I have become the Church Sign Guy, for real. One day this summer I took my daughter to the medical clinic for a TB test, required before she entered 9th grade. After we registered her at the clinic, we sat down in the waiting room and waited to be called into the back. A nurse in scrubs walked by, stopped in front of me, and said to me, “I know you, you’re the guy with the church sign!” And she explained that she knew my church sign pictures from Facebook and that she looked forward to seeing them every week.
I do change my church sign every week, and every week I post a selfie of me and my sign on Facebook. Most of the time anymore I plan what message will be on the sign several weeks in advance, but that wasn’t always the case. It used to be I dreaded changing the sign and would only do so when it was really seasonally appropriate. But something happened when I came to Barboursville First UMC in 2013. Something clicked.
Barboursville First UMC’s sign is on an intersection as you come into town, and more than one previous pastor used the sign for the sermon title every week. I rarely do sermon titles, but still, something clicked, and I began to see the church sign as a way to be involved with passersby, to be informational and to be invitational.
Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes witty, sometimes deep, sometimes challenging, but the church sign is a tool that can be used for interacting with people in the community. I also learned that it doesn’t just have to be the people that drive by: I can use my church sign as a tool for interacting with people online as well. I started to post pictures, and, well, now, I’m the Church Sign Guy.
Having a church sign has affected the way I think. When I read scripture or theology (and I do both frequently), I often think, “I could write that on the sign.” I have learned to pare passages into phrases and blurbs into bon mots, and I am surprised at how often I’m dismayed to think, “Rats, that’s just too long to fit on the sign.”
First UMC’s mission is “to share the love of God with people in a hurting world.” The UMC’s mission is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The church sign (and the thinking that goes into it) is just one of many ways we have to live those missions.
So be encouraged. Put your thinking cap on, and examine how you might interact with the people who pass by, either in person or online. Who knows who you might reach?
Kerry W. Bart was ordained an elder in Eastern Pennsylvania in 2005. He was appointed to Barboursville First UMC in 2013 and is now a full member of the West Virginia Conference. Kerrfunk1@gmail.com www.FirstChurchBville.com
Here are some of Kerry’s favorites:
GOD IS ALWAYS READY / ALWAYS ABLE / ALWAYS WILLING TO SAVE
START EACH DAY / EXPECTING TO ENCOUNTER GOD / AND YOU PROBABLY WILL
DELIGHT IN GOD / GOD DELIGHTS IN YOU! / JOIN US IN WORSHIP
GOD INVITES ALL / TO LIFE ABUNDANT. / COME AND SEE
LIVE IN SUCH A WAY / THAT OTHERS SEE YOU / AND GIVE THANKS
EVERYONE IS IN THIS / LIFE TOGETHER. JOIN / US ON SUNDAY MORNING!
RESOLVE TO L_VE / LIKE JESUS
COME TO MY HOUSE SUNDAY / BEFORE THE GAME. / LOVE, GOD
MAKE FIRST CHURCH / YOUR FAITH PLACE / JOIN US IN WORSHIP
SOME PEOPLE MAKE / APOCALYPSE JOKES / LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW!
COME AS YOU ARE / YOU CAN CHANGE / ON THE INSIDE
BELIEVE IN HOPE / AND REDEMPTION / GOD IS LOVE