Just a short post for you today instead of a long-winded one…I wanted to share an e-mail that Shanan W. sent (thanks, Shanan!). Church folk can come up with some funny sh*t. I’d like to know how successful billboards and other signs are in recruiting church members. (It must have some affect or churches wouldn’t spend the money on them.)

Shanan writes, “Just wanted to tell you a little story about my daily commute and the crazy sign I have to endure while sitting in traffic every morning. Calvary of Phoenix took over a strip mall right off the freeway several years back. They put up one of those ginormous digital display signs that they can program with all sorts of quippy sayings that are broadcasted for the captive audience that is the morning rush hour commute. A couple of my “favorites” that I see daily are:

From the “hipster” corner… “God answers knee mail.” “When your life needs a reboot, remember, Jesus saves.”

Then there is the egotistical… “When it comes to heaven, it’s who you know that counts.”

And the guilt-driven… “God forgives you. Yes, even for that.”

Well, apparently, neither hip, nor egotistical nor even guilt-driven was working well for them, because today, it was: “If you’re living like God doesn’t exist, YOU HAD BETTER BE RIGHT!” Yes, all caps.

What is it with religious people and the blatant use of fear as a motivating tactic? And what is it with the people who read that and go… OMG, I’d better get in there?!! I mean, it turns my stomach. It’s blatant scare-tactics. It’s manipulation on the basest of levels.”



66 responses to “Recruiting

  1. God believes in you even when you don’t believe in Him.

    Be careful, not all roads lead to heaven.

    Yes, Lord!

    Yes, Lord, we’ll ride with you!

    Mitt Romney, God’s choice for president.

    More, Lord!

    Jesus loves you and God has a plan for your life.

    God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

    You may not go to hell for smoking cigarettes, but you’ll sure smell like you’ve been there!

  2. I call it “Believer’s Remorse” The fact that someone can doubt what you have been taught is irrefutable truth, can cause you to doubt your beliefs and then you begin to wonder if you are wasting your time and the tapestry of your life unravels. It’s better to force everyone to believe your “Truth” than admit an alternative.

  3. LanceThruster

    I recently saw the bumper sticker —

    Life is short. Heaven is forever

    Also saw painted on the side of a building —

    If God seems far away, who moved?

  4. New ones today…. “If you die today, where will you be tomorrow?” and “The Perfect Church for those who aren’t”

  5. I did see one I actually liked once. It said, “Love Jesus? Keep texting and driving and you’ll see him soon!”

  6. Saw one recently that said “Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil … no point.” And I thought, “Really? So I guess there’s no point in me loving my kids, raising them to be good citizens, helping other people get their lives straight, creating music for others to enjoy, etc, etc …”

    How about this one then: “You only have one life to live on this earth, so you’d better make it a good one!”

  7. LanceThruster

    I love this song –

    God is Better than Football –

    • @LT Liked the multi-cultural slant to the song–better than football AND cricket!

      • God is better than football
        God is better than beer
        God is better than cricket
        ‘Cause God is always here

        He isn’t shut on Sundays
        He isn’t stopped by rain
        He’s better than a captain coach
        You can talk to Him again and again …

  8. There is a baptist student center in my college town that has a relatively new (manual, thankfully!) sign and they like to post the punny things. I find them kind of amusing (their first one was something like “we asked for a sign!”) I kinda like the “knee mail” thing for the pun aspect, but would quickly grow weary of having to see that sign every day. Shanan, I feel for you in that respect.

    I do wonder how they work, however. It seems more like preaching to the choir. Plus, who joins a church or other group based on their large sign? Though I’m sure that they would say if they got one convert due to the sign, it was worth it.

    • “We asked for a sign” *snort* (that actually made me laugh)

      And yeah, some of the puns are funny the first time you see it. I’ve been driving by that sign for years. They used to have a fairly simple sign (just words) but now it’s all digital with pictures and stuff… like a jumbo-tron. All I can think is, how many mouths would that have fed for the price of that screen? How many homeless could they have connected with, or children could they have cared for?

