I must admit one of my guilty pleasures, when I have some free time is to scroll certain hashtags on twitter and to just sit and laugh. One of those hashtags is #churchsigns. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not laughing at churches but there are some masterfully crafted messages on church signs if you haven't noticed. When I found the hashtag, I was shocked by the number of churches that still use church signs. In our digital l age I would assume that the majority of people seek out churches online. But when I dug a little deeper, I found a study conducted by the National Evangelical Association that revealed, 10% of new church members cited the outdoor church sign as the deciding factor for joining a church. So, church signs still have value and they are here to stay!
Here are a some of my favorites.
Like I said these signs are funny, but the humor doesn’t diminish the role of the church in our communities and it’s desire to draw people to Christ by sharing the good news. But what happens when the message is seen as a declaration, a conviction, a sin, or even a reprimand to passersby?
Well consider asking the congregates at Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California. On December 31, 2018, their Pastor Justin Hoke posted the following message on their church sign:
“Bruce Jenner is still a man.
Homosexuality is still a sin.
The culture may change.
The Bible does not.”
Pastor Hoke told the Daily Wire that he created the sign after reading a news story where a “biological male who identifies as female lashed out at a store clerk who had accidently referred to him with the masculine gender pronoun.”
Within two weeks there was swift local news coverage and community protests led by the LGBTQ community who stated that they were not there to “debate” church members but to support the LGBTQ community in a positive way. There were hundreds of supporters but ultimately the church sign was vandalized on January 9 and by Saturday, January 12, Pastor Hoke resigned.
I don’t believe that the church sign caused the resignation. I believe that the church sign was a tiping point for questionable leadership which may have already been brewing. But we will never know for sure. In the end Pastor Hoke shared that he didn’t want to leave but the congregants felt otherwise based on the information that he shared on his Facebook below:
1. I was informed by our other elder that he felt he could no longer follow my lead as Pastor of TBPC.
2. I was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC.
3. Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave.
4. Our other elder was agreeable to stay and assume the pastoral responsibilities.
5. Therefore, it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the local body for us (TBPC and the Hoke family) to part ways.
So what do you think? What are your thoughts about using church signs to communicate with potential members? Is this pastor a martyr for the gospel or is this a case of poor leadership?