A sure sign of dodgy church marketing.

Look at this poster – I knew it was bad the first second I saw it, yet for a second I could not pinpoint just what was so absurd about it…

Now, it seems pretty obvious.

This sign was up for months after it was even relevant. If, indeed, it ever was.

Remember when Osama was captured? President Obama was careful not to be seen to be engaging in triumphalism, to be capitalising on the event.

He didn’t want to exploit it.

Well I guess there was a meeting at this Petersham church to consider how they could tap into the public debate… And in another church, that might have been where the idea stopped.

Does a church with a billboard have to join every debate? If it’s a typical matter of international diplomacy, there’s usually not much to hang a witty slogan on.

Kevin Rudd signs trade deal with pacific islands – Will God save Tonga’s currency or your soul? See, it just doesn’t work.

Church street signs, – or, Wayside Chapels as they have been called for reasons I have never understood, Curbside maybe… – have clearly become something of a proud statement that a church has its finger on the pulse.

They are also a chance to show some delicacy, wit or even some hope. The kind of hope this sign offers drivers passing by (which is thousands daily, by the way) lies somewhere between guilt and emotional manipulation.

This sign in particular fails for trying to exploit an issue that has little to teach the unchurched masses that can be explained in five words.

The topic involves the death of a man widely felt to be a mass-murderer, a terrorist with little value for the human life and possibly a cult leader calling other vulnerable types to become suicide bombers. Bin Laden’s crimes are well documented, his evil is nearly synonymous with his name or image.

This church, in Sydney’s inner west, thought it ok to compare his life with that of yours or mine.

We’ve all sinned, and in some bible verses, it implies God considers all sins ‘equal’, so let’s draw a straight line between his salvation and that of the average Sydneysider.

Errr… NO.

I reckon the average driver passing this sign has seen this sign and thought – “Bloody hell, that compares me to Osama. Stinking church.”

If you were to have a weighty theological debate, you could get into the nitty gritty of sins, our accountability and judgment.

But a sign is one-way communication. In the social age, the medium is itself judgmental. People need a ‘reply path’. But a billboard says I have something to say, sit there and listen. Poor form for a church, I would have thought. A sign needs at least a prominent website link, a facebook page, a bold phone number…

It’s better if the sign isn’t incendiary, offensive or ambiguous, but failing that, churches with billboards should have a social media team ready to go and respond to questions that should arise for people.

I should not have to come into your church to reply to your slogan.

That would be a trick to get me in the door – and we’re well past those days, right?

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2 responses to “A sure sign of dodgy church marketing.

  1. P

    Hej Luke, this is a standard poster is from Outreach Media, which supplies posters to churches all around Australia to put to provoke comment. This is run by FEVA Ministries, based up at Petersham Anglican. They have a very fundamentalist/puritan bent to their thinking, and this is not the only example of posters that have not been that well thought through. I find this quite alienating and judgmental.

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