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Wright Words: Does your church sign tell the truth?
If your church had a sign, what would it say? - photo by Jason Wright
Last week I attended church in Romney, West Virginia. Its a cozy, quiet town where even the church mice whisper.

The beautiful trip to Romney from my home in Woodstock, Virginia, isnt a drive. Its a painting. Embedded in the scenery are roadside church signs announcing service times, special guests, and both inspiring and quirky quotes.

They invite everyone from the first timer to the widow who hasnt missed a Sunday since 77 to walk through their doors. Perhaps, above all, whether they spell it out in plastic letters or not, these signs suggest what to expect when you enter.

The last such sign I noticed before arriving at the small chapel said:

All Christians Have The Same Boss

I nodded, smiled, pulled to the side of the sleepy street and took a picture. The photo quickly disappeared into my iPhone, but the message lingered all day long.

I thought of the many church signs Ive passed through my years on five-lane highways and rural roads barely big enough for the squirrels and me. Are all those signs really telling the truth?

Perhaps your church, like mine, doesnt have a sign 15 feet from the road. But if it did, what would it say?

Join us! Well save you a seat.

Come in. Well love you!

Welcome! Our family isnt complete without you.

Maybe. But, would it be true?

Have you ever been a member of a congregation where other signs might be more accurate and painfully honest?

Join us! But dont sit in my pew.

Come in! Well judge you!

All are welcome! Unless youre in blue jeans, then we might stare.

Were glad to have you! But, lets be real, just this Sunday. Weve been a small church for a very long time and we feel like family. We welcome you today, but dont let the chapel door hit you on the way out.

Fine, so that last one might not fit on the sign, but the spirit of it sure would.

Those must be the exceptions, right?

Certainly at the humble church I attended in West Virginia, which also didnt have a sign, none of those negative hypotheticals would have fit.

Theirs could have said any of these.

Welcome! We will serve you.

Come in. But dont sit anywhere except next to me!

Join us! Were not a family without you.

At the end of a very long Sabbath day I pulled into my driveway and sat for a moment. I thought of the signs Id passed next to churches ranging from large enough to hold 1,000 visitors to perhaps barely big enough for the pastor and his immediate family. All of them, I choose to believe, were warm, inviting, kind and accurate.

Then I looked at the patch of melted snow and soggy grass near my own home and wondered. What if my home had a roadside sign? What would it say? How would it promote what to expect inside?

Come in! But if you stain the carpet, were sending you the bill.

Welcome. But dont stay too long, our favorite show is on.

Join us! Well love you! But only if you look like us, pray like us and believe precisely what we believe.

I certainly hope none of those reflect what to expect. But I fear on some days, they might. Thank heaven the letters are changeable, especially on the imaginary signs.

If your church has a sign, I invite you to consider whether it accurately reflects the collective personality and behavior of your church family. And if you dont have a sign, consider what it might say if you did.

As for me, if I could design a sign in front of my local chapel, I would want it to say that we know God lives. We know that he loves us. We know that he loves you, too.

It better be a big sign, because theres more.

This isnt our house. Its his. The pews, principles, even the words we speak and the air we breathe belong to him.

Trust us, were imperfect. Well stick our feet in our mouths and sometimes well fumble around as children of God are meant to. But no matter what you look like, where youre from, or whether you have a Ph.D. or dreams of a GED, we will love you. In fact, we already do.

Now thats a church sign worth aspiring for.

Come to think of it, I want that one in my front yard, too.

Guess Ive got some work to do.
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