FRESNO -- While technology is making it easier to reach more people, some church officials say they prefer to use quaint messages on marquees and sandwich boards to engage the community.
Take the marquee at Harmony Free Will Baptist Church in southeast Fresno, Calif., earlier this month: "Noah was a faithful man. He set sail with 2 termites."
Clever, don't you think?
So who comes up with these words of wisdom? It's not a bunch of stand-up comic wannabes. They're church members who hope a little brevity lightens the load of anyone seeing their words.
"The world is filled with so much pain, destruction and depression, I think the Lord wants us to laugh and smile," said Tex Petersen, who creates the sayings at Harmony Free Will Baptist Church with help from his wife and son.
Churches have long displayed basic information -- service times, church activities and contact information -- in their marquees. The churches adding sayings and using sandwich boards are reaching a wider audience, said Doree Shafrir, an American author and editor at Rolling Stone.
"They're funny and a little bit alien if you're not a regular churchgoer," she wrote in a 2007 article, "Signs from God." "And it's hard to tell whether they're intended primarily to amuse regular congregants, or to attract soul-searching passers-by. Whatever the intent, such signs have certainly gained the notice of the secular world at large."
There are many examples around the community.
The sandwich board of Church of Christ in Oakhurst, Calif., last week read: "Lifeguard on duty ... Ours walks on water."
"We're not as high-tech as some places," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Steve Foster. "There are times a simple message is important for the community to see."
Church of Christ has displayed other clever messages, such as "God has a big eraser" and the church is "Under the same management for 2,000 years."
Church members in charge of the message-writing say they're trying to open doors to the community. They want people to see that churches can have a sense of humor while also being available to meet their needs.
The writers say they can take only so much credit. They tap into websites specifically for church signs and rally family members and friends to helplook for ideas. A book -- Church Signs Across America -- also chronicles sayings. They do follow rules, especially being careful the saying doesn't offend anyone.
Petersen, a truck mechanic, said he searches the internet for ideas, then bounces them off his wife, Renee, and son, Hunter, 13, for good taste.
"They'll always say, 'No, we can't do that one!' " said Petersen, with a laugh. "We make sure no one can bring harm to the church."