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. mark

    The United States is not a Christian Nation. Be a free thinker, beware of christian dogma. Join us at the Freedom From Religion Foundation http://WWW.ffrf.org

    May 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm |

    JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  3. JT

    These signs are so corny and so FunDUHmentalist Christian. If I were Christian and belonged to a church that had one I would terribly embarrassed.

    May 20, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  4. sarah

    This Pastor is very creative and seems to care a lot for his parishioners. And if he does what Jesus did, teaching love and peace in the pulpit, he will fulfill what is required of him as a shepherd.

    And oh yes, I believe that the Bible is God's Word, 100%, written by men enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

    May 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  5. tom

    @bob well i don't believe in trees. and since i don't believe that they exist, they obviously do not.

    your logic, not mine.

    also i don't believe in terrorists. maybe that will make them go away. if i just cover my eyes and pretend.....

    May 20, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  6. Sadie Boyd

    The Bible is like no other literary work in the existence of the world (at least that I know of). It, as a whole, was written by many different people over hundreds of years. Not only does it contradict itself, it warns people against what it is saying... Prophecies that were made in the Old Testament, like in the book of Isaiah, told exactly how, for example, Christ's crucifixion was to occur. When you read about the Crucifixion from the perspective of one of Christ's disciples, you know he is repeating what was oral history for centuries in many different belief systems.

    And in general, the big bang theory or any other theory is stupid, because we all really know that we don't know, we just don't want any one else to know that we don't know, on the off chance that they know something we do not know.

    May 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  7. Formwork

    And, as an answer to your specific question.... One of the bad things that could happen is that I actually start to believe the hateful, vile crap that many religions spew. At that point, then, I'd probably have to follow suit and start fighting wars, attacking people, hating people, and violating children (mentally and physically). I'd rather be a decent person, and know that my life had a positive impact on those around me, instead of a profoundly negative one. That's just my opinion, though. You're mileage may vary.

    May 20, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  8. smalltownmom

    God wants a relationship with His children. Religion is a human word we over use.

    May 20, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  9. Mar

    Look what religion has done to people...everyone chill out. You have totally lost the purpose of this article. This is not a subject that people should be attacking each other over, whether you believe in "God" or not. Walk away.....wwjd? right?

    May 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  10. Vern

    My Lord and Savior loved me enough to die on the cross. I trust God to guide my path as it says in Proverbs 3: 5-7. Peace be with you all.

    May 20, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  11. smalltownmom

    I never presume I know what God's plan is for any of us, and how He decides who makes it to Heaven. I am thankful that God makes those choices, and so I make no judgements of others and their eternal after earth life. I have my after earth life plan, I believe Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

    May 20, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  12. JDH3

    WOW! Someone has watched to many re-runs of Devils Advocate.

    May 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  13. Raven

    Jesus is my Wingman

    May 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  14. Steve

    @Joe Hmm...you may be right. Babies can grow up and be evil and strangle you in your sleep. Maybe some people get abortions because of that. I've heard crazier things, like it doesn't matter what anyone else believes...haha.

    May 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  15. Papagino

    Actually, they are one and the same and if you really want to get into some deep thinking, there is a third entity, the Holy Spirit. So accept one, accept all. Any hand with God is a good hand...

    May 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  16. JDH3

    One more comment on science. Just because it is "proven" doesn't make it right. Science told us Pluto was a planet for 50 years. OPPS. I revert back to my earlier statement.... what happens if science prove GOD does exist? Where will you be then?

    May 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  17. Imbecile

    How presumptuous and arrogant of you to think I need, or want, your prayers.

    May 20, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  18. JDH3

    Dreadlock Mike – I spent over 30 years making the exact same argument and while I disagree now I certainly respect your opinion and can relate to your words. My father died when I was only 8 and I turned against "believing". I spent a lot of my life making all the same statements you made. 3 years ago my life was in crisis and I found the only peace I got was re-thinking my belief in some sort of supreme creator. I can't say if it is true or not but I can say without doubt or shame that the comfort I get from believing beats the hell out of the alternative. As it has been said many times in this thread - If a believer turns out to be wrong nothing is lost. In the end you don't need to prove anything to anyone other than yourself, and GOD if you choose to believe in him/her/it. I'm simply trying to keep the odds in my favor just in case.

    May 20, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  19. Elvenmaid

    People can believe in whatever they want to believe in. I'm not religious, but I really thought the pastor's sign was pretty funny, which is what caught my attention about this article. I applaud him for having a sense of humor. Some people take religion way too litterally and seriously and that's what completely turns me off from it all. I think your beliefs should be between you and your god and shouldn't be pushed on anyone else who doesn't want to about it. If Christian's God is really all that mighty and powerful, he should be able to contact me directly. I don't need a meager human trying to pressure me to BELIEVE in him. jeez.

    May 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • gary duits

      Favorite saying of a nonbeliever,,,,O MY GOD!

      May 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  20. Cindy Brehm

    I just love a church with a sense of humor. I'm pretty sure god has one 🙂

    May 20, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
    • Imbecile

      Oh, yeah. The bible is chock full of jokes.

      May 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
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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.