’s Day is the Sunday where you can expect the most visitors. If you have a visible church sign, this is an opportune time to draw some attention to your church and pull in families who are looking for a service to attend.
- 3 Ways to get something done: Hire someone, do it yourself, or forbid your kids to do it.
- A mother’s best gift is prayer.
- Choosy moms choose Jesus.
- If evolution were true, wouldn’t moms have, like, six arms?
- All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. —Abraham Lincoln
Church Signs for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of the United State’s most beloved holidays. Because gratitude is such an important element in a Christian’s life, it’s a perfect celebration to commemorate on your church sign.
- Let our lives be full of thanks and giving.
- We don’t need more to be thankful for; we need to be more thankful.
- Gratitude transforms everything.
- What do thankful people do? They give.
- Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. (Ps. 136:1)
Church Signs for Christmas
Christmas is such an integral part of Western culture, and since the Advent season is weeks long, you can cycle through a number of signs. You don’t necessarily need to choose between humorous, scriptural, or inspirational—you can use them all.
- Who followed Jesus at his birth? Wise men.
- Come discover how a baby changed everything.
- If Christmas isn’t in your heart, you won’t find it under a tree.
- Christmas isn’t just a season of rejoicing, but also for reflecting.
- Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
- Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there’s room for Jesus.
- We’re still not sure what myrrh is.
- I’m making a list and checking it twice. —God
- Mary wrapped the first Christmas present.
- Long ago in a Galilee far, far away….
- Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…. (Luke 2:14)
- When they saw the star, they rejoiced. (Matthew 2:10)
- For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior…. (Luke 2:11)
- Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace. (Is. 9:6)
- The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…. (John 1:14)
Church Signs for All Year Long
Here are thirty sayings to use on your sign for the rest of the year. If you change your sign weekly, these should help you get through those non-holiday months:
- If practice makes perfect, be careful what you practice.
- No time to pray? Easy prey.
- God’s approval is better than the world’s applause.
- For every Goliath, there’s a stone.
- Faith is a muscle. It gets stronger with exercise.
- Worry is a darkroom where negatives develop.
- Your prayer list is the only place to put people down.
- “Christ literally walked in our shoes.” –Tim Keller
- Most great opportunities are disguised as impossible situations.
- Why wish on a star when you can pray to the one who created it?
- [Insert cheesy joke here]
- TFW pastor tells you to put something funny on the sign.
- Need a reason to come back to church? This is the sign you’re looking for.
- Now open between Christmas and Easter!
- What does this sign need to say to get you to show up?
- Sinners and hypocrites welcome!
- More people are troubled by what is plain in Scripture than by what is obscure.
- Sin and pride have one thing in common. The middle letter is “I”.
- Adam and Eve didn’t read Apple’s terms and conditions.
- Forbidden fruit creates many jams.
- Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. (1 Chronicles 16:11)
- This is love for God: To keep His commands. (1 John 5:3)
- For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
- Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household. (Acts 16:31)
- Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2)
- In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4)
- Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
- Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
- Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)
- When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. (Psalm 56:3)