Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Suggestions For Better Church Signs

This post is the followup to this one: Here's Your [Church] Sign. (Please feel free to continue posting goofy things you've seen on signs as well as any that you think are great examples of good, positive, and effective ways to use a church sign.)

A funny cartoon from a few years ago showed two guys watching a grumpy pastor change the letters on the church sign. The caption underneath said, "I can always tell when Rev. Jones needs a vacation..." The pastor was putting up the message: "This Sunday's Sermon: Just come and find out, meathead!"

The silly thing is, there are a lot of church signs out there that don't really come across much better than that on a week to week basis. I have no ax to grind but I do have a few suggestions for better church signs.

These are not exhaustive and they do not provide all of the answers, but if you have a church sign, please consider the following before pulling out the little black letters and posting that next witty and pithy homily...

The obvious:
  • Update your church sign regularly.
  • Keep your church sign clean.
  • Keep your church sign maintained - change the bulbs when they go out on the day they go out, trim the weeds, etc.
  • If your sign is faded and weathered looking (Unless that's part of the design) it's time to replace parts or it's time for a new sign.
The apparently not-so-obvious:
  • Determine who your sign is for and write for them. (Hint - If it's for your church only, send them a newsletter instead.)
  • Think of your sign as a 24/7 personal billboard for your church, because that is exactly what it is. It is a "front door" to the community that tells them what's "inside."
  • Be sure it's part of your PR/Comumication Strategy so it's not simply relegated to the maintenance person to come up with "clever" sayings.
  • Think through how you will be received/perceived/heard by the people driving by. Ask, "What do we want to communicate about our church? Will it attract? Will it help create interest in what's happening at your church?
  • Do not use the internet to come up with clever sayings to put on your sign.
  • Do not use a "church sign book" to come up with clever sayings to put on your sign.
  • Come to think of it, do not use clever sayings at all...It's like the person who tries to tell a joke that's already been told a million times and wasn't really funny the first time. They are usually tired, worn out and corny. And really, do you want to be known as the "clever sayings" church, anyway?
  • Do not "slam the evil doers" on your church sign. You'll just reinforce the negative, judgmental stereotype impression that most people have about churches, anyway.
  • Assume that everyone who sees your church sign has never been to church before. You don't have to "dumb down" to do this, just leave out the words and phrases that only church people would understand.
  • Plan ahead so you're not tempted to just "throw something up there."
  • It's ok to be funny, but you'd better really be funny. Get lots of feedback on something you think is funny before you put it on your sign. Ask people who don't go to your church. Generally, humor that smashes stereotypes about church are better than things like, "CH_ _ CH - What's Missing? U. R."
  • When in doubt, promote upcoming events and programs that appeal to the community. If you're still drawing a blank, communicate the values and vision of your church.
  • Bottom Line: If you wouldn't print it in a letter to the community, put it on the front page of the newspaper or say it in a televised interview, don't put it on your sign.
I know that most of the time, churches do not intend to come across the way they often do. Churches care about people. They want people to know the love of Christ. I know this. I'm not intending to be mean and overly critical.

But if you have a church sign, you have a great opportunity to communicate with your community every single week. So what do you really want to communicate?

I love churches. We're good people. We have the best message in the world. Let's just not allow that message to be dismissed and never given a hearing because of a goofy line on our church sign...

Once again, a church sign can be a powerful thing. Please use your powers for good. :-)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Finding Margin

Several years ago I did a series called, "Finding Margin" that generally ate my lunch. If ever there was an area that has been a constant challenge for me it is in the area of "margin." It was tough to preach because it was so "where I live." But it was needed and on target.

I am excited that we are revisiting this series beginning next week, April 23rd. It's not really the same series, but a fresh and new take on the same issues. ...And it's still where I live.

I still need margin...breathing space.

To understand the difference between what I carry and what I can bear.

The ability to do and be well.

Over the next few weeks we will be examining 5 areas that are notorious for lacking margin: Clutter, Time, Work, Family and Money.

I'm breathing better just thinking about it...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Here's Your [Church] Sign...

It has been a busy week heading into the Easter weekend, so I thought I'd post something that's just been lying dormant in my red spiral notebook (Not to be confused with my Un-wired-er Analog PDA Mind Map, mind you) for months, now.

What's the deal with Church Signs? For some reason, some of the goofiest stuff in the world can be found on the signs of churches. But I wish it weren't so.

Here are a few actual Church signs that I have seen with my own eyes, some as recently as last week. I've added some commentary in parentheses.
  • On a broken down looking church that was converted from an old house - "Miracle Revival Center" (Looks like it could use a little of that. Physician, heal thyself..)
  • On a stencilled black and white sign with picture of Jesus wearing a crown of bloody thorns - "This blood's for you!" (Bleh.)
  • "The only Ghost in this house is holy!" (So your church is holy haunted?)
  • "Jesus is healing the sick! The blind see! The deaf hear! ...Next Exit." (Call Ticket master now to reserve your seat! Cotton candy and peanuts available but optional!)
  • "Somebody call 911 cause this church is on fire!" (Somebody get some butter cause this church is full of corn!)
  • On a giant sign with lights and an arrow that was almost bigger than the one room church building - "Here's the Church you've been looking for!" (I'm guessing that's because it was so small and was behind the giant sign...)
  • And one Kim saw just the other day - "Jesus is coming. Resistence is Futile!" (Yes. We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Spare yourself the hassle later, and visit us with your family this Sunday!)
  • And my personal favorite - "This is missions month. Come on in!" (I thought missions was about...go... uh, hello?)
Generally speaking, these signs and many like them might as well just say, "We're kind of weird and we're not very bright...And we wanted you to know about it!"

