May 20th, 2010
08:56 AM ET

Pastor-iReporter: How I devise my church sign messages

Editor's Note: After Illinois minister Darrel Brandon submitted one of the most popular pictures in CNN's recent church sign iReport solicitation - of the sign in front of the church he pastors - we asked him to write about how he devises messages for his sign..

By Darrel Brandon, Special to CNN

As pastor with the Illinois Clay City Christian Church, one of my responsibilities is changing the message on the sign in front of the church. But it’s more an opportunity than a responsibility. Our building is on Main Street, the busiest street in town, so hundreds of people see my messages on the sign who will never hear my messages from the pulpit.

I put a lot of thought into what goes on that sign, getting ideas from a variety of sources - including thoughts that come to me during sermon preparation. I must keep in mind that I only have room for 20 characters and spaces per line, with a maximum of four lines.

To keep people reading, I change the sign once a week.

We use it to announce special events at the church and I get teased because as soon as a program is over, I change the sign. I don’t want people driving by and reading about an event that has passed. I’ve been caught at midnight changing the sign. Once a deputy stopped because he thought if someone was messing with the sign at that hour it had to be a vandal.

I want to target the audience that does not typically go to church, so I try to post something catchy and avoid religious jargon.

One sign that caught the attention of the local newspaper was the message I put up after Michael Jackson died last year. It read:


The sign that generated the most comments may have been:


My intention was to use a double entendre - to demonstrate a sense of humor and cash in on the fact that many people think sermons are too long. Since I am only 5 feet 6, it seemed to work.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Darrel Brandon.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Houses of worship • Opinion

soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Mary

    @Mr. Thou – the bible also says he breathed life into our lungs. Don't our earthly bodies (shells) eventually turn to dust when we die? You are more than a voice box and a skeleton walking around. You have a soul. Let go of the caricature of what you think being a Christian means. Don't let humans that suck keep you from seeking God. It only takes a mustard seed of faith. If you are willing to believe or consider that humans evolved from a variety of animals then please consider God. True science, not manipulated science designed to prop up models or theories, does point to God or what some scientists refer to as intelligence.

    May 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  2. HayZeus

    I'm the spanish equivalent of your savior, but I am not a zombie!

    May 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  3. MrThou

    @Mary: Oh, and creating the first man from dirt while creating the first woman from a rib doesn't sound like science fiction at all.

    May 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  4. Nunya

    Not religious at all but these were pretty funny.

    May 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  5. billatharbor

    i didnt really read it

    May 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  6. Imbecile

    Jesus is coming...look busy.

    May 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Gee whiz...


      May 20, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
    • Scottie V

      Jesus is coming? I hope he's got a condom!

      May 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  7. Chris

    Thankfully, we've moved on from open religious war in these modern times, and have embraced good old-fashioned ethnic cleansing.

    May 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  8. smalltownmom

    God does not make the bad things happen on earth. The earth belongs to the devil and his minnions. When Jesus does take over here there will be no more wars and pain. Just peace, the peace I leave you is not of this world.

    May 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • Imbecile

      Are you saying when Jesus was here on Earth, he was doing Satan's work, since, you know, this place is his and all?

      May 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • smalltownmom

      Seriously that is what you got out of that???

      May 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
    • Imbecile

      It's actually quite difficult for me to get anything worthwhile out of religious stuff.

      May 20, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • Papagino

      Smalltownwoman – His screen name kind of says it all...

      May 20, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • smalltownmom

      My being from a small town and believing in God makes me ignorant??? I will be happy to be both. Bless you. I least I know mom's are female.

      May 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • Beelzebub

      My apologies, smalltownmom, you mean well, but you only got the first part right.
      When Jesus comes back, I'll give him a job in the mailroom.
      There will be no promise of advancement, though.

      May 20, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  9. Megan

    What I don't understand are all the comments on whether or not God exists. If you don't believe, why did you even read the article?

