Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#206 “You are now entering the mission field” signs

missionfield3.jpg89% of evangelical church parking lots contain one of these signs. The signs are never positioned so that you see them while you’re driving into the lot. They’re placed so you can only see them as you’re driving away.

missionfield5.JPGThe implication is that you were not in the mission field while you were on church grounds, but in a cozy bubble away from pesky non-believers and moral miscreants.


missionfield1.jpgSome churches post the sign above the church exit. Maybe they’re reminding you that even the parking lot is a battlefield.

missionfield2.jpgOther churches post the sign on your way out of the sanctuary, maybe as a heads-up that there could be some spiritual warfare in the narthex.


missionfield7.jpgTo my knowledge no one has ever posted one of these signs on the way into a church building, even though a lot of the time you are safer away from a church than inside of it.

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George, American

posted January 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm

This is seriously just pathetic. Incredibly pathetic.

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posted January 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm

My mom put one of these signs up at her church (on the way out of the parking lot) about 10 years ago. I wonder what she would think if I sent her this post.

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posted January 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I sometimes wish they would put a sign up on the way in that says “you are now entering your ministry field”. Perhaps they could use the same sign post.

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posted January 4, 2011 at 9:25 pm

OK this is weird.

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posted January 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

“Warning. All visitors subject to creepy cult-like conversion tactics!”

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Theality Bites

posted January 5, 2011 at 12:35 am

It seems to me that the only practical place to put these signs is in a maternity suite.

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posted January 5, 2011 at 12:47 am

At our church, we used to have a sign over the door, inside, that said, “Servants’ entrance.” We end our Sunday morning with the pastor saying, “The worship has ended, now the service begins.” I think that this has a more Jesus centered tone to it than the signs you are talking about.

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posted January 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

By definition the Church is the “Body of Christ”. When the Body of Christ comes together they are to be encouraged and taught to go out and be salt and light to the world as Jesus was, it’s quite simple. While the sign is not something our Church would necessarily do, the message it conveys to go out and love the world has nothing at all wrong with it.

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Still Breathing

posted January 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Kent, I kind of agree with you but it is rather a case of stating the bleeding obvious. However there are a couple of things that make me worry about these signs. Firstly Jesus told the disciples that they would be know as his disciples because they love one another, that means the mission field actually includes the church and what we do there. Of late I have come across some examples of openly hateful behaviour in churches which are know outside the church thereby destroying any chance of witness. Secondly these signs make it easy to create a them and us mentality when we are all equal before God.

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posted January 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I understand what you are saying Still Breathing. We are equal yes, but different. The Church is, again by defeinition the Body of Christ, a redeemed people. The world is predominantly unredeemed, not usually found in Church, so we have to go out and love them. Now when they do happen to make it into Church, we ought to love them there as well. Unfortunately, what we have in most Churches today is just the opposite. Most are trying to be like the world, imitating it, entertaining them on Sunday morning trying their best to be cooool so everyone will like them and come to Christ. (i.e. Saddleback, Willowcreek, etc.)

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posted January 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm

wow…i grew up in the church and have never, to my knowledge, seen one of these signs (maybe it was up on the balcony and i was never spiritual enough to look up there…). But not surprised. Except how do they know this is in “89%” of churches? I mean, what’s the population sample?
Yes, it’s a pretty goofy “christian-ese” thing….and yes, it’s somewhat based on what Jesus said…and yes, he also said that they would know we are His by how we love EACH OTHER….
We have some problems there.

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posted January 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm

The church I went to in University had one of these signs as you exited the parking lot. I always kind of liked it because it reminded you that the mission field was in your neighbourhood and not somewhere far off in another country where a bunch of tribal people live, speak a foreign language and live in grass huts. I never considered how the wording makes it seem that the church isn’t part of the mission field… thanks for the thought.

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posted January 6, 2011 at 12:28 am

The thing I always liked about the “salt” metaphor is that for salt to be useful or effective (either at preserving or enhancing), it must be comingled. With non-salt. With flesh. And suddenly you have bread and wine and exploding metaphors all over the place. That Jesus. He knew if you kept salt on salt on salt all you’d have is a deer lick. Ick.
The problem with “now entering” means there is a border. And “mission” means that border needs expanding. It means there is a Christian and a Secular, a Sacred and Profane, and lately I’m not so sure Jesus thought there was such a clear distinction as we think there is.
As Still Breathing pointed out, the us-vs-them is exactly what’s wrong with these signs. Am I redeemed? Yes. Am I in need of redemption? Every. Day.
The signs are one of the things that make the Church like the world, not different from it. They appeal to the wrong angel. They mix up the worlds and replace repentence with pride in what should be faith’s very birthplace.

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Still Breathing

posted January 6, 2011 at 6:47 am

Karen, I think you will find that the sample was made up of 734 churches that it was expected would use one of these signs. However you must remember that 91.7% of all statistics are made up on the spur of the moment…

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posted January 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

Ah, yes. This reminds me of that old adage from the 60s, “You must have a mission to be a good Christian.” In my experience the mission field is just as much within the church as outside, and we Christians have just as much to learn from those outside it as we have to give to them. It’s also the attitude that the world is completely lost and only we Christians can save it, we have the complete solution.