      • @Shanan Seriously!! “All I can think is, how many mouths would that have fed for the price of that screen? How many homeless could they have connected with, or children could they have cared for?”

        And why doesn’t Joel Osteen run a soup kitchen out of his house (it’s the lord’s house anyway!)?

      • Shanan, there you go again with all that “thinking” nonsense. Who needs a brain when you’ve got Jesus! 😉

    • @MelissaM You gotta wonder how cost-effective it is. Don’t know how much those signs are, but, no doubt, they’re not cheap. I can’t imagine there is much return on their investment.

  9. When I see build boards likes these, I just shake my head an wonder how so many people can believe in this all-powerful sky wizard.

    Ones like these, “Life is short. Heaven is forever.” just make me sad because so many people (my mother included) don’t live ‘this’ life to the fullest thinking it doesn’t matter in the long term. So very sad when the only life someone will get is wasted.

    • Agreed, Kami… or the “Not of this World” thing… rubs me the same way. I just want to say, “You *are* of this world and this world is what you have. Enjoy it! Find the beauty around you and LIVE!”

  10. LanceThruster

    Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue. ~ EUGENE O’NEILL, The Great God Brown


  11. Proselytizers of the Christian faith have been infamous for using fear as a tool to convert “non-believers” to the Christian faith. Quite often they justify this action by using the poorly mistranslated scripture Jude 1:23. Sermons from Pentecostal and Baptist denominations resound this loudly with their focus on the physical attributes of “hell” and how terrible it will be to go there.

    I’m not sure if they’re aware that they are manipulating people, or indirectly forcing people, to convert or to serve God with their behavior. It’s clear that they have good intentions, because a lot of them believe the things that they tell others whole heartedly. They sincerely want all the people around them to be in heaven with them.

    I find the most effective way to see someone convert is to be real and to be there for them. Be their friend. Don’t engage them in conversation about topics or subjects where they’re not comfortable.

    If someone converts, it’s because they’re ready to convert. It’s because they already believe what you believe (and probably believed it all along). You can’t force someone to believe something that you believe. You can’t force someone to convert.

    That being said, I want to share some of my favorite “church” signs in the spirit of the e-mail you shared:

    “Try Jesus. If you don’t like Him, the devil will always take you back.”

    “Are you ready for heaven?”

    “The most powerful position is on your knees.”

    “There are some questions that can’t be answered by Google.”

    “Our prayers are with the black family.” (racist)

    Churches are their own enemies. There are many other signs like this that I would share, but I don’t have the time.

    • Hey DQ, you seem like a sensible guy. Do you ever cringe when you hear people say things like “it must have been God’s will” when say a child dies or someone’s going through a painful divorce? I know I rarely ever said those Christian cliche’s that we’re all addressing here when I was a Christian. I didn’t want to say them because some of them sounded so disrespectful towards God. (Yes, I was actually that way when I was Christian.) Those phrases can also sound cold and over-used to a person seriously hurting inside.What is your resolve in directing people towards “the light” when all they can see is darkness?

      • I cringe over a lot of things. A lot of unfair things happen in life that we can’t explain and that we don’t understand. I don’t know why some people choose to murder. I don’t know why some kids die from cancer. I do believe that as painful as some circumstances become that after we come through them we are stronger people. That’s what I believe is meant by the scripture that says all things work together for our good. God isn’t taking responsibility or claiming that its His will, but that, even though it doesn’t feel like it now, eventually it works out for the best.

  12. LanceThruster

    Great First Church of Springfield marquees –

    Quit St3aling Our L3tt3rsI>


  13. LanceThruster

    Ouch! Some real skull crushers here –

    Thank God when things go well,
    Thank yourself when they go to h*ll.

  14. LanceThruster

    Martin Mull’s gospel tune “Jesus is Easy,” which linked the born-again movement to other 1970s’ lifestyle fads:

    I tried yoga, I couldn’t do it
    I tried macrobiotics, I couldn’t chew it
    I blew it
    It made a fool of me
    Now I’m back to thinkin’ things that I thought when I was three

    Jesus is easy just get down on your knees
    He’s gonna listen to your every prayer
    Jesus is easy just get down on your knees
    He’s everywhere. Jesus Christ, he’s everywhere!

