Hey, it’s time for my Weekend Blog Free For All where I write about anything other than what I usually write about. Like bad country music. And wagon wheels.
I travel several miles to go to work every day for my sports medicine job. On my happy way, I see at least six church signs along the way.
So, a disclaimer before I begin. I have a harsh distaste for church signs. So do a lot of other people. Southern Baptist church planter and author Ed Stetzer has a church sign of the week on his blog.
What’s the dealio? In my experience as a Christian, there seem to be several things going on.
Man, I am tired of being a loser. Maybe I should turn into this church parking lot and see what they have to offer.
1. There must be some repository of awful sayings out there that churches use to put up each week. I don’t know if it’s from a book or from the internet, but the same stupid stuff gets recycled over and over. You know the drill. (And I’m recalling this from memory, Lord help me.)
- “CH_ _ CH” What’s Missing? UR” (How clever the first 200 times I saw it)
- Sign Broken, Come inside for Message (Again, how clever. And how many people will wander in on a Tuesday afternoon to look for the message on a “broken sign”?)
- Think it’s hot outside? Try Hell. (This is when it’s summer time)
- Dairy Queen has good stuff but we have the best Sundays (That one makes me cry)
- Free trip to heaven – Details inside
- Wal-Mart isn’t the only saving place
And so on. Ad nauseum. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.
2. I will often see one church sign that has a “cute” saying only to see the same message a week later on a sign down the road on another church. It’s like the other church people said, “Oh, how cute. Let’s put that up. Maybe people will come here because of the LULZ.”
Are we thinking? Can you think for a moment when Jesus ever stopped in his ministry and said, “Hey, let me tell a joke to you all to get you to follow me. I’ve got a real knee-slapper right now. It’s better than anything the Pharisees have. And when you hear it, you will definitely want to follow me for the truth. LOL.”
Is that what we’ve become?
3. Billboard Marketing
I read a local news article about five years ago about church signs. It must have been a slow news day in the local paper. The local news reporter went to three local churches that had these ridiculous church signs that had ridiculous church sayings up and asked them, “How is it working for you?” The pastors said, “Well, it’s a good message. It helps people see that we are real.” Honestly. One person said that I recall said, “I like the messages. It gives me something to believe in.”
Good for you. So when you read on the sign, “God answers knee mail,” that’s your theology, huh?
Am I sounding harsh? Yeah, I guess I should back down a little. Maybe I’m just a stick in the mud.
4. There are some good ones out there.
I have a couple of churches that I have faith in. There’s a friend of mine that proof reads the messages that go on his sign. One read, “Is your cell phone closer to you than your Bible?” Good point. And there’s a church of Christ in the town where I work that has Scripturally based messages each week that I don’t flinch at.
Compare that to a Church of God that I pass by each week that has a message up like, “Who’s your daddy? Jesus!”
I don’t have the words.
That brings me to why I even wrote this article to begin with.
Now, I didn’t take a picture of the actual sign. I passed by this actual message this week on my way home from work. And it made me so angry that I slammed on my brakes and I shrieked in terror. Instead of taking a picture of it, I used an online church sign generator to recreate the message for you to see.
“When you’re at the end of your rope, God is there to take over.”
Now, I have degrees from a private Baptist university and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have some serious, serious issues with this message.
So, to make sure that I wasn’t reading it wrong, I wrote it down and showed it to my beautiful, intelligent wife who has a basic understanding of God that she gleaned from church. Her reaction was quick.
“What? Are you serious?”
Yeah, that was what was on the sign, I told her.
You see, the problem with church signs is that bad theology can be sent out to hundreds of people in the community without a second thought. I’m sure the person who put it out didn’t really think about it much.
There are serious, horrible, and heretical problems with that statement. You might not realize it, so let me dig in a little deeper.
Let’s take the statement for what it is. “When you’re at the end of your rope, God is there to take over.”
Well, who isn’t going to be attracted to this? It’s not just hell-fire and brimstone, but it’s KJV “brimstone” and “independent”! Hey, all you unbelievers out there, doesn’t this make sense to you?
It’s harmless, right? Someone was thinking that when we are doing the best we can and we have done everything in our power, God will take over and fix our mess for us.
But that statement goes against everything Scripture says from beginning to end. First, I want to look at it from a literary angle. Let’s just forget the biblical angle for a moment. If you’re at the end of your rope, where is there to go? Nowhere. Bad metaphor. When you are at the end of your rope, you are done for. there is no more rope. You have literally reached the end. Farewell, my friend. The rope is done. You’re done.
If you wanted divine intervention, you should have asked for help before the end of the rope. Honestly speaking, let’s say the rope was tied to the top of a mountain. You were climbing down. You had 50 feet of rope to reach a landing. It all looked good. You felt like you could get there. But when you got to the end, you realized you needed another 40 feet of rope. Guess what? Your metaphor stinks. It’s awful. Go find another one.
But I’m not a complete jerk. I’m honestly not. I will work with your church sign and I do want to work with your “rope” metaphor. So lets look at it and forget that you don’t have enough rope.
What really bothers me is that you are a Christian and you are climbing down and you think you’ve done so without God.
Guess what? That’s ridiculous. For the Christian, God has promised that He will be with you forever. We were dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:10). We have no hope other than Christ. He chose us for salvation (Ephesians 1:4). And the best part is that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5-6, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 55:22, Romans 8:28, Hebrews 4:16, Micah 7:7, Psalm 73:23-26). God NEVER leaves our side!
To my friend who put that message on the sign, you are somewhat mistaken. You may think you are climbing down a rope in your own power. Feel free to think that. But if you are a Christian, God is with you the entire time!
Our God has never left His people and will never leave them. He was always with Moses, always with Abraham, always with Jeremiah, always with the early church, and He promises to always be with us. We do not ever have to do anything on our own, to struggle for a time and then let God take over.
What faulty thinking is this? God is with His people at all times.
Can we please put some thought into what we put on to our church signs?
Church signs are the precursor to Twitter. They were the 140 character messages that we were trying to get out to the community. If we can do no better than, “Are you a Clairol Christian . . . only your hairdresser knows for sure?” Then maybe we should be posting the inerrant words of Scripture for people to read instead of clever words that can be mocked by men.
Christ came with a simple message. One that was heavily doused with Old Testament quotations. Maybe those in charge of church signs should learn from our incarnate Savior.
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Did you like this? Maybe not. But you might like my now infamous Wagon Wheel post or its sequel, my post about Shaking it for the Squirrels, “The Ceiling Can’t Hold Us“, my post about how awful Candy Crush is, my post about “Get Your Shine On”, what Christians should think about Justin Bieber, my poor attempt to start the unity selfie, or the one about “Boys ‘Round Here.”
When I’m not being cynical about pop culture, I do run a ministry to help fallen pastors here at fallenpastor.com. I also wrote a book. It is designed to help people understand forgiveness and the problems within the church. Check it out – it’s on Amazon and everything.