Church signs of the times

by Dave Burchett
Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009, at 2:16 pm

I am sure that at least a few readers of these humble ramblings remember a song by Five Man Electrical Band. The song was called "Signs" and it told about some warnings that dared to tell us what to do:

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign,

Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

I remember the opening part of the song quite well:

And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply,

So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why.

He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do,

So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you.


What struck me most is that the official Five Man Electrical Band website actually has that last word spelled "woah." Hearing that song recently on an oldies station made me think about the mixed blessing of church signs. Some are clever and thought provoking. Most, sadly, are embarrassing or even harmful. I really dislike some of the signs that I have seen on display. For example:

Walmart isn't the only saving place.

Hmmm . . . hope they don't take the Walmart theology too far. We have a rollback on the wages of sin this weekend only!

Every summer in Texas we get the comparison of Texas heat to hell:

You think it's hot here?

Yes . . . actually I do.

Points for honesty go to this church:

Our church is like fudge. Sweet with a lot of nuts.

Threats of damnation seem to be a church sign favorite like this cheery little thought:

Will your eternal reservations be smoking or non-smoking?

And keeping with our go to hell theme:

Life is all fun and games until you die and go to hell!

Really makes you want to join that happy little group, doesn't it? Why should we talk about eternal relationship with our Creator, being forgiven, and walking in freedom and grace when we can throw down a little gem like this?

Stop, drop and roll doesn't work in hell.

All I can say is . . . woah!

The next sign is directed entirely at the faithful or, perhaps, the not so faithful:

Tithe if you love Jesus! Anyone can honk.

Fortunately I have seen some signs that were a bit more graceful and thoughtful. I have to admit that I liked these:

It you want the rainbow you've gotta put up with the rain.

Opportunity knocks only once but temptation leans on the doorbell.

Children learn more from models than from critics.

Mud thrown is ground lost.

God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.

The final church sign might be a bit too obtuse for the casual passerby but it does contain the message of grace:

God grades on the Cross, not the curve.

Paul said it like this to the Ephesians:

"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)" (Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT).

Jesus was not talking about church signs when He said, "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:3). The signs of the times indicate to me that I need to get serious about following Jesus and finishing strong. To paraphrase the sign above:

Live it if you love Jesus. Anyone can honk!

Dave Burchett

Dave is a former WORLD contributor.

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