Yard signs printed, “Love First,” are popping up this month around Center, Texas. Rev. Malcolm Monroe of FUCM Center ordered 100 signs for members this February. Already, the signs have been displayed in front of homes and businesses.
Creating signs with a message is not new for Monroe. When he began serving the church in July 2020, he printed two large banners reading, “Join the Joy,” an important focus of his ministry.
One banner was hung on the church and another on the former parsonage. “You had to see it,” Monroe recalled.
After 18 months, the signs were ready to be replaced – and Monroe had learned more about his congregation. He wondered, “What would we want to share with the community? How would we lead the church forward?”
That’s how “Love First” was born. “It’s the greatest commandment,” Monroe said.
We are called to love God with every fiber of our being, the pastor explained. In Mark 12:30, we read, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Then there’s 1 John, “We love because he first loved us,” and 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
“God’s action is love first,” Monroe said. “He created the world in love in Genesis. Then, He loves the world so that He sent His son.”
Spreading a message of love simply made sense to the pastor, especially during a time of such great division. “It seemed like a good way to help the church look at our own behavior,” Monroe said. “It’s also meant to encourage the church to love the church.”
He selected the school colors to keep in the spirit of local pride and designed the logo. Then, members of the church painted a sign. The logo made its debut in the youth float in the Christmas parade.
“It just stands out,” Monroe said. “And it’s easy to read.”
Now, with the yard signs around town, his prayer is that “Love First” can be a guide, as people decide how to respond to others and situations in their lives. “All of our actions and all we do should be based on love,” the pastor said.
Monroe added that our current culture does not always represent the sentiment. “There’s a hard-heartedness these days,” he said. “Let’s replace, ‘Me, first’ with ‘Love First.’”
“Love First” banners have also been placed in front of the church and on church fences identifying FUMC Center as a place of love.
Monroe explained that if members challenge themselves to walk in love, others will see the light of Christ in them. He hopes that FUMC Center will be known as a congregation of people changing the world through the Love of Christ.
He encourages others to join the effort, adding that investing in yard signs is a simple way to start spreading a loving message.
“It is our duty to love first,” Monroe said. “And it begins with us.”