Over the years and around the country, looking at church ads in the Yellow Pages has given us a sad picture of the state of the church... and a few laughs. Here are the basic categories of church ads we have noticed, and a few spoof examples that are only a bit more absurd than actual. After getting the gist of the various categories, open up your Yellow Pages to see if the shoe fits.
The Church PictureThis is telling about the focus of the church. If it is an actual photo, be prepared to hear lots of "give till it hurts" sermons to pay the mortgage through faithful tithing. Worse still, if it is a drawing with the word "future" under it, expect all the sermons to wrap back around to the point of making generous contributions to the building fund.
The Pastor PictureHere we have a mug shot of the pastor. Typically, and oddly enough, the picture is not even appealing. An improvement is a picture of the pastor and his wife (or vice-versa), which conveys co-ministry. If kids are shown in the pastor's vanity shot, the focus will be on families and singles might want to try elsewhere.
The Social ClubThe idea here is to appeal to a niche market overtly. While ostensibly a "church", the real rallying point is some fleshly, social consideration--similar to secular social clubs. You will see ads appealing to prospects who are single, or divorced, or gay, or whatever. Most typical are appeals to marital status, ethnicity, or age.
Eph 2:11-16 (DVP) Gentiles in the flesh... have been brought near and made one with the Jews. Christ has broken down the middle wall of ethnic apartheid... creating in Himself one new man out of all races... thereby putting to death all carnal segregation.
Col 3:11 (NIV) ...No Greek or Jew... but Christ is all, and is in all.
2Co 5:16 (NIV) Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh.
SIN SANCTION CATHEDRALHome of Popular Singing Groups:
- Sloppy Agape
Cheap Grace(Jude 1:4)
Come feel spiritual with our awesome praise team without the need for repentance or holiness!
Meat Market Chapel
Don't like smoky single's bars?
Our church is THE place to meet other singles who are pretending to be Christians until they get married.
Featuring Dr. Polycarp Ichthus
Special boat parking with extra long pull-through spaces for your SUV and boat trailer.
The Country ClubThis ad will proudly display a list of amenities the church offers. These are meant to sell you on creature comforts, in return for your regular giving and patronage.
Verse SelectionThese are the best sort of ads in general, although they tend towards milk instead of meat. Occasionally the name of the church is taken from a scriptural word or phrase, even in Greek! But more often the verse is added in italics after the church's name. Don't expect to find verses like "Repent or parish" (pun intended) in this style, but rather cloying sweetness and religious phraseology extraordinaire. In contrast, here is an ad we'd like to see.
THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING DEAD Gal 5:24 (NIV) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Rom 6:11 (LB) So look upon your old sin nature as dead and unresponsive to sin...
2Cor 4:10 (NIV) We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
The BylineNearly every church seems to think they need not only a name, but a byline. So we have: First Fellowship - The Church that Cares, or Relevant Teaching, or With Pastor Pete. We find it fun to invert these to show how banal the differentiation asserted is: The Church that Could Care Less, or Irrelevant Teaching, or We Got Rid of Pastor Pete.
Old Wineskin Reformed Church
...Where You Fit In
Hokey Religious Clip ArtMany of the churches listed in the Yellow Pages--were you to visit them--have top-notch sound systems, lighting systems to rival a Las Vegas show, and multi-thousand dollar signage. So what's up with the low-budget "praying hands" clip-art, or "cross with extended shadow" pasted in? From such otherwise slick churches, how do these ads get past quality control?
Agape Seeker Tabernacle
A denominational church
- Alexander the Media-worker
- Easter Service Overproduction Blowout
- Weekly Laser Light Show
- Thespian Gospel Troupe Performances
The Vague NameCoffee shop? Dept store? Nickname for a sports personality or team?
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