    I tried reefer, I couldn’t roll it
    I tried acid and mescaline I could not control it
    I tried coke I couldn’t afford
    My soul was feelin’ bored
    Now I’m high as a kite
    I’m up in heaven with the lord!


    I tried women, oh how I tried
    I took little boys in leather suits outside
    And had ’em tied
    I tried a poodle, a collie
    Kukla, Fran & Ollie
    But Mary in a manger’s got me satisfied

    Jesus is easy just get down on your knees
    He’s gonna listen to your every prayer
    Jesus is easy just get down on your knees
    He’s everywhere. Jesus Christ, he’s everywhere!

  15. I have a hard time believing that billboards have any impact on the general public. I think what it does is gets other believers to say, “that was a good one!” then they tell the church how good and powerful it was. So then the church just keeps ’em coming. The general public, even the non-churched, I imagine think the signs are a waste of space and money. The one by my house says “It’s better to be divided by the truth than to be united in error.” Dumb.

    • I think what it does is gets other believers to say, “that was a good one!” then they tell the church how good and powerful it was.

      I agree with you, Julie!

  16. I’d like to know how successful billboards and other signs are in recruiting church members.

    I sometimes suspect that many believers are filled with doubt, and they need this kind of stuff to reassure themselves.

  17. This one is up in town right now: “Body piercing explained here”

    • @MichaelB I saw that one!

      (I could make it read: Body pi3rcing explain3d h3r3!)

      • @Deb You’d be my hero.

        The other one I saw a while back was a series on marriage entitled “Lord of the Rings”. My friends and I had fun with that one. “Lesson One: One does not simply walk into Matrimony.”

        It went downhill from there.

    • @MichaelB some of those are HILARIOUS. How do people not say those out loud first before putting them in writing and think about how they really sound? My favorite was “Bring your sins to the altar and drop it like its hot”. That made me LOL.

  18. More and more, I’m beginning to equate the extremely religious with mental illness. I know that correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, but there sure does seem to be a strong link.

  19. New one on the way back from lunch… “God always answers prayers. Sometimes the answer is no.” Well that’s mighty convenient.

  20. I think Neil has it right. They are more for the believers, than the unbelievers. Especially ones like “If you’re living like God doesn’t exist, YOU HAD BETTER BE RIGHT!” . “Phew, thank God I’m right”

  21. Manipulation and scare tactics are all that’s left when you can’t win on merit or logic.

  22. Jesus on the inside, working on the outside.

    Shine, Jesus, shine.

    God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.

  23. Hmmm, I don’t know that I agree with your idea that it “It must have some affect or churches wouldn’t spend the money on them.” As a former evangelical, I can honestly say that the efficacy of a stance is irrelevant to the Religious Right. In their view, the “truth” needs to be told, regardless of whether or not people will listen.

    • @Matt Norquist Interesting….I think the idea that “the truth must be told” regardless of who is listening or who wants to listen is what so many nonbelievers find offensive.

      • Not enough “like” buttons on this blog to properly flag this one!

        Add to that the assumption that everyone just automatically believes the nonsense they spill out in every conversation.

        • @Diana I was trying to figure out 1. How to get the “Like” button off the post and 2. How to “like” comments. If any of you who use WordPress know of a way to add “like” buttons to comments, let me know!

  24. I still remember one of the first church freeway billboards I saw when I arrived in Texas. It was letting new comers know that this church was raffling off prizes to visitors to the church. Each person would get a raffle ticket. The prizes were things like tvs, dvd players and even a car. Wanted to go ask them how long I had to attend before I could claim my prize.

