"The Social Network of the South"
There's a small Baptist church near my house. I pass by it at least once a day when I'm out running errands or coming and going. It has one of those official-looking brick signs with four or five lines of space where you can arrange plastic letters to spell out different messages.
A few weeks ago, it read "Leon Russell: He is 97!" The next time I noticed it, the sign said "Happy Birthday Pearl Jones. The Big 91." This past Sunday, it proclaimed "Happy Welcome Back Bob Day!"
While the most recent messages have been more personal and specific, sometimes the sign shares general advice or words of wisdom. Things such as "If you like Baskin Robbins, you'll love our Sundays" and other mildly amusing sentiments.
There's another church with a similar sign in my small hometown, although its messages are a bit more in your face. My dad will often text me to report what that church's sign says. The most recent was something along the lines of "getting enough Son-shine" and being "souler" powered.
Apparently lots of folks notice these signs because lots of churches use them to try and spread their messages. There are even books and websites devoted to creating a record of church signs and church sign sayings. I don't have data to prove it, but I'd be willing to bet this practice of church signs started in the south.
I started thinking about how connected we are with social media. If I want somebody to know what's on my mind, I just share a status update on Facebook or compose a Tweet on Twitter. But before social media was a thing, how did we stay connected with each other? Written letters, carefully planned phone dates, and face-to-face time together often fall by the wayside.
I wonder if there will be a day when church signs as we know them are obsolete? There are already lots of churches with fancy digital signs. Will we ever miss the days of being told "7 Days without Prayer makes one Weak" on a church sign?