Over the years I have enjoyed looking for church sayings about themselves. You know the kind I'm talking about. The [ ] Church, Your Friendly Church. I have recently come across two that show the extent to which churches can go in thinking they are attracting people to their worshiping community. I am sure they think these will get people's attention and draw them in by the tens.
First, one that has many variations but with basically the same message:
The Church You've Been Looking ForWithout getting overly snarky, snide, or sarcastic, it is tempting to wonder how they know what I am looking for. But in reality they do have a fairly high opinion of themselves. They know that since THEY like who they are, well, everybody else will, too.
The second one has caused me to do some mental gymnastics every time I see it:
We Expect VisitorsAgain, without being too sarcastic, I wonder how they feel when there aren't any visitors?
Both of these sayings, and other variations, are good examples of the hubris, internal visions churches have of themselves. I have been as guilty of this as any pastor. We try to come up with that catchy phrase that will attract people to us. We seek ways to make ourselves stand out from the crowd. Sadly, most of the time there is really little that's different about us that separates us from the rest. Each of us has our own unique place, of course. We are our own mix of people, personalities, theology, worship styles, etc. For the most part we will attract those who are most like us in one or more of those areas.
Church sayings can at best get people to pay attention in passing. But they can just as easily turn people away when our self-centeredness, grandiosity or just plain old ego get in the way.