The signs around Folsom, Calif., said "Church Sucks," but the man who put them up said the message behind them is more complex than it seems.
"It's just inflammatory enough to get attention and yet we have something to say," Stu Streeter, the man who put them up, told ABC affiliate KXTV in Sacramento.
Streeter is the pastor of Disciples Church, a small storefront in a strip mall, and he said the signs and a newspaper ad campaign that carried the same message were created for people who don't go to church.
"This campaign for us is just a simple way to call out the elephant in the room and say, 'Hey, maybe you don't go to church because you'll think you'll be an outsider or you think power will be abused," Streeter said. "Well, it doesn't have to be that way."
In all he put up 200 of the signs around the city, and some he put on trailers that he drove around to get the message out.
The signs advertised the church's website, which makes the pastor's perhaps irreverent reverence a bit more clear.
"Church Sucks, sometimes. But we're not content with that," the website says. "Jesus didn't suck, and neither should His church. And you're invited to help!"
But it was a message that was met with anger by many of the city's residents.
"Most of the signs were pulled down by angry neighbors and some from city officials and others from people who just didn't understand," Streeter said.
Beverly Dillard, a Folsom resident, said when she was confused when she saw one of the signs on the Disciples Church storefront, assuming it was the work of vandals, not the preacher.
"I don't know why somebody would put that on the front of their church," she told KXTV. "It just doesn't look right. I thought it was done by somebody that doesn't believe."
"When I saw that sign I thought, 'Are these people against churches?'" Dillard said.
For others, though, the signs made them curious about what the real message was.
Beverly Boss, a Jehovah Witness, told KXTV that after seeing the signs she went to the ChurchSucks.net website, then went to meet Streeter himself.
"It's good to help people start questioning and think about whether they really living their life like Jesus taught or not," she said.
Streeter planned to start giving sermons related to the "Church Sucks" campaign today, and said he hoped to see many new faces in his congregation. He said he'll wear jeans and sneakers, like his congregations, and hoped that people will see how his friendly congregation is learning to follow Jesus.
"If it works then Jesus rocks," Boss said.