A Good Church Sign - Really???

I have been meaning to comment on church signs for a while now, and this past week while Julie and I were in Winnipeg I saw a sign that gave me the final oomph of motivation to share my thoughts.

I have long thought that churches attempts at connecting with the surrounding culture in the form of catchy sayings is an utter waste of time and likely does more damage than good when it comes to the impact the church has in the world. I have always held the opinion that beyond general ministry information and the all important “everyone welcome,” a church’s sign should not be the place for uncreative and lame attempts at humorous nuggets of Christian “wisdom.” Usually I just end up groaning when I read them (like with this one: God doesn’t reply to email, only knee-mail). However, the ironic part about the sign I saw in Winnipeg at my grandparent’s church is that I actually liked it! Here’s what it said:

Forgive your enemies
It messes with their heads

For some reason this sign struck a chord that actually made me think and appreciate the challenge it gave. Perhaps it struck me because it suggests something lacking in our world: forgiveness. And the reason I liked the “messes with their heads” part is because I think a well articulated theology of forgiveness does go against the grain of a world obsessed with personal satisfaction and power, particularly at the expense of others. I am sure that much more that could be said theologically, but what I liked most was that the sign wasn’t cheesy, but clever and humorous, almost edgy in fact. And coming from a small community church in Winnipeg, this was a pleasant surprise.

All said, I guess my experience with this sign has given me hope for church signs. I still think a “less is more” approach is most suitable, but this one example reveals that churches may be able to say something relevant, even through the medium of their sign…


Peter Thurley said...


I don't know if you remember Matt Cooper from youth group; I think he was leaving just as you were coming. In any case, he recently wrote two very mature pieces on forgiveness that I thought I would point you to. The first one was particularly compelling to me, and the second one follows up on the practical issues arising from the first. Have a look at it, if you wish.

dwark said...

Thanks for the link! Matt's got some good insights into what I would agree is a much neglected aspect of theological and practical discussion.

Matt said...

Peter is plugging those pieces everywhere! Love it!

On this post Dave, I agree that this church sign is striking, but I don't really agree with the message it sends. It just doesn't sit right with me, as it seems to imply using forgiveness as a means of revenge. We, of course, know that forgiveness involves no revenge and no sense of spite whatsoever. Maybe it's just me. And I don't think it's a big deal, I mean, I don't think many people will think too much about it, besides of course, trying now to forgive so they can screw with the minds of those who've done them wrong lol!

Love the blog!

dwark said...

Hey, good to hear from you! Crazy how paths cross over the years!

In terms of your comments, I guess it depends on how you view the "messes with their heads part." I actually never read it as motivation for forgiveness, but simply emphasizing the point that a life of forgiveness is so contrary to how much of the world both individually and communally.

I would agree with you that forgiveness should not be a selfish endeavor, such as seeking revenge as you suggest.

Thanks for the insight!

Ryan said...

I came across the sign you mentioned - and many others - here today...

dwark said...

If you want to see plenty more signs, check you this website:


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