[Rector]

Church signs

 

For a time Rev. T.C. Hammond was involved in the ministry at St. Barnabas Broadway in downtown Sydney, Australia. He began what he called his "Wayside Pulpit". The messages on his notice board became famous and that ministry has continued ever since. They have constantly changed in style, sometimes improving and sometimes heading toward the dead boring. Many can still remember the time when the pub across the way got into the act. It was the highlight of the week to see who could top who in the striking, interesting, funny, outrageous, cheeky..... stakes.

T.C. was never known to be "plain, nice and boring". And in any case, who would bother reading plain, nice and boring signs? "Jesus is the Answer", "God is Love", "Jesus Saves", "Let the Carpenter of Nazareth Remake you......", are all true, but are about as striking as a white shirt. One of the more notorious signs to appear was "The N.S.W. Government is the best Government money can buy". That was probably close to defamatory. It was true, but only in part. Only a few of the politicians were on the take, so it was a bit harsh. Yet it was striking, to say the least. It made the point.

Christians can be so nice that we never say anything striking. It's all part of the "Jesus loves good little boys and girls" syndrome. If I get angry, or I'm rude, critical, cheeky, a little offensive even, then Jesus won't love me. Particularly if I get humorous, then that's a real problem, because Jesus only loves serious people. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, that's not our Lord. The real Jesus told a perfect stranger that she had been having it off with five blokes, Jn.4:17-18, and smashed up the church fete to make a point. As for being rude, just read what he has to say to nice church going people like you and me in Matthew chapter 23.

The vast mass of humanity who drive past a well placed church "wayside pulpit" are not the type of people who undertake a week of self flagellation if they happen to utter a foul word. They watch real TV. And believe it or not, they are the very people Jesus sought to communicate to. They will only be moved by the cheeky, striking, cutting, humorous, even at times offensive. One church in the U.S. has actually put their outreach in the hands of a secular advertising agency, believing it takes one to know one. One of their adverts ran, "Why not come to church by yourself before six good men carry you in". The caption was under a picture of six pallbearers and a coffin. That's a good start!