Churches spread their message with marquees

Posted Friday, Oct. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Church sign websites • Sayings for Church Signs, • 10 church signs that make people cringe,¬oc=1

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Most folks who zip east or west on Interstate 30 near downtown Fort Worth wouldn’t know Burnie Hernes from Adam.

But a bunch of them read what he writes as they pass the towering marquee next to a church house that may have the steepest roof in town.

“People have told us that the verses speak to them,” said Hernes, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1800 West Freeway. “God uses that to encourage people or draw them closer to him.”

Marquees aren’t part of every church’s outreach by a long shot. Driving around Tarrant County looking for the changeable signs, the Star-Telegram found them at fewer than half the churches we passed, and most had content aimed solely at members and visitors — service and Bible study times, announcements, etc.

Member-oriented content was what Peace Lutheran Church had in mind when it built a digital marquee on the front lawn between the two parking lots of its campus at 941 Bedford-Euless Road in Hurst, said Walt Waiser, senior pastor. Unfortunately, members seldom look at the sign.

“If they come from the west, they pull into the west parking lot and don’t look at it,” Waiser said. “And if they come from the east, they pull into the east lot.”

But people Waiser knows outside the church told him that the sign encourages them. A recent message is an example: “Generosity is contagious behavior — practice some.”

“You can define generosity either as a sharing of your money or yourself,” Waiser said. “I put that message up there and it related to the sermon.”

A cryptic message on the marquee at Concordia Lutheran — “Buzz words: Conservative” — related to one in a series of sermons, Pastor Mark Lasch said. As with many of the messages he puts on the sign at 3705 Harwood Road in Bedford, it was designed to make passers-by curious enough to visit.

“For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at words in society designed to get a reaction,” Lasch said. “The first word we looked at was Christian. The second was liberal and the third was conservative.”

The point of the buzzwords sermons was that human nature makes us quick to categorize, slow to listen, very uncharitable and “off track of what Jesus said about how we should love one another,” Lasch said.

Finding words that successfully reach out to people is also rewarding. The father-son team that changes the marquee at United Memorial Christian Church in Euless loves to hear people react.

“You have to put something up there that people can catch fast, something thought-provoking as soon as you see it,” said Rolland Mozingo, who comes up with new messages about every other month. His son, Matthew, spells them out on the marquee at 1401 N. Main St.

Humor also attracts Mozingo, as in the recent “Why didn’t Noah just swat his 2 mosquitoes?”

Mozingo said he usually finds the lines in inspirational calendars and booklets or on websites.

Websites like Sayings for Church Signs have dozens of suggestions.

Sites like United Methodist Communications: 10 church signs that make people cringe are cautionary and intended to help marquee writers avoid blunders.

There’s even Church Sign Maker, which lets people play with messages on various computer-generated marquees.

No matter the source, the overwhelming point of all marquees is likely what Waiser explained about Peace Lutheran’s.

“We unapologetically believe everyone needs Jesus,” Waiser said.

The message that replaced the one about generosity also likely sums up all the others: “Jesus welcomes everyone.”

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620 Twitter: @fwstevans

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