Monday, February 26, 2007

thinking about church signs


My friend Irene Livingston just pointed me to a website for making your own church sign image. It's cool and fun to play with, and it got me thinking about the mixed feelings I have been having about signs in front of churches. I have noticed that many Christian churches have moveable letter signs. The Catholic churches I have seen tend to have Bible quotations or information about what time the service is, or an ad for an upcoming church event. Protestant churches are more likely to have very short jokes (you don't get very many letters on one of those signs). Sometimes the joke is funny, but often it makes me feel uncomfortable because I get the sense it's using humour to impose an opinion and say "We're right, you know, heh heh heh.."

I've posted recently about the sign at our church that I found offensive enough that I requested it be changed. (In case you missed the post, it said "A closed mouth gathers no foot," which I thought could be construed to discourage people from speaking up for what they think is right). Today our church sign reads "Life is a journey, let faith be your guide." In the summer it said "This church is prayer-conditioned." Humorous sayings on church signs are intended to be friendly and to convey an image that the people who worship here don't take themselves too seriously or worship too formally for newcomers to feel welcome. The intention is good, I know. At their best, church joke signs can convey a hokey/folksy image that is probably non-threatening to most readers. Inspirational messages like the faith journey one tend to be nice and gentle and welcoming too.

But sometimes I worry that these signs say the opposite of what we mean them to, when read by someone who does not agree with the way we practise our faith. I found some examples on google images. These and this and
this. You get the idea. On the one hand, it's funny. On the other hand, you're laughing and thinking, well, now I just agreed because I laughed so I must be wrong if I don't really agree, and apparently, stop-drop-and-roll won't help me.

So I guess this all goes to say that I don't think church signs are the greatest idea, when we try to use them to make a point by being funny. Sure, it's part of what we Christians do, to spread the word of God, but I prefer it when we're very careful and sensitive in the way we do it. I think it's more effective to tell people what we're about by what we do in the community and as families and individuals, rather than with a clever arrangement of moveable letters.

So that's my church sign at the top of the post, made at the church sign generator website.

I hope you like it, but it's okay if you don't.

question: what are your thoughts on this?

mompoet - in favour of a road that is wide open for journeys of many kinds

1 comment:

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