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posted January 6, 2011 at 11:16 am

Just so you know, once an individual has been born physically, or born-again spiritually, you can not be un-born. One is not re-born everyday. Maybe our definitions of “redeemed” differ. I’m referring to the one time redemtion that occurs when one is born again, not the on going molding and changing that occurs after salvation.
I have been to different Churches all over the country as well, and have never seen a sign like that.
Still Breathing,
I totally agree with you regarding statistics.

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Still Breathing

posted January 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Kent, But worryingly they can still be right!!

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posted January 7, 2011 at 9:38 am

Still Breathing,
Sometimes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. But many times the reason statistics are made up and/or reported are for promoting a self centered agenda.

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stephanie drury

posted January 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Or as a joke.

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Stephen Charles

posted January 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Years and years ago, when I taught at a Full Gospel Pentecostal church school we had chapel everyday. And the banner in the back on the wall said, “Something, something, something, so we can bring the gospel to the sinners out there.” These things really suggest quite a bit of confusion about what the Reformation meant when it said we are Simul Iustus et Peccator (“At the same time righteous and a sinner”).
I also remember them telling me they bribed their kids with Tootsie Rolls in church on Sunday to get them to raise their hands, etc. I remember wondering what bribes had to do with (alleged) sponteneity.

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posted January 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Don’t you love it when people start a sentence with, “Just so you know” and then say something obvious like, “the sky is blue” or “you can not be un-born.” It is so honest and not at all condescending. The only sad thing about people who communicate in this manner is that they also usually have no sense of humor.

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posted January 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Dear Stephany Dury,
In my web surfing last night I stumbled across this blog. I have been laughing my rear end off since then. I was raised in this mess of a religion (fiercely Evangelical, or Baptist depending on the hour of the service) and have been trying to explain this madness my friends ever since. A precious few understand a quarter of what I’m talking about.
Yeah, the whole thing fell apart at the age 15 when I felt the need to come out.
I think you’ve done more to help me heal in the last 24 hours than anyone in the last 16 years. I would “marry you so hard” if not for the whole gay thing. Keep up the good work.

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Frankie Machine

posted January 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

This is like the sign in the Notre Dame football stadium that says “Play Like A Champion Today.”
I think it’s another example of evangelical culture ripping off Catholics.

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posted January 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Omigosh I completely forgot about these. When I belonged to Christian culture I remember feeling a sense of impassioned purpose when I saw these signs, but underneath that I also felt smug and righteous — I had the ANSWERS, I was SAVED, and it was MY JOB to bring all the DAMNED to church!! (I mean Jesus.)
Kent sounds a lot like a Kent I knew from youth group. Kent, your ideas about salvation and religion et al. are only one perspective. Just so you know. Also, your “once saved, always saved” doctrine (which I used to adhere to) isn’t positively supported by the Bible; like a lot of other systematic theologies built out of various verses, it can only be inferred.
Jeremy, bless you, bless you, and welcome. When I first came across this blog a couple of years ago it was a similar light in a very dark room.

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posted January 11, 2011 at 12:01 am

If these people would only realize that “the mission field” (or “the battlefield,” depending on how macho in faith they feel the need to be) was their own hearts, and they worked and fought on that front within themselves, the world would be a better place and have a more favorable impression of Christians. “It is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come — sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person,” Jesus said (Mark 7:21-23).

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posted January 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Jeremy, Welcome! Join us on facebook. There are daily bits of fun to be had with many folks who understand 100% of what you’re talking about. At last, at long last, you’ve found us! 😉

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posted January 13, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Har! This is fantastic. I remember that sign posted over the exit doorway of church and have many memories of reading it and walking underneath as a child.
I never understood it then and I surely haven’t a better idea of it now that I’m grown! Those who believe this signage are swelling-with-pride of the faith variety. I think the perspective that you are always entering a mission field when leaving the “safety” of the church sanctuary is a major problem; a socially disfunctional perspective that keep believers from finding value in “worldly” relationships and stunts their growth and maturity. I should know because it stunted mine for years! For the first 12 or so years of my adulthood the majority of my friend came from Christian-only groups and institutions. I am thankful to say that now I have balanced that out.
Incidentally I feel happier and more balanced than ever!

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thorn in your side

posted January 23, 2011 at 2:45 am

my x-home church had their mission statement in a mosaic tile on the front enterance lobby that stated “Win-Build-Send” it’s branded in my memory for good.
i think i’ll always struggle with the church “mission field” statements, so military and conforming thoughts. These are mind-controlling mantras that create friction and agression in society, in humanity!
many a friendship have been ruined because of this mentality the church brazens upon the minds of those trying to seek a holy life and style.

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posted June 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I found this site when I was looking to buy a sign like this for our church after seeing one at a friend’s church. I’d be amazed at the hostility expressed, but you can’t beat religion for bringing out the worst in people. I think the signs are a great reminder to the congregation that they aren’t through being Christians (or whatever) just because they’ve left the church. Too many of us are only true to our faiths for an hour or so a week. How we behave says more to people we meet than all the Bible thumping.

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Harold Murphy

posted October 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I like You are now entering YOUR mission field better.

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posted February 24, 2013 at 8:05 am

Yeah. I don’t get what’s supposed to be mockable about the idea that the work of the church — feeding the hungry, helping the poor, etc. — is outside its walls rather than inside.

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posted September 5, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Lynn where did you find the sign?

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