I was visiting a city and was looking for a specific place. I stopped and asked if I was near my destination. The individual told me I was close to it. The directions I received were simple: “Go down the street, at the light, make a left, and continue down that road a short distance and you’ll see it; you won’t miss it.” I faithfully followed the directions, and sure enough, there it was. Before I saw the building, I knew I was at the correct location long before reading the letters. I knew I was there because of its branding and its identifiable logo. It was the sign. Signs let us know that we have arrived at the desired location. Signs are more than address holders; signs also serve as landmarks to inform us that we have reached the destination for which we are looking.
Church signs are even more vital. I was the guest preacher at a church. I was given the address and made my way there for the Sabbath service. I drove to the address I was given, and clearly, it was not the church I was looking for, nor any other church. It was a home in a residential neighborhood. I chuckled as I thought of the term “house of worship,” but this was not it either. I began to try to figure out what the mix-up could have been. Perhaps I drove past it, and I kept driving up and down the street and did not see it. Realizing I could not figure out where it was, I made a phone call and discovered I had been given the wrong address. I had actually driven by the church two times and did not know it. There was no landmark to identify I had arrived at the place, no branding, and no identifiable logo to let me know this was the right place. There was no sign to assure me I had arrived.
The Southern Union recognizes the value of a branded and logo identifiable sign, and has a service for that. Signs are important landmarks. They identify the location, display the name, and the recognizable logo. They make it easy for a first-time visitor to see, identify, and know they have arrived.
Signs share another message; they convey to the viewer messages about the experience they will have inside. My wife and I are gastronomes — we love good food, and we seek new restaurants to try. Sometimes when we arrive at a suggested or Google-searched restaurant, we do not get out of the car, but keep driving to look for a different place. Why? The sign, the chipping paint, missing or dangling letters, the trash all around the base gave us a glimpse of what we would find inside, and that was a risk we were not willing to take. Just as we did, people will judge what your church offers and what they will receive based on the sign. They look at the church sign and wonder, is the service as old and lifeless as the sign, will the members welcome them, are the facilities modern and accommodating? So many snap judgments are made based on the church sign. Are your church signs attractive and inviting?
The Church Identification Service offers three sign options: monument, highway directional, and billboard. The Southern Union is invested in each church acquiring church signs, making the process easy. Understanding the challenges of finances and cash flow and a desire to make acquiring a sign affordable, Church Identification Service has a great relationship with a top sign manufacturer. With a 50% deposit, the Church Identification Service orders the sign and contacts the local municipality to begin the permit process. Once the permit is received, an additional 25% is due. When the site visit is complete, the arrangements for installation are made. When the sign is complete, the remaining 25% is due. Once the Church Identification Service receives the sign from the factory and delivers it, it’s installed. Voilá! The church, has a new, branded, logo-identifiable sign. The site provides the information needed to order any of the signs offered.
The pandemic disrupted life and nearly brought the supply chain to a halt. Cargo ships lined up outside the top three U.S. ports: Long Beach, Los Angeles, and New York/New Jersey, accounting for 50% of U.S. shipping traffic. The ocean traffic jam resulted in goods, parts, and supplies slowly reaching their destination. The problem was shipping, but the workforce was severely affected by a shortage of workers. The challenges in the supply chain impeded Southern Union’s Church Identification Service as well.
Reggie Mattison, Southern Union sign engineer, gives an inside perspective. “Over the past two years, sign production has run slightly longer, municipalities are taking longer to process permits, and parts are taking longer to receive,” says Mattison. In the midst of the pandemic and the challenges that came with it, however, 2021 still saw 15 monument signs and eight highway directional signs installed.
The Church Identification Service cares about the appearance of the church sign for this reason. Mattison annually cleans and performs wear and tear maintenance on each sign. In the interim, a how-to video is available to assist the deacons in keeping the sign well maintained. Mattison is available to assist with repairs. In 2021, Mattison provided maintenance service for 170 of the signs across the Southern Union.
Take a look at your church sign. What message does it give? Hopefully, it tells visitors they have arrived at a warm, welcoming place to meet Jesus.
is the associate communication director at the Southern Union.
Southern Union | March 2022