When I’m out driving, I pass many Christian churches. I notice that most of them have nice signs out front with the name of the church on them: St. Mary Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, Word of Faith Church, Calvary Methodist Church, Church of Jesus the Forgiver, etc. And many of the signs have a scripture quote or a clever saying. It’s the clever sayings that intrigue me.
What’s the purpose of having clever church signs? For one thing, they get our attention. Sometimes they also make us smile. Other times they invite us to see some aspect of our faith—like prayer, love, or hope—in a new way. And they do all of this in about 12 words or less.
So let’s take a look at some actual church signs. Here are 10 signs I found online. I suggest you just read them slowly, noting which (if any) you like, and which (if any) you don’t like. At the end, I have a little challenge for you:
First, are there any signs you liked or did not like? Why?
Here’s my challenge: If you had to come up with a sign in front of your church—in about 12 words or less—what would your sign say? It would be nice if some of you could share your signs with us.
In all of this it’s good to remember that the most effective and most beautiful sign a church can have is its members! A happy, generous, humble, patient, welcoming, and forgiving Christian community is by far the best sign for any church!
NOTE: HERE ARE THE SURVEY RESULTS
I want to thank all of you who filled out the survey. Before I share the results with you, let me say a couple of things. First I began this blog on February 13, 2012. My first few months I averaged 500 “hits” a week. That number has grown to 1400 “hits” a week. (Some of you have told me you read the blog early in the week and then come back later in the week to read the readers’ comments, so that 1400 does not necessarily represent actual individuals.) This blog now has 760 subscribers, those who signed up to receive each new post automatically every week.
I promised to award one of my books to one of you (selected randomly) just for filling out the survey. And the winner is (drum roll, please!): Sister Celeste Albers, OP, from Great Bend, Kansas! Congratulations, Celeste! At first I had a problem identifying the winner because I didn’t ask for your email addresses when you filled out the survey. (I’m still learning the fine points of blogging and surveys!) But I did some detective work and tracked her down.
And now to the survey. A total of 356 people took the survey. Not everyone answered every question; hence, the slight discrepancy in the numbers.
1. How long have you been reading “Sunflower Seeds”?
about 2 years – 61
about 1 year – 138
a few months – 106
I’m new – 45
2. How would you rate this blog?
5 stars – 279
4 stars – 65
3 stars – 3
2 stars – 0
1 star – 2
3. Do you ever share this blog with others?
yes, sometimes – 209
yes, often – 97
no – 42
4. Are there any reflections you particularly liked?
The answers were quite diverse. But these were mentioned most frequently:
– “What Advice Would St. Joseph Give?” (Dec. 16, 2013)
– “Going to Communion” (Jan. 13, 2014)
– “16 Turtles on a Log” (Sept. 30, 2013)
– “My Library Card” ((Dec. 9, 2013)
– “For Advent, I Wish You Peace” (Dec. 1, 2013)
– “Praying with My Address Book” (Jan. 7, 2013)
– “The Ways We Say Goodbye” (July 22, 2013)
– “Our Use of Stereotypes” (July 29, 2013)
– “What Did Jesus Look Like?” (September 23, 2013)
– “The Shooting at Chardon High School” (March 12, 2012)
– “Fr. Demetrius Dumm, OSB” (Dec. 30, 2013)
– “Uncle Hank: Veteran of World War II” (Nov. 4, 2013)
– “A Meditation on Snowplows” (Jan. 27, 2014)
– “What Would You Say to the Next Pope?” (Feb. 25, 2013)
– “Dietrich Bonhoeffer” (Sept. 9, 2013)
– “The Lesson of the Purple Petunia” (March 25, 2013)
– “Deer Tracks in the Snow” (Jan. 21, 2013)
– “Mary: She Was One of Us” (May 6, 2013)
– “The Joy of Working Crossword Puzzles” (Jan. 6, 2014)
5. Do you have any suggestions for future topics?
The vast majority of people said things like “I like the variety as it is” and “You and the Holy Spirit are doing a pretty good job choosing topics.” But a number gave me some good suggestions for future topics. Here are a few:
the saints (especially the lesser known ones), care givers, forgiving hurts, the cosmos, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, prayer, women’s struggles in the church, spiritual works of mercy, incarcerated women, technology, the role of cardinals in the church, the dynamics of family life, loneliness, hearing loss, losing friends, healing from woundedness, self-worth, seashells, clouds, human trafficking, dealing with chronic illness, generosity, looking forward, weight loss, recipes for lifting our spirits, seasonal topics, deserts, the psalms, unemployment, when the child becomes the parent, divorce, Super Bowl, living with change, lessons you’ve learned, mysteries, old pair of shoes, anything with scripture, pets, Jesus’ parables, depression, Pope Francis, church history, the death penalty, vocation discernment, difficult personalities in the work place, anger, perseverance, coal, what is a bad day, visiting the sick, anxiety, we are all interconnected.
I have enough topics to write about for at least a few more years!
6. Do you have any suggestions for making this blog better?
The vast majority said they like the blog as it is–the topics, the length of the reflections, the pictures, the writing style, the prayers, the reflective questions, and the humor. But there were some good suggestions too. Here are a few of them:
– give a daily quote
– provide links that are related to the topic
– could you write more than once a week?
– write something for teens and children
– always give a Bible verse to go along with the topic
– do more with artwork and graphics
– always suggest something for us to do
– make it easier to print the blog without the sidebars and other “stuff”
– recommend a book list
– a presence on social media would make the blog reach a wider audience
7. What is your gender?
– female – 308
– male – 16
8. What is your age?
– under 25 – 1
– 26-35 – 4
-36-45 – 12
-46-55 – 38
– 56-65 – 98
– 66-75 – 126
– 76-85 – 39
– over 85 – 7
9. Where do you live?
Most of you who took the survey live in the U.S. Here are the states that were represented:
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho
Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota
Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin
Ohio had the most survey takers with 78, followed by Pennsylvania with 25, both Florida and Texas with 22, both Michigan and New York with 14, and Wisconsin with 13
Nine countries were represented–plus a category called “unknown.” Here’s the breakdown:
USA – 333
Canada – 9
Unknown – 4
United Kingdom – 3
Taiwan – 1
South Africa – 1
New Zealand – 1
Australia – 1
Italy – 1
Kenya – 1
10. Is there anything else you would like to say?
Most people said “thank you,” wrote a personal note, or simply said “keep up the good work.”
Some of my impressions after seeing the results of this survey:
+ I was impressed by the number of viewers who took the survey: 356. That’s wonderful!
+ I felt very encouraged by the basically positive response to my blog. I’m energized to keep writing!
+ I was struck by the number of viewers who share my blog with others either occasionally or regularly.
+ I wondered how I could attract more male readers.
+ I wondered how I could attract more readers under 25.
+ I was excited to see so many states and 9 countries represented.
If you would like to say anything about the survey results, please do! Thanks again!