Jesus Billboard is an Eyesore

January 21, 2008 by

Jesus BillboardThis is fun: A Minnesota newspaper does a story about the city cracking down on “eyesores” and the accompanying front-page photo features a billboard for a local church with “Jesus” in giant letters. The photo was meant to show the various billboards crowding Highway 22 (and it does–you can see six separate billboards in the photo), but more than a few folks took offense to Jesus being described as an eyesore.

So class, a few questions for discussion:

  • Is this billboard an eyesore?
  • Are billboards generally eyesores?
  • Can a billboard be redeemed by Jesus? (Does putting Jesus on an ugly billboard make it less ugly?)
  • How come no one complained about the cropping of the photo which rendered the url as: “www.jesusass”?
  • Could your church’s billboards (or bulletins or web sites or whatever) be labeled as eyesores (whether the medium or the design earns the label)?
  • How would your church respond? (Not sure if Jesus Assembly of God has or will responded, but at least their billboard matches their web site and apparently their building.)
  • How come none of these letters to the editor (save one) address church marketing issues? And what is all their complaining accomplishing? Is that the message of Christ–that we’re easily offended? (As one blogger put it, “Let’s get it straight: Defending the honor of a billboard that says ‘Jesus’ in eight-foot-high letters is more important than, well, gosh, just about anything else.” Ouch.)

More than a few angles here, from a specific church doing marketing to how the Christian community responds. Break into groups and discuss. (link via Eyeteeth)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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18 Responses to “Jesus Billboard is an Eyesore”

  • Randy
    January 21, 2008

    I gotta say that I cannot stand billboards regardless if they are from a religious organization or not. However the media probably cropped the photo and used that specific on purpose just to get a reaction out of people….and look it worked.
    The people who get offended about it just need to get over it. There are so many other things we can be worried about.

  • Josh Read
    January 21, 2008

    No one has said anything about how the editor cropped the photo for the web address to say something too.

  • Nathan Youngman
    January 21, 2008

    “He has no stately form or majesty
    That we should look upon Him,
    Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” – Is 53:2b

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    January 21, 2008

    I suppose I should link to the paper’s apology for those who think they did it intentionally as an anti-Christian message (please).

  • Nick Poole
    January 21, 2008

    Although I don’t think the paper did this maliciously, they had to realize what they were doing. Pertaining to church marketing, though, I think church billboards can be a good thing if they’re designed properly. Putting ‘Jesus’ real big on a billboard doesn’t really accomplish much as far as marketing goes.

  • Jermayn Parker
    January 21, 2008

    The problem with most billboards are that they ARE eye sores! They stick out and have no pleasant way of being shown.
    This example just proves my point! Yuck! However is their graphic designer needs to be sacked..

  • Jay
    January 22, 2008

    It seems to me that the church could figure out some way to respond to this picture in a positive way. Just complaining about how unfair it is, doesn’t accomplish anything. Buy jesusass and direct people to your website, talk about other ways you reach out and try to attract people to your church. Tell about how you impact the community, something that doesn’t make you sound whiny

  • johnny brower
    January 22, 2008

    i think billboards, in general, are eyesores.
    but that particular one isn’t an eyesore. it is pretty much the same marketing scheme as Sprint — yellow background, solid black letters.
    if that billboard is an eyesore, then so is any Sprint advertisement.

  • matthew
    January 22, 2008

    At least they are consistent.
    A huge ugly yellow billboard, ugly yellow Jesus on the front of the church (if website is accurate), and they even have the billboard on their website.
    It is like the obnoxious cars salesman on TV who always say the same thing over and over during all of their 4 million commercials.
    I think that their motto for the church really deserves to be criticized. “A church for people who love Jesus.” Way to reach out to the community. I do not even mean lost people… to me it insinuates that other churches do not love Jesus.

  • Phil
    January 22, 2008

    Just out of interest, does the building cropped out on the left hand side count as an eyesore as well? It looks faintly industrial.

  • jonathan foster
    January 22, 2008

    i think us believers should creatively use what we can to communicate… ‘creatively’ is the key word. i think Jesus was like that but not everyone liked him, that’s for sure. thanks. check out “Jesus was a Viral Marketer” at if you’ve got time.

  • brad
    January 22, 2008

    I’m pretty sure that when Jesus said “…I am lifted up from the Earth,” this is exactly what he had in mind!

  • Dave Jones
    February 16, 2008

    My question is Why not. It todays world we are hit with over 3,000 impressions per day! In the late 1950’s there were only 400 impression per day. Historically, billboards are only good for two things. One, new business. Two Directions “Mcdonalds next exit”. For me the question becomes, are we using are marketing dollars effectively and efficiently. I want to ask the person who place the buy, if they know how many people are driving by versus the cost of the buy. Want to frustrate, ask what the cost per thousand reaching those drivers? Is it effective and a good use the money, lets talk cost per thousand.

  • Linda
    February 16, 2008

    I think it’s hilarious that the photographer’s name (see apology) is “Christman”.

  • Josh
    February 19, 2008

    Obnoxious? Ugly, Elegant, Artistic, Cost per thousand? Here’s the meat; Thought and dialogue was initiated. The mission was accomplished. The bottom Line is that the BB got people thinking about Jesus, and signs, and aesthetics, and consumerism and a host of other topics. Perhaps someone was moved a little closer in their faith journey. I think BB are ugly too but given they do exist we should use the worldly tools available to spread the Good News!

  • Scott Tuersley
    March 3, 2008

    Everyone should check out all the comments and links from this page. The Pastor said it was no big deal, the editor said the guy that took the picture works with his youth group in the church and the yellow and black board is theme that has really seemed to hit the community. the church has a car that is yellow with JESUS real big on the side. Not my cup of tea, but the community seems to be taking notice. The newspaper has done numerous columns on that church.

  • bruce
    March 14, 2008

    People need to get a life and not be such hyper-sensitive namby pamby Christians. This is the type of stuff that turns people off from Christianity.

  • Brenda Lockerman
    May 31, 2011

    I like billboards. They provide helpful information. In addition, when you go on a long trip with kids in the car, they help you play the Alphabet Game. I do like nice looking ones best. I am not a “marketing expert”, but I am an expert on what I like. I like the boldness of this sign. It simply states the answer to everyone’s problems. And the black on yellow is supposed to be the most eye catching color combination. Or that’s what the “marketing experts” say. I think that’s why the road department uses that color combo on a lot of their signs.

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