About a month ago my family was on vacation in a small town in Michigan. Wherever we go I tend to notice churches and predict it’s personality from what I see on the outside. So, as we drove through this quaint town, I couldn’t help but notice 3 church signs and so thought I’d discuss what a church sign is potentially saying.
I appreciate the use of attempted humor in this sign, but question its intended purpose. I can’t help but wonder to whom this sign is directed and why. Is it the non-Christian looking for church with cheesy humor? Or is it for the local Christian potentially disenfranchised with their present church and its lack of cheesy church humor?
I’d put this sign in the same category as those 6 month-old restaurants still proudly hanging their ‘Grand Opening’ sign. Or, those small businesses contained in the questionable strip mall whose front window holds the ‘Yes, we’re open’ sign. These signs are answering a question you hope potential customers shouldn’t need to ask. Are there many people in the city wondering, “Hmm, I wonder if that church is open on Sundays”? If you have to tell people you’re still around, then there’s a good chance you’re not making any kind of effective impact.
This sign clearly takes a combative tone towards anyone not in the club. I can only imagine the hope is that an individual far from God will immediately feel guilty upon reading the sign, and wish they were good enough to enter the doors of that specific church club.
When creating any kind of church sign or media, it’s essential to answer 2 questions.
#1: Who is this sign supposed to reach?
Who is your intended audience? Whoever that person or group is, then think about their needs. What questions are they asking? What are they looking for that your church can help with? What do they worry about? What do they think about? What is their life like? If you can’t think of a specific real person you care about and trying to market to, then don’t do it. You’ll only end up marketing to some extreme caricature of a non-existent person.
#2 What is your intended message?
What are you trying to say and why? Don’t only think about the actual words you’ve written, but the message under the message. For example, check out the front of the following marketing card. The front reads, “Where Amazing Happens.” What we were really trying to convey is that amazing things are happening at this church and we would like you to be a part of it. After you’ve written your sign or message, ask the question, “What am I really trying to say”?
Organizations need to be mindful about the intended and unintended messages they share with the outside world. Sometimes the intended message could actually achieve the opposite result and reinforce individual’s negative perceptions of the church.