Most people see the front door of your church. They don’t see your church’s interior. They don’t see people of your church. They see what you present to the world. This is obvious… a truism in fact.
So why do we do such a poor job on how we present ourselves to the world around? My suspicion is that the dominant reason is that even though we may SAY that we want strangers in our community to come to our church… the fact is that we typically market for people who are already like us… and probably already are tied to a church.
Let me give you a couple of examples… one from Christianity and one from Islam.
The one above is from a church near where I live. Actually, I have friends who are part of this church. so I am not speaking ill of the church. But the presentation to the community is horrible. What are some problems?
A. The term “World Conquest” is really problematic. Using the war metaphor to the community has no positive message. If you are a Christian and don’t see it that way, consider the next example, the one for Islam. What if it said, instead of “Discover Islam,” the banner said “Islam World Conquest.” Would that be an enticing message? Certainly not for outsiders. (2) The terms “win souls” and “make disciples” are Evangelical jargon that is not informative to non-Christans. The first of those terms is especially problematic. (3) All of the expressions are targeted only to Evangelical Christians. The ones listed above only are meaningful only to Evangelicals, and the AG symbol is only valued by people already in that denomination.
B. The two above are from Discover Islam… a group that is located less than a half kilometer from the above church. The upper image is not much better… But is a modest improvement. The image is not meant to encourage people to visit their center, but rather to visit their website (their electronic front door). Negatively, the top script is in Arabic, since the only people who can read Arabic are Muslims and those that have left Islam, it is odd to put it in the banner— it just emphasizes that it is a foreign, non-Filipino faith. Why do that? The picture of the earth could make people think that Islam is a universal faith or ideology, It could be interpreted by some in terms of world conquest. Of course others see simply the tie-in to the Discovery Channel design aesthetic. The uncertainty of the imagery is not very helpful. On the positive side, the message “Discover Islam” is clearly a positive message unambiguously targeting those outside of their religion. The lower banner is much better. It got rid of the foreign message of the Arabic Script, and the positive, even if hard to read, message that everyone is welcome.
Nothing is perfect. I remember visiting the educational center associated with the Grand Mosque, I saw a plaque prominently placed expressing support from the Muslim Brotherhood. This group has often be known for expressing their faith in a way that non-Muslims would not see enticing. But you will note that this message was inside their center not in a big banner over their front door.
We aren’t perfect either. I like the banner for our church… having an image combining a heart, a cross, and a tree. I find it relevant… But I can’t help but wonder if those outside of the church may find the image confusing.
I guess I better find out.