Friday, March 2, 2018

Weekly Church Sign Review: “Christian Budweiser”?

Churches can use their signs to tell people about their church, to invite people or to share their message. This is valuable advertising especially if the church is on a busy road, and, yet, all too often churches fail to use their signs to try to draw people in. I'm told I can be too cynical, so I'm going to try to offer some constructive criticism on church signs. While out walking my dog, I've been snapping pictures of church signs as a kind of hobby. Come back to the blog every Friday for my review of a local church sign. I snapped this picture just a couple of days ago...

St. Matthew's Anglican Church sign in Oshawa ON pic by Rev. Ken Symes
Ken Symes rates this sign a 1/2 star out of 5
½ star out of 5 stars

Playing off an 1980s Budweiser beer commercial which sings, “For all you do, this Bud's for you,” St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Oshawa is letting people in their neighbourhood know, “For all you do, this Blood is for you... and a wafer too!” I guess the aim of this sign was to be funny, but making light of that which is most sacred to the church, ie. the blood of Christ, is by definition sacrilegious. Some will rightly take offence at this sign.

I can see that they are trying to be welcoming, saying that the Eucharist (also know as Communion in other churches), the service of remembering the body and blood of Jesus in his sacrifice on the cross, is open to all... that everyone is welcome to eat the bread and drink the wine and remember the suffering and death of Jesus. By adding the Budweiser phrase “For all you do,” this invitation implies that people have earned the right to share in this sacred remembrance. But Jesus dies for us because no one is worthy, all have sinned and fallen short. Recently at a small group Bible study, we saw how Mark's account of the Last Supper (Mark 14:12-26) makes clear that not one of the disciples was worthy to be at the table and that was the point that Jesus was making. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). So all are welcome at the table, at Eucharist or Communion, but no one has earned that opportunity and it is only for those who believe in what Jesus has done for them and trust in him as Lord and Saviour.

Why the ½ star for St. Matthew's Anglican Church sign, the “Christian Budweiser” sign? Because they are trying to be welcoming and friendly with this sign. Unfortunately, it's too churchy for secular people. The humor fails. Theologically it's bad. And it has no specific invite. Usually St. Matthew's does much better with their church sign and I hope they change this one soon.

Previously I've seen on their sign an invitation to something called, “Church from Scratch.” I like the sound of that, like we'll start with the basics ingredients and figure out together how to do “church.” Their website explains:
At St. Matthew's we are trying to do what Jesus calls us too each and every day. We are called to help share and be the Good News of God. We are called to look for and connect to God in everyday life. The trouble is we have too often tried to make people fit out practices on a Sunday morning instead of first listening to you and responding to God that is working there too. We want to create an opportunity to explore your spiritual life on your terms, where you are free to decide for yourself when to stay or when to go deeper. Church from Scratch is one way we can do this.
“Church from Scratch” sounds like a great way to reach out and welcome people in. Put that on the St. Matthew’s Anglican Church sign and I bet they could score 4 or 5 stars ;-)  As I live in the same neighbourhood, I may have to check out this “Church from Scratch.” Hopefully they'll forgive me for rating their “Christian Budweiser” church sign so poorly.

Church from Scratch at St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Oshawa ON

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