Commercializing the Church: “Dear World, I’m Sorry”

Along a stretch of I-35, in San Antonio, TX, that I drive daily, there stands this sign.


It’s always a face palm moment for me when I read it. I want to climb the sign, spray paint in tow, and cover it up the words with, ”Dear world, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry that the church markets herself like she has a product for sale.

I’m sorry that the church not only apes the world but does so in such inferior, childish, asinine ways.

I’m sorry that the church uses bait-and-switch techniques to get you in the door, passing out sugar-coated Jesus candy that rots more than teeth.

The message of the church is a divine man, suspended upon a cross, bleeding and dying out of love for you.

It’s the only message of the church. It may be not cool, or novel, or hip, or catchy. But it is Christ, God’s gift to all of us, God’s gift to the church, and the only message to the world that the church has to offer.

Put that on your sign.



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11 thoughts on “Commercializing the Church: “Dear World, I’m Sorry”

  1. Nicole on said:

    My daughter pointed that billboard out to me just this past weekend when we were in San Antonio. It’s right up there with the Austin church whose motto is “church for the rest of us.” It’s sad and almost hard to believe that their target audiences are really drawn in by these sorts of tactics.

    • Hi Nicole,
      Yes, the church must be careful about the image that it presents to the world. That’s what troubles me the most: when the church thinks she must be something other than what she actually is to do the work the Lord has given her. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Roger on said:

    The sign is not a theological statement, but an advertisement meant to attract people to check out the church. What is important is not the message on the sign, but the message people hear when they attend worship there. I don’t see anything in your article about the church or their ministry. I’d bet you’ve never attended there to check out what they’re doing or listen to the message they’re preaching. You can’t judge a ministry by a simple billboard sign. Perhaps if more churches actually made a commitment to advertise messages that would get people curious, they might see more visitors and actually see unbelievers come to know Christ. Instead, we criticize those who are actually doing something to reach the lost. I’ve always been appalled at the way churches who are doing little if anything to evangelize seem to enjoy beating up those who do. Let’s put up or shut up. If we don’t like the way another church is doing it, let’s do it in a way that we believe God would lead us to reach them. Unfortunately, it seems that some churches feel better about their lack of evangelistic fervor if they criticize those who are doing something. Let’s put up or shut up. That’s good theology.

    • Thank you, Roger. I wholeheartedly agree that churches are called by God to be about the work of spreading the Gospel. And that’s precisely why this sign, and others like it, bother me. You see, the message on the sign is, in fact, important. Vast numbers of people see that sign every day. Tens of thousands drive that interstate. And, of those who see it, a tiny, tiny fraction will ever find out anything about that church. All the others will know about that church is summarized on that billboard. And what is represented there is not evangelism. It’s a not-so-clever echoing of a beer commercial.

      As I said in the blog, we do not have a commodity to sell. We have a message to proclaim, inside and outside church. Let’s proclaim it. Let businesses advertise. Let the churches evangelize. And as they do, let them remember that the evangel of evangelize is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

  3. In the discussion regarding marketing the Church, this passage is quite relevant: 2 Corinthians 2: 17 “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” Further the Apostle is critical of others who do peddle God’s Word.

  4. David Schwarz on said:

    Chad: This message, sad as it is, can be seen as to epitome of the self-serving, self-secure, selfish person’s comment. As such, it should, of course, be ignored. As for what the Church (I assume the Church of all Believers in Christ) has to offer. The message does have hope, joy, love, trust, faith, conscience, character, and the Holy Spirit in it – teaching us all what the Lord God Almighty wants us to know and understand. Jesus came that we might have life and to have it abundantly. Trusting in Him which, as I understand Lutheran doctrine, is itself a gift from Him, is an important aspect of the message of the Church (see John 14:1).

    This sign is flag and a rallying call to us all who are believers in Christ and beckons us to introduce this man to Christ. I may not understand your post and, if that is true, then please correct me.


    • Yes, David, if I understand you correctly, the man on the sign does represent one who needs Christ, as we all do. It is a shame, however, that the church who put up the sign has appealed to such men’s pride to lure them into church.

  5. Jenny Knutson on said:

    To be ‘true’ to the advertising reference, shouldn’t it read “I don’t always go to church, but when I do, I go to ________church”? I’m in agreement with what you’ve said, but as I rephrased the billboard, it even shook me more as I recognize it in the patterns of people’s lives – some from my church, and many from other churches. We’ve grown so casual – we demand God accept us….when we feel like it, how we feel like it.

    • The same thing struck me, Jenny, that they didn’t even get the original ad mimicked rightly. And, yes, we have grown casual. As in every other aspect of our lives, so with church, we as ‘consumers’ expect our every whim to be catered to.

  6. Dennis Schlecht on said:

    Don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read Jonathan Fisk’s “7 Christian Rules That Every Christian Ought To Break As Often As Possible.” I’m think particularly of rule 5, Never follow a rule that has to start over (again and again and) and again. Your sign and your point is made freshly in his point. CPH published.

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