    May 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • Darrin

      Agreed...why do they even need to respond as well..all they're doing is causing negativity towards others by throwing irrelevant comments on here

      May 20, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Beelzebub

      Sometimes I read the articles for educational purposes and sometimes I read them for their gosh, darn entertainment value.
      Get a grip, Megan, this article isn't about religion, or whether anyone believes in anything particular.
      It's about a short Pastor's sign ideas. Good story too!

      Got it Megan? Good.

      I like the zombie comments. They are relevant.

      May 20, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • Megan

      Did you read my first question? I understand what the article is about. However, many of the comments are with regard to the exsitence of God, which is completely irrelevant. That's fine if you want to read the article, but then why make rude comments? And what was the purpose of the "get a grip" comment? I said nothing rude to anyone, so why do it to me?

      May 20, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  10. greg

    Mike, don't mock what you obviously don't understand... someday your so called intellectual superiority is going to fail you... good thing Christ is forgiving

    May 20, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  11. Brendan


    I can't tell for sure, but I think you just supported my argument.

    May 20, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  12. Kristen

    I have a great idea for how to get people to go to church. First, get Whoopi Goldberg to join your associated convent – for real or as a disguise, it doesn't really matter. Then, put in her charge of the choir and let them do "boogie-woogie on the piano" and small little dance moves. If possible, try to convert everyday secular love songs into religious ones (for example, you can easy replace the word "guy" with "God".) Then rock the joint so hard that even scruffy kids wander in off the street to listen to the concert. It's foolproof! Seriously, though, I always love the churches that put funny messages on their signs – keep up the good work, sir!

    May 20, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  13. barresippin

    i missed where i said i knew everything....my simple point is this- man can not (i dont care how much money and scientific knowledge and tools he has) he can not create simple things such as dirt or water or another human for that matter. all im saying is that (let me speak for my self here) I believe that there is something greater that created our very existence. man did not creat man for the things that man can not create, how did they become?

    May 20, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  14. Willis

    this is my fav one. "Sign broken, message inside"

    May 20, 2010 at 11:55 am |
    • Megan

      Very nice! Love it.

      May 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  15. bklyndamsel

    To lash out means you are not articulate enough to state your opinion. And to the faithful, Let's count all the wars and persecutions that have been brought about because of Religion since the beginning of time. Betcha dont have that many fingers and toes.

    May 20, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  16. moondoggie

    Religious belief is deeply personal and it should be kept that way. To your self. This way, there is no pushing any views on others. I am a believer in God (most of the time) who ALWAYS walks away when anyone begins to share religious ideas with me. I don't want to share mine and I really don't want to hear yours. Works well for me!

    May 20, 2010 at 11:53 am |
    • Bobbie

      Sounds good. So how about we keep all our science beliefs to ourselves, that's personal. How about we keep what we believe about books to ourselves, that's personal. So hey, le'ts just repeal the 5th amendment! Sounds like a great idea!

      May 20, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  17. Papagino

    I think Jesus did like a party. He went where the people were. He surely was a likeable guy and I imagine that He probably loves a good joke.

    May 20, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  18. Aaron

    Roger: Tell me what you know about Darrel Brandon and how he spends his time. You can't, can you? No, I didn't think so. He's my uncle, and you're showing your foolishness by claiming that if he takes a moment or two from his week to make a clever sign that catches the attention of those who might not otherwise attend his church, that must somehow mean that he isn't preaching the gospel inside those doors.

    It's humorless Christians like you who give the entire faith a bad name. Now get off your high horse, lighten up, and hold your tongue unless you have a clue what you're talking about.

    May 20, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  19. Jesus

    Ha! No I don't.

    May 20, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  20. Jason

    You know essentially you believe in other more secular things. I mean people have beliefs whether it is in God or whether they believe in something like their children, money, or their car. Regardless, you make a good point of not condemning people for their beliefs. I am a Christian and I believe that there is a God, without God in my personal life, I would feel a little lost, but I bet there is something I can find in you that does the same thing. Essentially if people would just welcome differences instead of condemning them, the world would be a better place, not if we all just didn't believe.

    May 20, 2010 at 11:50 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.