Many of you know that I am not a big fan of church marquees that display short, pithy statements out in front of church property.
There is one that I saw the other day that caught me attention and really made me think.
The sign said, "We love visitors."
I've seen this on many churches before - and there is nothing inherently wrong with saying that - but it struck me, really stirred some thoughts.
First off, I wondered about its effectiveness. If anyone was curious about checking out a church would they come to church based on what they read on the sign? Maybe...maybe not. I'd love to know. I'd love to talk to someone who had little or no church experience but one day they saw a church marquee stating that that particular church loved visitors and were compelled to attend. Didn't most of us begin attending church because a family member or friend invited us or came with us?
Second, I wondered to myself as I drove, If I have to tell someone that I love visitors, do I really? Wouldn't people know that I love visitors just by the way I interact with others? It's like when you are sitting at lunch with a friend and they are fidgeting and doing everything except looking at and listening to you. And so they say, "Oh, I'm listening" but deep down you know that they probably aren't. If they have to tell you that they are listening, are they? Don't you show others that you are listening to them by what you do with your eyes and your ears and your body language? And don't we love visitors by how we treat them during the week, rather than what we put on a sign out front?
My goal isn't to be critical and/or cynical of churches and their signs, but I do believe that we need to be extremely careful and intentional with the types of messages we think we are sending - as well as the messages we are actually sending. We have to consider the messages we are sending to an unbelieving world and if they are effective in communicating the message of the way of Jesus and his rhythms. For every one person driving down the road who may be encouraged or blessed by our church marquees, there could be several others - without even knowing it - who are turned off or confused by our messages.