You’ve seen them on the side of the road, causing you to crane your neck, squint your eyes, and question your own sanity.
The ominous signs, beckoning us to secure our own salvation with bad puns and half-baked attempts at humor.
I’m talking, of course, about bad church signs.
The “Citizen Kane” of bad church signs?
OK, so they’re not all bad. Everyone can use a chuckle every once in awhile. And if a funny sign attracts even a few people to join your church, wasn’t it worth it?
Maybe, but some church signs are so bad that they should never, ever be copied, unless you’re trying to scare people away.
21 bad church signs to avoid
I usually write about church management software, and how it can help make running your church easier. But because it’s Halloween season, let’s have a little fun and take a different approach.
I asked my church communications friends on Facebook for some of their favorite bad church signs, and perused the collection on Pinterest, and this is what we came up with.
These are all examples of what not to do when advertising your church. I’ve grouped the botched signs into different categories, and included a takeaway for each group of gaffes.
*Just a disclaimer that we know it’s possible to Photoshop these signs, and some of the more unbelievable examples you’ll find online aren’t authentic. But we made every effort to include only genuine articles.
The creative minds behind the following signs had their heart in the right place, trying to get in on the spirit of the season. But their efforts missed the mark.
1. Trick nor Treat
I wonder what they put up for Arbor Day?
2. Pumpkin spice flavored blasphemy
The road to hell is paved with pumpkin spices
3. The Monster Mash
Is this service presided over by the Cryptkeeper?
4. Happy Easter?
You don’t even want to see what they do with the Santa Claus effigy during Christmastime
The takeaway: It’s always fun to be a part of the different holiday seasons, but you never want your message to be so silly or heavy-handed that anyone who does come into your church for the first time won’t be able to take you seriously.
Social media mishaps
You might be looking to reach the younger generation by talking about things they use, such as smartphones and social media. There are right ways and wrong ways of doing that, and these examples definitely fall in the latter category.
5. Think differently if you’re considering this sign
But what if I have an Android device?
6. Tom’s oldest friend
Which one of the miracles involved Friendster?
Another one for the “Social Media Mistakes” file
8. Billy Ocean mashup
I’m assuming MyBook is the Bible and not some competing social network
The takeaway: It’s great to stay in tune with how people—especially young people—are communicating. But are you actually making an effort to communicate with them via those channels, or just sprinkling buzzwords here and there because they sound funny?
The hall of dad jokes
Puns are a church sign maker’s best friend. They’re quick and easy, and they can usually elicit at least a chortle from passersby. But there’s an art to punning, and these examples belong in a museum.
9. Cosmetic theology
This sign hit its peak during the heyday of Nip/Tuck in the mid 2000s
10. Remember the Sabbath
Why can’t you have both?
11. A game of Hangman?
Who’s going to avoid a church with this message on the sign? I M
12. The church of bad puns
I’m not Abel to make sense of this one, but after reading it I feel like I need to take a Bathsheba
13. For the “cool” church in town
This sign becomes much less amusing when the actual air conditioning fails
The takeaway: Even bad puns are good for a quick laugh (or a pity laugh, at least). But the problem with most of these is that they’ve been run into the ground, and using them makes your church look lazy and bad at jokes. If you’re going to pun, at least be original.
Pop culture calamities
Here are examples of churches that tried to figure out what pop cultural phenomenon was hot at the moment and then piggy back off of that buzz. As you can imagine, that approach rarely goes well.
14. The Church of the Doggfather?
The fizzather, the sizzon, and the hizzoly spizzirit—please make it stop
15. Paternity test
Expect this joke to be refreshed with a Star Wars theme in the coming months
16. Pokemon groan
Is there no end to the inappropriate Pokemon Go newsjacking?
17. Eternal salvation isn’t a meme
He was also into facial hair, woodworking, sandals, and artisan wine before they became trendy
The takeaway: The problem with using pop culture references in your church signage is that they might already be outdated or overdone by the time people see your carefully crafted joke. Your church will hopefully be around a lot longer than Pokemon Go, so do you really want to associate yourself with a fad? If your message comes from the heart, with the same passion your pastor preaches with on Sunday, you won’t risk trivializing that message on a hastily slapped together sign.
What were they thinking?
This last group of examples defies category. I’m still trying to figure out what someone was thinking when they put these letters up on the sign board one at a time. If you have any theories, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
18. The church that cried wolf
Isn’t this akin to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater?
19. The wet blanket
You better believe The Hokey Pokey works in heaven, though
20. The forecast for eternity
That’s why you need prayer conditioning?
21. God hates this sign
Someone literally should have been fired for this
Don’t be “that” church
I hope that these bad church signs lightened your day a bit. There is certainly room for humor in ministry, even if takes the form of a pun or dad joke every once in awhile. But good church communication comes from listening to your people, trying to see the good, and making yourself available. With that in mind, here are some articles that should actually help you reach the community better:
It is kind of fun to share groan-worthy church signs. What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments, or share them with me on Twitter @CapterraAC.
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