Controversial “We Hate Church” Billboard Design

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On Saturday, I had the pleasure of going to the UK’s annual Christian-based GrapeVine Celebration. Bishop Tony Miller of the Cathedral Church in Oklahoma City was there preaching in the evening. At one point, he talked on the desperation in getting his Church noticed by the media. He felt that many people who lived around the Church thought that it was boring and irrelevant.

After trying to get peoples’ attention in the past, he boldly attempted some shock-tactics—and needless to say it worked:

we hate church tony miller image

The Cathedral Church in Oklahoma City says they’re glad folks are taking notice as they try to challenge the mindset of a new generation of churchgoers. Bishop Tony Miller said, “I know there’s a shock factor especially to religious people & some may think we were being offensive. Our desire isn’t to offend anybody, but to do what it did – to say what it is about church that upset or offends you.” Bishop Tony Miller says he said it in a sermon and the church marketing department devised a plan to get peoples’ attention… And ultimately get them in church doors to change their minds.

Miller said, “We’ll take the risk in order to awaken people to the thoughts of something different is possible. It’s not about a building, a Sunday morning. It’s about people encountering the heart of God.” Taken from KFOR News

Apparently, after the billboard design was erected and shown to the public, four separate news channels were contacting the Church about the controversial nature of the project for an interview.

What do you think of this design? Do you agree with the notion of using such tactics to advertise Church? I’d like to read your comments on the matter below…

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11 thoughts on “Controversial “We Hate Church” Billboard Design”

  1. Jeff Maystruck

    From a marketing stand point and a “used-to-be” avid church goer I think this is great, the longest running stereotype is that church is boring and people hate going. Taking an unconventional approach would sell me on this church. Why can’t church be fun and cater to the younger generation? It’s going have to change eventually if they want to keep their numbers up. If I met Bishop Tony Miller I’d shake his hand and support his church, I think he gets it.
    .-= Jeff Maystruck´s last blog .. =-.

  2. CreativeNotice

    Wow, so Christians should sell out to marketing to prove that Jesus isn’t lame? I’ve been a follower of Christ for 20 years now, and this is a constant bewilderment I face… Why do Christians think they have to make Christ relevant when He already is and they should just stop getting in His way?

    Do I don’t think so. The reason people, especially the younger generation don’t attend church or even have a general positive view of Christianity is because of “Christians”. It’s now a common adage to hear someone say, “Never do business with Christians, you’ll get screwed.” Or, “why go to church, I get drama at work all week.”

    Problem is the un-authenticity of people who act like jerks all week, then dress up and put on an aire of enlightenment Sunday morning and look down their noses at everyone they pass on the drive to church.

    Check out UN-Christian, absolutely an amazing book about just this topic. It will blow your mind. Give it to your pastor and watch it blow him a way. lol
    .-= CreativeNotice´s last blog ..Using Flash Pro Encoder 8 on Vista =-.

  3. Andrew Kelsall

    @Jeff → I can see your point there. After all, when Paul visited Athens (in Acts), he used something from their culture to reach them (the statue to “an unknown god”). I wonder, though, if this is on the same lines…using a shock-tactic from the secular culture of advertising?

    @CreativeNotice → I see your point too, and I wonder what Jesus would say if Tony Miller was to show it to Him face-to-face. I have also a niggle on the design..we hate church means “we hate the church people” in effect. I’ve checked out the link, looks interesting.

    Thanks both of you for your insights…

  4. Matt Reed

    I don’t know about churches in the UK, but it bothers me when a church has gotten to the point where it has a marketing department. In my opinion, the church should’ve split and started another church before reaching that size. In their defense, I don’t know the size of this church, nor am I saying they can’t do great things at that size, it’s just one of the first things I picked up on.

    It looks like the church is doing what it can to reach out using all forms of media, they have a dynamic website, they do a podcast, they tried a billboard. I can’t fault them for trying to use these tools effectively. A common response in America is “I like Jesus, but I don’t like the church.” And I think this is trying to address that.
    .-= Matt Reed´s last blog ..5 Ways the iPad Is Going To Rock the World of Design and Art =-.

  5. pixelsaint

    Yeah i agree with Matt, it’s sad that congregations should go that far to get people to make a turn at the local meeting on sundays.I believe the Spirit will draw people to where He is allowed to work and if the leaders hearts and lives are totally sold out for God. But being a LOUD CHILD i like Bishop Tony’s idea. Love to get peoples attention for God, not that He cant…

  6. Anton Fowler

    I wonder how many people who have conveyed thoughts on this actually know Bishop isTony. He has a heart for people and that is why this works. Whilst you guys are tweeting your feelings about this subject, he is sitting under a subway with a homeless guy, he will have just bought that guy a coffee and he will now be chatting about the billboard. The billboard was merely his entre. It was his invite, his calling card, his bunch of flowers, whatever. It is a foot in the door, something to TALK about. See that word, TALK. The church can use any form if advertising and it should do so. We live in a world dominated by media, the average 18 year old had seen 7 million messages of direct communication so our message better not be lame! The problem is this: We live in a world dominated by McDonalds. It is so vast it has a name. McDonaldisation. It means that we can pick or choose in bite size chunks instantly with little or no direct consequence. Advertising in churches largely buys into this concept. We want a quick fix, we expect a quick result and we demand a quick response. Our advertising should be a handshake, it should say, Hi, my name is ……… And I’m thrilled to meet you. If it is never attached to a smiling, willing, Christ filled face, then we will always fail, the remnants will be that we then take to commenting on other peoples ‘handshakes’ I’ll informed and grossly uneducated as to what else they have put in place to make the medium work. Jesus communicated in the most elaborate ways and I think he would be interested in what Tony has done. I think he would be more interested in do they have enough water in the kettle to sit and chat it through over a brew…

  7. Andrew Kelsall

    @Matt → Yes, a major problem is that many think that most Christians are hypocrites; in some cases, their right.

    @Pixelsaint → I saw Tony preach last year at Grapevine here in the UK. He’s certainly a load man (and I say this in a good sense). This billboard fits his personality perfectly 🙂

    @Anton → “McDonaldisation” – that’s a word I haven’t heard before! Thanks for the advertising overview. I agree, the Billboard IS like a great start to decent conversation about God and Jesus. I hope it did its job…

  8. Anton Fowler

    I believe it did. Tonynwill have wanted this to open conversation, not become the byproduct if Twitter. The media is an amazing tool which I use daily, but remember that to be effective WE still need to communicate. If we can sow Jesus as well as we show Jesus, we will not go wrong. Xx

  9. Anton Fowler

    Think of design as the ‘elevator pitch’. This is where you getva minute orbso to sell your message. After that, it is relationship!!!!! NO advert, brochure, slogan or logo will achieve that. Tony spends evenings talking to real people about Jesus. What are we doing? X

  10. Andrew Kelsall

    @Anton → I like the slogan “If we can sow Jesus as well as we show Jesus”!

    Yeah, Tony sounds like a genuine person with a heart for Christ…

  11. Crookes

    Yeh, I think that’s a good advert.

    As a Christian who is not a huge fan of church services (may I say, especially not Cathedral ones), it would attract me.