This is a great community activity that began before we came to Kingsway, but I love it as a way to engage kids in the community. The sign painting at Kingsway is part of a fall festival that takes place around the corner from the church, and is part of a larger outreach effort to get the congregation out into the community. In addition to the usual fun of facepainting, ice cream cones, and a bouncy castle, we have added space for our ministry partners, who run food banks and organize assistance for the community, to set up tables and distribute materials.

The message for the sign has come from different sources over the years. I think it works best as a means of community engagement when the the message has an outward focus like “You Are Loved.” If the wording on the sign is too “churchy” or inwardly directed like a church motto, then I don’t think it connects as well with a community that may not be familiar with insider church language. In those cases, you really have to question just who the sign is for and what its purpose is. Those who do mot belong to a local church, most often see the church establishment as self-centered and more interested in money and membership. So when planning your sign, give special consideration to what it will say and what message will project God’s love.

Our church caretaker is himself an artist and amazing handyman, and constructed the frame and stretched the canvas for the sign. He also outlined the design and letters of the sign’s message in the style of a giant coloring book page. All participants had to do was paint inside the lines to complete the picture. In past years there have been spaces for children to paint their own designs and once children and adults left a finger print to symbolize their presence.

Be sure to provide smocks and wet wipes to keep clothes and hands neat. Especially at events when participants weren’t anticipating a painting activity.

Now, when so many people can not be together physically, is a great time to construct an encouraging sign either as a church for the community or with the community. Use your best judgement, but as an outdoor activity if participants wear masks and maintain distance the activity should be safe. Be sure to wipe down shared paintbrushes between users.