Ok, I probably shouldn't be so harsh, here because I really believe that most of these churches probably mean well. They may actually think they are being clever. So I'm not meaning to sound so critical, it's just that cheesy church signs just drive me crazy.

As a church plant that meets in rented space, we don't have the luxury of a "24-7 personal billboard" for our Church. But if you have a permanent Church Sign, that is exactly what you have.

A Church sign with changeable lettering is an opportunity to "connect with" or annoy or anger or "draw in" or "make eyes roll" or "create interest" or "demonstrate cluelessness"...it's really up to you.

So I have some tips/suggestions for churches with permanent signs that I'll share in another post. Think of it as a "Public Service Announcement" for Churches with signs. Because A church sign can actually be a powerful thing. And I want you to use your powers for good.

But right now, I'm heading to bed.

So what are some of the goofiest things you've seen on church signs?

Read part 2 here: Suggestions For Better Church Signs

Friday, April 07, 2006

Some Random Friday Stuff

Just some random Friday stuff today...

Team 100:

I want to say, "Thank You," to everyone who has been a part of our "Team 100!" We have now wrapped up the series, but we would love to have you continue to pray for us, and we would be honored to pray for you, as well. Does prayer make a difference? I believe that it makes and has made a huge difference, and I hope that you have also been blessed as you have prayed for us!

Buzz Conference:
I'm bummed out that I am unable to go to the Buzz Conference! I'm way too low on cash for the trip across the country, right now but if Drive was the conference I most wanted to attend last year, this is the conference I would be attending this year if I could.

I actually spent some time as a "summer missionary" in Washington D.C. MANY years ago, and would love to go back. Here's a hilarious picture to give you an idea of HOW long ago that was... What is up with the hair? Oh, wait, I actually had hair, then! :-D

Some of my favorite bloggers are going to be there, Ebenezers is now open (Hmm, imagine a Compass version of Ebenezers in old town Roanoke...) and I could have gotten to hang out with Ed Young.

But of course, since I live not too far from Ed, I can just call him up and hang out with him any time.... :-D (That was fun. I actually enjoyed saying that. Ok, now back to reality...)

This Weekend at Compass:
This Sunday I am looking forward to sharing about "The Point: More, Stronger and Closer Followers of Jesus Christ." More on this later!

But on Saturday, we are helping the city of Roanoke with the community Easter egg hunt and my lovely wife, Leona will once again frighten children as the Easter bunny.

Someone asked recently: "What does the Easter Bunny and eggs have to do with the Resurrected Christ?" My answer - Nothing. What's your point?

So why are we, as a church, helping the community with an event that involves an Easter Bunny Costume? Because we want to be good neighbors and we want to connect with the people in our community where they are. It provides an opportunity for us to crash stereotypes, meet needs, and meet people, so we can ultimately point them to Jesus.

The "Easter Bunny" is just a goofy secular thing akin to "Frosty the Snowman" at Christmas time. Hey, he doesn't scare me! Besides, I know what [s]he looks like under the mask, and there's nothing but cuteness going on there.

Sorry, I didn't mean to chase a rabbit..... Then again... ;-D ...Alright, I'll stop. :-D

And A Good Quote to wrap up your week:

Teddy Roosevelt said,
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat." [Quote via Mark]
Bully for that! Let's kick up some dust...

To the arena!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Blog Spring Cleaning

Had to freshen up the header. The row of cups was getting pretty dusty....

More blog "spring cleaning" ahead.

Monday, April 03, 2006


this is an audio post - click to play

I couldn't resist.

It's that time of year when churches have a tendency to start "puffing up the promises" of what will happen when you visit their church. It can get a little silly. I know we all just want to reach people with the Good News, but I think sometimes we may be "overselling" ourselves a bit in our mailers and stuff. I know we've been slightly guilty of this at times...

Will all of people's wildest dreams really come true if they visit your church this Easter?!


This post makes makes more sense if you see the previous post, first...

Sunday, April 02, 2006


I've been kind of serious here at the blog, lately.

Frankly, that's because I've been working through all that it is going to take for Compass Church to be all we are supposed to be and I have been a bit overwhelmed. Maybe I've just been weary.

But folks like Jason have cheered me up recently with his pod blip shout out and the weather today is 91 degrees and sunny. We also had a great time enjoying burgers from the grill at our friends' the Robisons, this afternoon and the kids have just pulled out the big blue "fillable" pool.

I've also been enjoying the fun of Zombocom. Some people think that it may actually be the future of Web 2.0. It was a little tricky for me at first, but soon the stress melted away and I realized that the only limit is myself...at zombocom! Enjoy.

If you really need it, there is a spoiler here.