14 May 2008

Playing Scrabble With Church Signs

Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil posted a picture of a sign outside a church. I loved it, and had to share it with you.

I was nervous when our church installed a similar sign, but was relieved to find that it's always used wisely. Our sign is used to tell the community of our service times and the events we hold, rather than for repeating inane quasi-Christian sayings whose only purpose is to make Christians smile, nod and murmer, 'Mmm, so true,' regardless of whether the saying is actually biblical, or even holds a shred of truth outside the fortress-like confines of their churchy lives.

In general, I'm not a fan of signs outside churches. Too many churches use them to post kitsch little sayings that are too twee, too irrelevant and too guilt-inducing to achieve much more than to make people who are already Christians feel smugly pleased that the dire warnings don't apply to them.

The internet is full of ghastly suggestions like: "What part of 'THOU SHALT NOT' don't you understand?" "If you don't want to reap the fruits of sin stay out of the devil's orchard" and "Try Jesus. If you don't like Him, the devil will always take you back". Gack.

Some of the churches in our town are pretty good at posting these messages. "Dusty Bibles Lead To Dirty Lives," warned one close to home last year.

"Empty Cradle - Empty Christmas" read another, prompting a good friend of mine to call the church and suggest they show more tact with people who are struggling to conceive or who have lost a child.

"God's Grace Gives Us What We Need" was a more acceptable alternative I saw outside a church once. That is, until it was vandalised one night:
Ironically, I think this would probably achieve more in the way of 'outreach' than all their previous messages put together!


Anonymous said...

My church put up a sign just as you describe. All was going well with advertising services, plant stalls, etc. Until someone started the inevitable twee sayings when not needed for other reasons.

I cringe most weeks, particularly given that our church is directly opposite the courthouse (where people regularly congregate with nothing to do for half a morning while they await their turn with the magistrate), and some of our buildings are used for a community organisation that provide food, emergency funds, counselling, etc for people who need it. I'm glad to see someone else does, as I was beginning to think I was a freak - no-one else seems to mind.

I now don't know if I should be praying for an 'act of God' to destroy the sign, or the 140 year old, heritage listed church that doesn't meet modern worship requirements and can't be changed to do so. (or maybe just bring it up at the next congregational meeting)


Givinya De Elba said...

You're not the only one who hates these smug outpourings! I hope that people who read them do not thing that those stupid sayings reflect my own beliefs about God or about them. An Act Of God sounds interesting!

Good luck with the congregational meeting. Maybe someone will form a committee...?

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, do you know our church so well. LOL. Jen.

Anonymous said...

Those blasted sayings are awfully contrived. A much simpler way to invite people in would be something like:

"Welcome! Stagger in late with noisy kids in pajamas!"

I'd go there.

Anonymous said...

Hey, where's my clever pseudonym?

Good Friend

Givinya De Elba said...

Oooh, you want one? I think Good Friend is quite nice. Any ideas, Mrs Good Friend?