Monday, March 15, 2010

Here's Your (Church) Sign

We’ve all seen them and dare I say, we have all cringed our teeth at some, if not all of them. Those snazzy little marquees that bid a person “Sinners wanted: Pro or Amateur: Apply inside” or “CH RCH the only thing missing is U”. These are just 2 of the countless catchphrases that, I assume, try to make a lost person want to come to that particular church building.

Do they work? Do they make people want to walk through a church door on Sunday morning? I have no idea, but judging by the frequency and interchangeable messages I would say a definite maybe. But that’s not the question about these signs. The question, regardless of my dislike for their oozing of seeker sensitivity, is: “Are these signs glorifying God?” And to 99% of these signs I would say the answer is no. Not because I don’t already know that “7 days without prayer makes 1 weak” or that I might, time and time again, need to be reminded that “God answers knee mail”, but these signs make a mockery of biblical truths, lend way to catchy sayings in hope of having a driver of a vehicle slam on his breaks after being so convicted by “This church is prayer conditioned” and just flat out try to be cute.

Enough of that. Are these types of signs biblical? Do they help or hurt the cause of Christianity? Do they convict sinners? Most importantly, as I asked earlier, do these signs glorify the Lord? Of course, we live in a day that the writers of scripture knew nothing about. They would not have foreseen this type of marketing for the Church of God. They expected the body of Christ to live their lives as a sign. They expected the children of God to faithfully proclaim the Good News and not rely on cutesy things to catch someone’s interest and create a chuckle (and yes, I do chuckle at some of these signs, but most of the time I am very offended).

This reminds me of a past blog I wrote on heretical t-shirts, a while ago. These types of things do more harm than good. And I dare say that I have never heard of one persons testimony in which they saw a sign that said “Don’t give up, Moses was once a basket case” and realized that they were a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Granted, these 3-4 line signs do not have very much room to say very much, but then again should these signs be used for anything other than telling when the next fellowship is or when service times start?

Maybe the problem is that most people do not know what a church is for anyway. They think that “Wal-Mart is not the only saving place” instead of actually knowing that a church is for those that are Christians to learn more about their Savior, to edify one another, to grow together as a body of believers in pursuit to be more Christ like in every way. So many of people that fill the pews these days want people to think “Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints”.

I may be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but I do not recall anywhere in scripture where we are told to be cute to glorify God. I also don’t know where it says that Jesus had catchy little phrases that made people chuckle and desire to get to know Him better. Jesus did have one little phrase that I would like to see on those marquees. It is found in Luke 13:3, 5. So important that He said it twice in 3 verses “Repent or perish”. Now that is profound. Not very seeker sensitive or cute, but like Christ was, to the point. That’s not a very popular place to be these days and will often times get the reply “Stop being judgmental you Pharisee”, the Pharisee card I like to call it. I just can’t see John the Baptist walking into town, munching down on a nice crispy locust with a sandwich board hanging from his neck that said “Oh Satan, the fat lady is about to sing”. Better yet, the Apostle Paul sending a letter to the Corinthians telling them to get the chisel out and make a sign for his next visit to read “The best vitamin for a Christian is B1” in hopes of something so sly and catchy would convict a sinner in their steps.

I guess my point is to just stop it already. Stop trying to be cute, stop trying to make somebody laugh, stop trying to make people think you’re sly and cunning and a wordsmith full of witty sentiments. It’s not working, it never worked and it never will work. Just preach the gospel – in season and out of season. Sow the seeds if His Word and leave the rest up to Him. Treat the Church like the Church and not as a “Hospital for sinners”. Also keep in mind Galatians 6:6-7 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

Here are a few ideas if you must put up a marquee or sign to try and draw sinners in to hear the Word of God, to feel the presence of a mighty and Holy God and to cry out under the intense pressure of His Spirit:

“God is Holy, You’re not”
“Luke 13:3,5 Repent or Perish – the original Turn or Burn”
“The wages of sin is death, repent before payday”


Missy said...

I like the calm and measured response you use in dealing with this. There are really some doozies out there... "A Christian heart is fine but even better is a Christian liver." I wish those who decide on these signs would take seriously the platform they have in being seen by a lost audience.

Jeff said...

I never heard that one before Missy, made me chuckle though.

I actually compiled a few hundred or so of these types of cliches for a video idea for RTM. Without going into detail it will not be about marquees, but will be very enlightening to how American "churches" use these as theology. I will definitely be adding yours to that list.

It is a very sad state. I agree with you totally about their platform. It's like they choose being cute and catchy over being true to scripture and actually trying to put a God centered message out there.

Jeff said...

Well, it's not a "few" hundred after all. Only 150 and counting, but I did not add to the list those that could only be used on marquees only. It is actually a list of cliche's. (is it correct to use 's in cliche's? I freak out every time I use an apostrophe now..... thank you for that Missy.)

Missy said...

Yeah, that apostrophe would be wrong. Plurals and apostrophes never mix... never. (Reserve them for possessive nouns (not pronouns) and contractions.) :)

Jeff said...

Sorry Missy I was asking amiss. I was actually thinking of the accent mark above e, not an apostrophe.