    Being in so many church leadership meetings that sounded like boardroom meetings for major companies gave me such a headache. If god was doing all the work bringing people in, why did we have to spend so much time making decisions about coffee, donuts, chairs, music, what gifts to give to the Sunday school kids etc. Very little time was spent looking into fulfilling the actual needs of people. I would have loved to go to some seminary class on church building and see how similar it is to a marketing class

    • @Amy B Hmmm. Good point. It makes sense that they’d teach marketing and other business skills… Kind of sad that religion is supposedly about spiritualism, not materialism, yet they use worldly junk as bait. Guess they can’t see the irony…

  25. It’s also interesting how the religious side will get all in an uproar if non-believers put up non-believer messages on billboards! If God is real, then why do they need such hard sell tactics? I never understood that!

    On a side note, I saw a story a week or so ago about a neurosurgeon and a book he wrote about his experience with heaven. Now the book is being scrutinized for its inconsistencies, etc. I found it odd that he said he was in a coma and went to heaven… Um, if he was in a coma, he wasn’t even dead! There was also a woman who wrote a book about her near death experience and in it, she says that God told her that her son was going to die so she needed to be alive. Her son did die… 9 years later! If she had said he died 2 days later, then I might wonder.

    • @Gina That is interesting how, for decades, nonbelievers have sat by silently, and now, any time an atheist puts up a nonbeliever billboard, it makes news!

      I read about that neurosurgeon and what his colleagues said. Seems to me like he was just using his title to increase his credibility. But for me, when I see a doctor is very religious, I find another doctor.

  26. The church I pass on the way to work every day has a big anti-abortion sign. It used to have a graphic picture of a post-abortion fetus, but the community outcry made them change it. Now it’s a picture of a distressed women with the words, “Abortion Harms Women” and a comment on the percentage of women who experience depression and/or PTSD afterwards.

    I frequently have the urge to add words above the sign so that it reads:

    The Attitude of this Church about
    Abortion Harms Women

    I’d do it, but I really think they wouldn’t actually get the point.

    • @Diana What state do you live in? Sounds like the church knows what’s best for women. Just like Rick Perry.

      “Abortion Harms Women” yet is less dangerous than childbirth. And I wonder how the percentage of women who experience depression after an abortion compare to those who experience it after childbirth.

      Actually, I’ll just look it up now….(Feet running to check.) A .gov website listed the number of women with Post-partum depression at around 13 percent. Here’s info from Pro-Choice

      Myth: Women who have abortions suffer from “Post Abortion Syndrome”

      Fact: It is rare for women to suffer long-term emotional problems after having an abortion-in fact, studies show that the rate of post-partum depression (depression after childbirth) is higher than the rate of serious depression after abortion. However, anti-choice activists have invented “post abortion syndrome”, and claim women who have had an abortion suffer from a set of emotional symptoms such as sever depression, anxiety, and guilt, in order to scare women and prevent them from choosing abortion. In 1989, the American Psychological Association convened a panel that found no evidence that such a condition exists. Instead, they found most women experience the most stress before choosing abortion. Every women and every situation is different. You might experience a range of emotions after the procedure. Some women feel relief or a sense that they did the right thing after having an abortion. Others may feel anger, guilt, or sadness for a short time after having an abortion. Anti-choice activists have also sought to attack women’s rights to choose by offering so-called “post-abortion counseling” that promotes anger against the health care provider, rather than helping women explore their feelings about their situation in an unbiased, supportive atmosphere. Exhale, a San Francisco-based group, offers unbiased post-abortion counseling to women nationwide. They can be reached at 1-866-4-EXHALE or at

  27. Oy, these types of scare tactics just piss me off. They play on people’s fears and people’s doubts. I feel so bad for those people who do hear some resonance of truth in these billboards. They are well on their way to being brainwashed.

  28. Hi again.
    Probably because the churches here are not in a competition or to make money per se but more or less ‘religious institutions’, we do not see a lot of advertising.
    Anyway, what makes me chuckle every time is the Pentecostal’s sign that says “Jesus comes, are you ready” 🙂
    Of course those of more vulgar disposition have taken to themselves to enhance the signs with comments like “Do you dare to spit it out?”

    P.S. If anyone has not visited Tuscany, I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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