by Paul Proctor
Used with permission.
Churches use shocking billboards to get attention
The Christian Post reports, “a megachurch in Southeast Michigan is making a lot of people uncomfortable with its new billboard campaign that proclaims that the church is for hypocrites, losers and liars.” NorthRidge Church’s pastor, Brad Powell, is quoted in the article, saying:
“As you do ministry, you start realizing there’s a false view outside of the church of what the church is – that it’s [full of] people who think they’re better than anyone else. And there’s a false view inside the church of people outside – that they’re bad… The reality is all human beings are the same. They’re flawed. We’re all the same inside [the church] and outside. We too are failures, losers, … hypocrites.”
So, nobody’s “bad” and nobody’s “better” – but we’re all hypocrites, losers and liars? Is that the NorthRidge message? Sounds like a social justice exercise of dialectic doubletalk designed to redistribute righteousness as needed so nobody is viewed as having any more than anyone else.
Obviously, this billboard campaign is yet another desperate attempt by Christians to try and attract attention, appease sinners and draw crowds through controversy and sensationalism – something the Bible does not teach or encourage believers to engage in. And, I’m convinced, these types of shock ads, borrowed from today’s depraved world of marketed madness, do more spiritual harm than good.
When a preacher who should be focused on God’s Word and calling the lost to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ rents billboard space around town to inform the world that Christians are no different than they are, the question must be asked: “Who then needs Christianity? Why would anyone want give their life to Jesus Christ if doing so made them no better than they were before and no different from anyone else in this fallen world?
Sure, I understand they’re trying to “stir dialogue” by posting controversial comments around their community in hopes visitors will drop by for further discussion; but I don’t think they realize the potential for collateral damage here.
What about all of the passersby who see these billboards day after day, but never make it inside NorthRidge to hear a biblical explanation given for the controversial remarks posted on them? And what about all of the children from NorthRidge and elsewhere who repeatedly read, recall and recite to others, “the church is for hypocrites, losers and liars?” Does the membership there really think these self-inflicted insults won’t, at some point, have a negative effect on their children’s faith and witness to friends and family members of those friends in the community who see the billboards and ask what they mean? The adults might be able to explain them, but how will the kids, who may not be quite as informed and articulate?
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6
BeliefNet.com is reporting on another similar billboard sponsored by Christ Covenant Church in Beaumont, Texas that simply implies, Christians are “jerks.”
Again, is this what we want our children to see and learn as we’re driving them across town? Don’t they get enough of this from the secular media?
If atheists or Muslims put up billboards like this, Christians would be outraged, calling it slanderous, hateful and dangerous. So, why are we doing it for them?
The pastor whose church sponsored the billboard in Beaumont reportedly offered something of an explanation on his church’s website that included the following:
“The church has failed… Our mistakes have led to a lack of credibility. Our messes have caused people to seek answers for this life elsewhere. And really, who could blame people for giving up on the church?… What a bunch of jerks… Prideful, hypocritical, selfish, judgmental jerks.”
Although I would agree that the Church has failed in many ways over the years, calling Christians “jerks” and other derogatory names on billboards around town is not the answer. Sinners are not won to Christ by our over-the-top displays of self-deprecation, but instead by a faithful presentation of the Gospel and a repentance and faith that is sorely needed on both sides of the sanctuary walls.
© 2010 Paul Proctor – All Rights Reserved