Church Signs: Tips for Your Primary Exterior Sign

Church Signs: Tips for Your Primary Exterior Sign

June 12, 2013 by

If you’ve ever driven by a church with a clever saying on its marquee, you know how important a sign can be.

  • “Call 911: This Church is On Fire!”
  • “Exercise Daily: Walk with the Lord.”
  • “Exposure to the Son May Prevent Burning.”

All of these signs say different things about their church:

  • “We’re charismatic.”
  • “We’re devoted.”
  • “We believe in hell.”

Or “We like cheesy slogans!” (for more on this rich vein, check out Temptation Bangs Forever: The Worst Church Signs You’ve Ever Seen).

Of course, that’s not nearly everything there is to know, but for the passersby, it’s a good start. And it might be all they need to know before deciding whether or not they’re going to pull into the parking lot some day.

Besides the building itself, a church’s primary sign is its first impression. It’s our first chance to tell the community who we are, what we value, and what we do. It’s also one of our best shots at inviting people to join us. Here are some things to keep in mind when you think about your church’s primary sign:

  • Make it big, but not too big. Consider your sign’s size. You want your sign to be in proportion to your building, fit the surrounding community and be readable from a distance; you want people to see it but not be overwhelmed by it.
  • Place it in your most visible location. Where do the majority of people pass your church either in cars or on foot? Place your sign there for maximum impact.
  • Make sure it fits with the overall look of your church. If your church building is red brick, don’t make your primary sign out of white Austin stone. Ideally, the overall aesthetic look of your church would make sense and be appealing to the eye.
  • Make it durable. Whether your sign is made of brick, stone, marble, or some other sturdy material, you want it to be able to resist the majority of weather conditions. You also want your sign to endure multiple seasons of your church. Either post static information (same service times every week) or make your sign content easily changeable (the sermon title and pastor preaching this Sunday posted on one of those marquees.).
  • Make it clear. Use attractive, easy-to-read fonts on your sign. Don’t overcrowd it with verbiage. Consider lighting it at night.
  • Give information. Take some time to think about what you want passersby to know about your church. What time you worship? A piece of your theology? A word of welcome? Something for more info like a phone number of website? Highlight who your church is and why you think people should come to it. Cover all that but also be brief—people driving by won’t have time to read much (yes, it’s a difficult balance). Also remember that information changes but your sign is likely going to be around for a while. Can you change those worship times if you need to?
  • Marquee or not? You should also decide if you want to the space for those changeable slogans that generate so much attention. While they get the majority of the attention, it’s not always good attention.

Sometimes you only have one chance to advertise. When people go by your church, what are you saying to them?

The book on church visitors: Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time VisitorsMore:

Photo by jon rubin
Post By:

Erin Williams

Erin Williams loves to write for the church and individual Christians within it. She lives in a fun yellow house in Dallas and enjoys family, friendship, working hard, food and wine, fitness, coffee and ranches.
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9 Responses to “Church Signs: Tips for Your Primary Exterior Sign”

  • Joe Porter
    June 14, 2013

    Great article Erin!

    This conversation has come up several times in team meetings at our church. Most “creative” ideas like having someone standing by the road dressed up like Moses holding an arrow sign (true story) puts recognition before quality brand management. Our product/service has much more value than a $5 pizza, so why would we market like Litte Ceasars?

    Gaining recognition at the expense of our brand truly is marketing that sucks.

    Thanks again,

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  • jerry
    June 18, 2013

    When did the word “sucks” become acceptable for Christians to use. No one sent me that memo. Good article by the way, sorry just got distracted for a minute.

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    • Jason McCranie
      June 24, 2013

      My guess is whenever it was put in the dictionary as being a word. Stay hung up on stigmas why don’t we, it’s 2013. I’m honestly surprised you are even visiting this forum with that kind of 1940’s thinking.

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    • Tim
      July 18, 2013


      If you go to “Read this first” at the top of the page and About Us it clearly explains your question.

      Of course it’s not related to the topic you are responding too.


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  • Billy
    June 19, 2013

    Another one I’ve run into with churches which is really a no-brainer, is make sure it’s perpendicular to the street so it’s visible when cars approach. I’ve been to a lot of churches where it’s parallel to the side of building, which looks great if you’re standing in front of it, but next to impossible to read if you’re driving by.

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  • Gary
    July 16, 2013

    One of the best Church signs Ive seen, “Don’t let Christians put you off going to Church”

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  • Dean Deguara
    July 20, 2013

    I would have to disagree with the idea that “besides the building itself, a church’s primary sign is its first impression.” 85% of the people that come to your church will visit your website first! With that said our Church Sign is a BIG UGLY MONSTER and we are trying to figure out whether to start over or try to reface it. I believe your signage does say or not say a lot about you, but I would sink my money into a website before my signage.

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  • Erin Williams
    August 11, 2013

    That’s a good word, Dean. Website can be first impression too ~ I was thinking driving by. Good luck with your signage!

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  • Ryan
    April 11, 2014

    We have a Marquee sign in an excellent location. I hear the criticisms:

    1) Don’t use the sign for internal church business: “Church Cleanup Thursday”

    2) Posting Scripture is expected

    and 3) Cheesy slogans put people off.

    But what should we use the sign for? Surely there are good uses.

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