You can tell a lot about a product from its packaging. Apple’s simple white product boxes radiate a promise of cool technology inside. Hormel’s old-style blue cans remind you that the slippery cold meat inside still lives up to its name of Spam.

I’ve found you can tell a lot about a church from its packaging as well. How a church chooses to depict itself in print and on the web often tells you a lot about its approach to ministry.

Just for fun, I cruised the websites of churches I know in my area and around the country. What I found was a close tie between cosmetic imaging and ministry values. What the churches pictured on their websites tended to reflect what’s most important to them. Not in every case. But in most.

So, here’s a quick analysis of my findings. I’ll group the prominent web images under general ministry value headings.

The church is on the stage. Prominent images: preachers preaching, singers, guitars.

The church is the building. Prominent images: church buildings, church interiors, church signs.

The church is the same. Prominent images: stained glass, solemn pew-sitters.

The church is the distributor of accurate data. Prominent images: none—just words.

The church is cool. Prominent images: trendy graphics, jeans.

The church is the Body of Christ—people. Prominent images: people in various settings.

It’s really interesting to see what churches choose to prominently display. One website featured the smiling face of the church custodian. I think I’d like that church.