Victory Family Church in Decatur, Texas, has hit the news with a billboard with the words, “I Hate Victory Family Church’, Satan”. The church is lapping up the publicity, enjoying the rise in hits to its web site, www.victoryfamilychurch.net.
Associate pastor Chris Bates said the web site has had more than 1,100 hits since the billboard went up. “That’s huge for a small church like us,” he said. Bates said his church isn’t done yet; the next billboard will read, “Victory Family Church stole my kids – Satan.” “It’s a different take on the God sign,” he said. “We just wanted something that didn’t look churchy.”
USA-wide church network Lifechurch TV runs satanhateslife.com, a web site associated with a billboard campaign for Billboards include the words, “I was robbed at lifechurch.tv”, “Lifechurch.tv is killing me”, and “Lifechurch.tv sucks”.
Cedarcreek, Ohio, one of those churches, provides the explanation:
“Satan wants people to be stuck in a meaningless, frustrated whirlwind with no apparent way out. But he knows better. He knows there is a way out and it’s found in a relationship with God, not in a religion. God is willing to forgive and forget your mistakes. Satan wants you to remain in a guilt-ridden state of mind and will constantly remind you of your miserable performance in life. Don’t fall for Satan’s tricks to get you to give up on and hate life. He hates life and hates you. God loves life and loves YOU! To find out more about God’s love, forgiveness and purpose click here.”
So what do you think? Is this an example of a church network with a sense of humour? Is it likely to get people thinking? I guess it depends on whether people believe in the existence of Satan or not. They do risk encouraging a polarisation in their community, unwittingly (or maybe consciously) inviting persecution and resentment.
How about the explanation of the gospel? Framing good news in the context of Satan’s hold on people is an approach used since the church first began – the Christus Victor approach. However the way this is written comes across like a political dirt campaign. It’s not convincing and paints the advertisers as people who believe in two choices – God or Satan. It assumes a common understanding of Satan.