I pass by several church signs on my daily drive to and from work. Generally 90% of them are either boring or absolutely awful. So after perusing crummychurchsigns.com (hilarious website that records the exploits of horrible church signs all over the world), I put together a few things to think about before putting that pithy phrase up on your church sign. (Most of the pictures below were created using churchsigngenerator.com, but reflect actual church signs spotted across the US, mostly in Tennessee and Texas, for some reason). Here are some guidelines for creating good church signs, by way of examples of bad church signs:
- Spelling and grammar are way more important than you think. Mistakes of the spelling and grammar nature make you look completely inept, even if you’re a genius. So for example:
This sign would have been greatly helped by some punctuation.
- If you use insider language, the only people who will understand your sign will be insiders.
(actual church sign)
Average person’s internal monologue: "Is this a zoo? What are they doing with a lion? I have a friend named Judah, but he doesn’t have a lion. And ‘a predator of poverty and illness’ could either mean he preys on those things or he just is characterized by them. I think I’ll stop by Sunday and find out… not."
- Being cute or coy on a church sign doesn’t generally do any good whatsoever. Think about it: if your church sign says (and I’ve seen this one way too much):
… what are the chances here that some passer-by is going to read this and think: "U R!! I get it! YOU ARE! I am! These folks are so clever, I owe them my attendance. In fact, I’m going to become a Christian because those guys were so clever." Not gonna happen.
- Taking an adversarial tone with the people who see your sign is not a good way to get them to come to church or become Christians.
"Why yes, yes I am reprobate! I’ll come on Sunday and announce it to the whole congregation."
Hey let’s visit that church on Sunday! Forced conversion sounds fun!
(reads: "Without Christ life is all fun and games until you die and go to hell.")
Why not just throw rotten tomatoes at cars that pass by? That’ll have the same affect.
- Check your theology. Please. Don’t spout Dr. Philisms on your church sign, just because they sound wise.
You don’t actually need Jesus. Just a good laugh. David Brent would agree.
- Finally, make some sense. Nothing is worse than a church sign that must be viewed several times before any sense can be made of it. One great example from crummychurchsigns.com was a church sign that read, "Heart Vision Sacrifice: Ten Versus Two". What does that even mean? Or this one:
Are there people around who really think it does? Will this sign surprise anyone? Are the people who are staying in bed and shouting Oh God going to be surprised that they aren’t in fact attending a church service?
A church sign is not a stick to beat people with, nor is it a stage on which you should demonstrate your clever wit and hilarious plays on words (tongue planted firmly in cheek there). Perhaps church signs would be better utilized to bring some kind of real benefit and blessing to those reading it. That would be refreshing.
This had me laughing. And it’s so true – I’m going to be watching the local signs now!
RC of strangeculture says
Ben, i’ve posted the exact real example of church sign example number 4 (the what’s missing from ch__ch) sign here on my own blog:
Strange Culture: Church Sign #16
It’s too bad the people who need to read this post of yours probably won’t.
–RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com
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