Bumper Sticker Theology Can Be a Dead End - Word&Way

Bumper Sticker Theology Can Be a Dead End

religious billboard

What can I tell you about the love of Jesus Christ and the wonders of a faith-filled life in less time than it takes you to read this sentence?

Ken Satterfield

Ken Satterfield

In a Relevant magazine article, Jake Morrow addresses billboard evangelism. 99designs estimates that a driver has between 5-10 seconds to read and digest a message (tinyurl.com/0619MAF-2), and Morrow observes that religious messages that are often seenthisquickly address a non-church audience using church language  (tinyurl.com/0619MAF-1).

Discover the bread of life or you’re toast.

In addition to being confusing, threatening people with everlasting torment may not actually motivate them to darken a church’s doorway, much less open the Bible.

Stop, drop, and roll doesn’t work in hell. 

religious billboard

Alabama billboard that was on Interstate 65 north of Prattville by William “Bill” Newell, who died in 2009. The sign was damaged in a storm in 2016 and erected in a different location. Wikimedia Commons

But you don’t have to rent a billboard to communicate. Consider your vehicle’s bumper and rear window. Community Christian Church, Outside of Chicago, had a sermon series on bumper sticker theology, asking “Is it Biblically sound or just sound Biblical?” about some of our pet phrases (tinyurl.com/0619MAF-3).

God is My Co-Pilot.

Moses discovered that the area near the burning bush was holy ground in Exodus 3. I consider the spaces on our van where I can share my viewpoint to be equally sacred. (Though, I do drive with my shoes on.) So, what’s worth displaying?

I have heard many stories about drivers who forgot they were sporting a Honk if you love Jesus message and react, um, unexpectedly. On the other hand, I will toot my own horn with a sticker if a family member invested several years to earn a diploma at a school, or if it is an organization or team I am passionate about (even the hard-luck Orioles).

Once I was behind a church bus that said Follow us – we’re following Jesus.  Yes, I did speed up and pass them, discovering that evidently Jesus was driving a white convertible.

My child is an honor student. Maybe. My child can beat up your honor student. No.

Messages that makes me laugh out loud are fun, but if it is at the expense of a person or group, I’d prefer to pass. And I’m never sure what to do with “in loving memory” decals on vehicles; they aren’t exactly a conversation starter.

I also don’t want to start a conversation about campaigns and ballot issues, neither of which will mean much out of context in six months.

Yes on Prop 2.

The same things could be said about your t-shirt collection.  People that are passing you either on the road or the street have a few seconds to form that first impression, let alone from our social media posts. Why make a controversial topic my first impression?

Proverbs 15:13 says Happiness makes you smile; sorrow can crush you. Similarly Numbers 6:25 says May the Lord be kind and gracious to you. If you want to communicate the joy of the Lord rather than a poke in the eye, let’s share a word that will delight and leave your readers wanting more.


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Ken Satterfield is a former media specialist and current marketing coordinator for Word&Way.