Church Signs (Plus the Results of Our Survey)
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!
Thanks for sharing the survey results. Intersting stuff.
Here is my church sign: Come in from the cold, God has a warm spot waiting inside.
What do you think?
Looks good to me, Kathleen–especially with the severe winter some of us are having! Melannie
Hi Sr. Melannie
Thanks for sharing the survey results with your readership and warm Congratulations to Sr. Celeste! It was fun to read the results. The way I found your blog was through SND’s website. Your audience, of course will increase as longer as you keep driving them to your website and promoting it as much as you can. To reach young adults, you’ll need to be where they are ie. facebook, twitter and linked-in, to name a few. There should be a blogging index somewhere so that people can identify and choose which blogs that are of interest to them. Meanwhile, all of us can promote it to our friends, families and clients. I certainly will.
Thanks again for the joy you bring to us every Monday!
Happy Feast of St. Blaise!
Dear Nancy, Thanks for your suggestions! Sr. Melannie
Hello Sister Melannie,
LOVE LOVE LOVE your weekly inspiration! I also enjoy reading your reflections in “Living Faith”. This would be my church sign – “May God bless you always, in all ways”
Have a beautiful day!
Good church sign, Angela! And THANK YOU for your ENTHUSIASTIC response to my blog! Sr. Melannie
First of all, I want to thank Sr Melannie for her extra work at hunting me down to let me know I had won! What a “God moment” I had when I returned her call and got to visit with her for a few minutes and share some other “God moments” I have had and those of the people I worked with in the RCIA. Thanks for sending us the results of the survey. Your messages are a great blessing for me, and I will continue to share them with others. Peace to you and all of your readers!
Dear Celeste, I was so happy to chat with you the other day. I’m so glad I tracked you down. Congratulations again! Melannie
Maybe the challenge isn’t to get male readers, maybe the challenge is to get males to respond to surveys 😉 (mea culpa)
Dear Mark, I am impressed by your humility! Thanks for giving me another slant on the dearth of male respondents to my survey. You are forgiven, dear cousin! Dolly
Sign at St Francis of Assisi church in Hillcrest, NY:
‘This church is opened between Christmas and Easter ‘
Had to chuckle when I read it……
What a great sign! Thanks, Pat! Melannie
Take heart. I was pleased to be among your peak group, age wise. Did you realize that we also represent those most likely to buy Buicks? That says something about the quality of your work and the challenge of attracting a younger clientele.
Dear Tom, I laughed out loud when I read your response–that the peak group “represent those most likely to buy Buicks”! I now have concrete proof of the quality of my readership–and I include you in that, Tom! Melannie
Not especially intended to be inviting, but the local Lutheran church in snowy Wisconsin has a sign that says, “If you are praying for snow, please stop!” I always take a second to read all church signs and hope they call many more to seek out the Lord.
Also, I am happy to be in the largest demographic by age. Yea oldies!!
Dear Mary, Thank you for your great sign…And congratulations on landing in my largest demographic by age. What would I do with you “oldies”? Melannie the oldie
Whoever is praying for the snow, please stop.
How appropriate for this winter in many parts of our country. Thanks for sending this along, Kathy. Sr. Melannie
My church sign: Have you talked to God today? He’s waiting to hear from you. Penny
I really like your sign suggestion, Penny! It’s so simple. Sr. Melannie
I am impressed that your ministry is as widespread as it is! I think this is an awesome testimony to the fact that our small deeds in a big world actually has a rippling effect across the globe! We cannot think that we are insignificant when we are doing God’s work/will.
Dear Mary Ann, Thank you for reminding us that no one is insignificant…and the ripple effect of even small deeds. Melannie
This ought to be somewhere for young people (though maybe not on a church sign) “Let every OMG be part of a prayer or not used.”
Dear Annie, You have a wonderful idea here! If only every voiced OMG were a prayer! Melannie
Or maybe the church sign could read:
Great one, Annie! Melannie
For the sign, I would choose “Jesus loves you to death, and beyond”
I like this short yet profound reminder. Thanks, Barb! Sr. Melannie
Thank you for the benefit of your comments and reflextions, GOD Bless You All!
You’re welcome, Alfredo! Sr. Melannie
I was struck by a motto on a matatu (taxi in Kenya) and it could be a good church sign: “Be relaxed, God is in control”
Dear Bro. Leo, You prove that we can find inspiration anywhere–even on a taxi! Thanks for sending us this! Sr. Melannie
My church sign “Everytime you say God, He says what.
A great reminder of the available and interest of God when it comes to us, God’s children! Thanks, Betty! Melannie
Thanks for sharing your survey results. Most interesting!! Someone recently sent me this sign:
No God — no peace. Know God — know peace.
A fine contribution, Sister Dolores! Thanks for passing it along. Sr. Melannie
Sign I wish I penned “May God make me the person my dog thinks I am.”
The numbers ;
-On the dirth of male respondents – Sadly reflects the attendees at our masses.
-1 out of 324 under 25 that’s .3% – not surprising that the main influencers of this group would be the 25 to 45 year olds -teachers , parents etc and their numbers came in a 4.9%
Take heart. It is columns like yours that address the connectivity of our faith to our everyday. This, I feel, is key to the care and feeding of our youth. Perhaps there is a demographic marketing guru in your reader mix that can suggest ways to “Flog the Blog”
Dear John, What a good idea for a sign! I love it! And thanks for your slant on some of the results of the survey. You make some good points. Sr. Melannie
My church sign: “You are a child of God. Please call home.”
Thanks for encouraging us place richer and more frequent calls, Sr Melannie!
Dear Lisa, I love the appeal to “coming home…” And I’m glad you find my blog encouraging…Sr. Melannie
One church sign I saw online I liked: LIFE IS A PUZZLE. LOOK HERE FOR THE MISSING PEACE.
And one just up the road: The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.
Thanks for all of the inspiration!
Two great contributions! Thank you, Cathy! Sr. Melannie