One of my favorite comedians is the Blue Collar comedian named Bill Engvall who does a whole routine called, “Here’s your sign.” By that phrase he means those times when all of us say things which are unnecessary or obvious or just plain stupid. (Example, he tells of a time he was trying to jack up his car to repair a tire, and someone walked by to ask, “Have a flat tire?” He responded, “No, the other three suddenly just over-inflated.”)

Anyway, I like to read church signs. Some of them are humorous, and some are thought-provoking. Here are some recent ones:

  • “Come on in, We are Prayer-conditioned”
  • “Hugging and Non-Hugging Sections Available”
  • “Half as Big, Twice as Righteous” (sign on a small church next to a very large church)
  • “God Does Not Believe in Atheists, Therefore Atheists Do Not Exist”
  • “Forgive Your Enemies – It Messes With Their Heads”
  • ”Free Coffee and Everlasting Life – Membership Here Has Its Privileges”
  • “Don’t Be So Open-Minded Your Brains Fall Out”
  • “WalMart is Not the Only Saving Place”
  • “Artificial Intelligence is No Match for Natural Stupidity”
  • “There Are Some Questions That Can’t Be Answered by Google”
  • “God Responds to Knee-mail”

Most recently I saw a church sign which truly gave me pause. It was on a billboard for a Baptist church in northwest Indiana, and it said: “The UnChanging Church.” I paused to wonder: Isn’t it the Gospel which is unchanging? Or the grace of God? Or the Good News of God’s love for us? But is the church really supposed to be unchanging?

Don’t get me wrong, in many ways I hate change. I am a person of routines, and I don’t like it when my routines get interrupted. I also like new things, especially things which are new and improved. So, I guess what I really don’t like is change when it is caused by someone or something else. I like to change, but I like to be in control of that change. How about you? Do you like it when change is forced upon you?

So, I can understand that church sign. There is a certain appeal, I suppose, to the idea that the church might not change in the midst of all the changes we face in life. But is that really the mission of the church? Does the church really exist just to provide us with a comfortable assurance that there is nothing new? Or is church also a place to challenge us to change, or rather to be changed, by the transforming power of God’s love?

If your church takes seriously the Good News of the Gospel, then here’s your sign: Enter with care. This is a changing station where you may encounter the transforming power of God’s love – and you will never be the same.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner