I saw the sign again last week. It’s almost like clockwork. Just about this time of year each summer, when the temperature gets hot and church secretaries get lazy, you can expect to see what has to be one of the corniest church marquee signs you’ll ever read:
“Our church is prayer conditioned.”
Well, bless their hearts. At least it didn’t say, “You think it’s hot here…” (I saw that one again a few weeks back too.)
Ed Stetzer writes a good blog, usually insightful and challenging to those in ministry, and on occasion he features church signs he has come across. Some are poignant, many are funny, a few downright strange. And often, he’ll feature one that just doesn’t come out right.
A few years ago, Stetzer offered up a photo of a church sign for a Methodist congregation somewhere. I’m sure they meant well, but they sure didn’t think through what they were trying to communicate. The sign said:
“We love hurting people.”
Now for those who are a little slow on the uptake and didn’t immediately get the joke, there are two possible meanings in that simple statement. The one that was certainly intended by whoever put the sign up was that the church loves people who are hurting and is there to be the kind and compassionate body of Christ for a hurting world. At least I hope that’s what they were saying. But maybe there’s a better way of saying it.
Because the other meaning, hanging on a participle, is that, we love hurting people.
It would be funnier if we didn’t all know how true that sign has turned out to be in more than a few churches. I’m sure there were more than a few wounded passers-by who read that sign and said, “Yes, you sure do.”
It’s more than semantics; there’s a big difference between the two possible meanings. Those in our communities who are reading our signs–not just on our billboards but also in how we conduct ourselves as friends and neighbors–are wondering which truth our churches stands for.
My hope and prayer for our faith family at Shelby Crossings is that we would be the kind of church that regularly reaches out to our neighbors who are hurting, to share the unconditional love of Christ and the life-changing power of the gospel. May we be like Jesus, who loved hurting people, so much so that He died for them. There’s never a doubt about what that means.
I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.