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Monday, October 14, 2013

Billboard Beliefs

I admire well designed billboards. The means of communicating a very brief, yet powerful message to a commuter whizzing along at 70 miles an hour is true advertising art. 
Often, I play my own game of billboard critic … attempting to get the message while driving, but often failing to do so. Too many words. Blurring graphics. Poor color choices. Weak messaging.  Small print. Unfortunately, it’s bad form ... and a waste of money.
Three Christian Post stories of billboards trying to send a religious message have surfaced recently. One promotes a campaign known as "Jesus Tattoo."  Fifty-nine billboards near Lubbock, Texas, depict an image of Jesus clad in tattoos with the words “addicted” and “depressed” along with other negative word pictures. (
The intended message is to convey Jesus loves people unconditionally. Jesus becomes the tattoo artist to help. The group has a website and video to help advance their perspective. Well, it certainly gets attention.
Then, the ministry Answers in Genesis has posted billboards in New York City and San Francisco challenging atheists with this message: Thank God You’re Wrong. They even sponsored a digital spectacular in Times Square displaying the message. Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, is seeking to respond to atheist billboards being posted in a number of places. (
Not to be outdone, atheists in Michigan have their own billboards. The message?  “Millions of Americans are living happily without religion.” That apparently is to help us overcome negative stereotypes of non-religious people. (
Frankly, those billboards would have no impact on me. I already know atheists can function somewhat happily without a religious faith. I know Jesus's love is unconditional. And I already believe that atheists are wrong in their view that there is no God.
Personally, I think billboards that work connect with ideas like … "McArches … all size drinks. $1."  Or … "Sleep well tonight at Red Roof Inn. Just $49." One life-altering billboard I’ve seen simply asks if you’re pregnant and need help. They give a web site and phone number. Good job!
In my earlier years, I developed advertising concepts for clients. I would advise them not to use billboards if something needed to be explained. And you’d better be able to read the critical piece of the message from a quarter mile away. And here’s the key: meet a need in the simplest of terms.
Communicating our faith needs careful attention as well, regardless of medium. Jesus managed to teach the most important life lessons in short stories. And the impact lasted for mile after life-changing mile. My advice … Go thou and do likewise.
That’s the way WE communicate. For Moody radio, I’m Mark Elfstrand.   

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