February 12, 2018 – Several years ago, I drove from the Atlanta airport to the Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia to attend a communications conference. During that dark, two-hour drive, I couldn’t see much around me, but the lack of traffic assured me I was driving along roads less traveled.
Along the way, I spotted a sign by the side of the road advertising “Ruby’s Beauty Shop and Prayer Chapel.” I chucked for a moment, then realized that in the middle of nowhere, it was probably convenient to bundle services like that. And I had to hand it to Ruby. She certainly got my attention. Where else in America could you get your haircut and then kneel for a quick prayer?
Four days later, on the way back to the airport in daylight, I noticed more signs. Driving through rural Georgia, it’s not uncommon to pass a Baptist Church every few miles, but the signs outside the churches advertising their services messages a little amusing and bit horrifying:
Forgive your enemies – it messes with their heads.
Honk if you love Jesus; text while driving if you want to meet him.
Staying in bed shouting, Oh God! does not constitute going to church. (Still can’t believe this one!)
We’re Baptist. No Protestant. (I thought churches were supposed to welcome everyone.)
Christmas: Easier to spell than Hanukkah.
If evolution is true, why help the poor? (I’m not even sure I get this one.)
Don’t let your worries kill you. Let the church help.
Read the Bible – it will scare the hell out of you.
Google can’t satisfy every search.
God answers knee-mail.
Since that day, I’ve noticed that this practice isn’t restricted to Southern Baptists Churches on the back roads of Georgia. Churches in Philadelphia and it surrounding suburbs use clever messaging techniques to garner attention, as well. I saw one last week outside of a Catholic Church that read:
I will raise you up on Eagles wings… Go Eagles! (They played in the Super Bowl that weekend).
Since church attendance his dropping, I suppose these clever signs are an attempt to draw people back, and it may be working. A recent Gallup poll actually recorded small upticks in attendance over the past two years. Who knew?