Note: [The last there weeks I have been deep into this “visibility project”. When I left for my family vacation, I knew I would be out of the office, but the creative part of the project was still heavy on my mind, especially when I saw these three church signs!]
I am on vacation. At least I am supposed to be on vacation. Vacations mean a lot of different things to many folks. Change of pace. Change of location, Warm weather. Cold weather. No work.
But for me, I am always looking and thinking about church stuff. I didn’t mean to do it. Honest! It is just that we drove by these churches and I saw their signs and I knew I had to make some comments……so here they are.
•••Three terrible church sign mistakes (of course, in my humble opinion!).
#1 Weathered Banner. Banner are very inexpensive. Back in the day, they used to cost a lot. I just went by a church that had a promotional banner that had long seen it’s better days. Tattered, weathered, beaten and faded. Ugh!
Is that what your church wants to portray? No way!
Today, go drive our away from your church and drive back in looking like a new guest would look. See it? Yep, there is a something there that needs an upgrade. Go ahead, fix it and paint it or replace it. Sharpen up. (I am under conviction right now. ugh! I better get some paint)
#2 Fancy not Practical. We drove by a nice looking building that was obviously a church. It caught our eye from a distance. We immediately focused on the sign out front, that caught our eye as well. It was a metal hanging sign in the shape of a horse. It was pretty cool looking. We are out here in the west and the church was just taking advantage of a very popular symbolic shape. The big problem was, because of the shape there was not enough room for all the data about the church. How do solve that? Just shrink the text so small it could not be read in the time that a person has as they are driving by.
Cool idea, bad execution.
This is a typical problem of designing a sign in an office or hanging “mock ups” on a wall. Drivers are often hundreds of feet away and have only 5 seconds or less to read a sign. We tried really hard to read it and we failed. I have no idea even what kind of church it was. I could never recommend it, talk about it, or mention it in conversation. That is bad visibility. You want folks of the community to know where you are. Hint: Test your sign under real conditions. Recreate the distances and time allotted to read the message. It is better to have the sign readable, than fancy!
#3 Preaching not Informing We saw this one on the edge of a mid-sized community today. A giant word “Grace”. That’s all! The word “Grace” is a great message, but it is not informative. At the risk of being misquoted and labeled a heretic…Grace is not enough. The people of that community needed more than “Grace”. Grace was not able to get the job done. (wow, I felt terrible even writing those sentences!)
Now, in their defense, I am sure they wanted to confer that God’s grace is huge. And I fully agree, but the problem is grace has to be conferred person-to-person. Since I need God’s grace, I really need a person to tell me about it. I need to know where and when I can meet up with the grace givers. No luck with that sign. I wasn’t even sure if there was a building nearby.
I know, I know. My judgment is harsh. True, there may have been other signs to those churches I missed. They might have some good explanations. But…..a community’s judgement is even harsher.
This I know is true. you only get one chance to make a first impression. Every day the banner is tattered, the drive-by’s can’t read your sign or you can’t get basic information, is another day wasted in practical local church outreach. I believe a vibrant, active and effective local church is the greatest hope for your community.Every day things are sloppy or poorly thought out is one more chance you have missed to be that visible effective and outreach-oriented local church.
P.S. I just finished another training video for the new “Five Days to Better Church Visibility” email course. Although this blog posts deals with physical signage, the course has a big focus on how your church can be more visible online. The wait list for this FREE course is growing! Click the link below to get your invitation!
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