JUST AS HE WANTED THEM TO BE: THE ROLE OF GRAPHIC DESIGN IN THE CHURCH

1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 18-23 (NIV)
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work….
18 In fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.

My uncle always told the joke:
“How many Lutherans does it take to change a lightbulb?"
“...change?”

I chuckle when I hear it, but it’s only funny because all too often it’s true. (And not just in my home here in the Lutheran Church.)

Now please don’t get me wrong. The church is already full of, and raising up a generation of, people that joyfully embrace adaptability in communicating the unchanging and true Gospel.

I’ve seen and experienced the truly God-honoring positives of this adaptability. But I have also seen how some areas of serving still require justification as to why they’re important, or should even be used at all. While certain fields are assumed to exist, there is often a resistance to creative fields and their role in the church— specifically; in design.

If you’re thinking, “We don’t want to be one of those churches that lacks substance and only cares about flash. We want the focus to be on Christ alone,” then your heart is in the exact right place. But perhaps your experience and understanding of design and its role and tool to gather God’s people, is not.

Good design is not about flash. It’s not just about making things "look pretty," either. It’s about clear, informative, and engaging communication.

Purposeful design cannot take away from the substance of your church body, or the substance of the Gospel you are preaching. It should only add to and point people towards the beauty that is already there: towards the life-changing, soul-saving truth of God’s Word.
God’s Word and His creation are always beautiful. And the Good News is always good. Therefore, every single way that we communicate the Gospel and invite people close to hear it deserves to be done with intention and care.

To clarify, I’m certainly not trying to belittle anyone else’s ministry or elevate my form of serving above another. And I’m not trying to say that the Holy Spirit stops working if you send a postcard out in comic sans (a designer’s least favorite font) either...

God is sovereign and he will work his will and call his people to his church regardless of how poor the font choices and color schemes are.

That is the beauty of ministry: in his great grace God uses broken people to share his Gospel. He uses our ugly, sinning hearts. And he’ll use our ugly, misinformed design.

But here’s the other amazing thing: He doesn’t need us. He wants us.

Luke 19:37-40 (NIV)
37 the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

 

He could use stones, but he chooses to use human voices and hands to shout His praises. Isn’t that incredible? Our creativity is no coincidence, and it wasn’t made to remain dormant in our hearts or dormant in the church.

So let’s use it.

Because misinformed design misinforms the viewer.
Because inviting someone to an event with an outdated, rushed, or meaningless design represents our God as outdated, rushed, and meaningless, when He is anything but!

And God never called anything just “good enough.” He created masterpiece after masterpiece, and He called them all “good.” So let us not sit back and say “good enough” to something that could be better if we have the resources and willing servants to do it. Let’s trust those he’s placed in the church to visually communicate, to do just that.

Because in all of it, God is the great designer and we are His handiwork (Ephesians 2:10), and he has not stopped creating since Genesis 1.

Creating beauty from ashes.
Creating healing in sickness.
Creating food for thousands out of food for one.
Creating righteous people from sinners.

He is greater than any design trend or color scheme we could imagine. Greater than the sweetest song we sing or the most moving sermon we tell. Anything we create is only an extension of his own beauty and creation within his grand design for eternity, and thanks be to God for that.

Genesis 1:31 (NIV)
    God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

For churches and ministries that don't happen to be blessed with a member gifted (and with enough extra time) to serve in this area, have a lower budget, or are just looking for a few extra resources, here are a few of my favorites:

https://www.churchmotiongraphics.com
A great group that offers monthly subscriptions for motion backgrounds. My church uses many of them as backgrounds for their worship lyrics.

https://unsplash.com
A HUGE archive of free, high quality stock photos to use for social media, background images, and sermon series graphics!

https://www.lightstock.com
An amazing photo and design resource for churches and ministries that offers monthly subscriptions, along with a weekly free photo and graphic.

http://www.sundaysocial.tv
Another subscription program with a growing collection of social media graphics to pull from if you’re looking to amp up your social media game.

http://cssreligion.com
A great collection of Christian-based design and branding, along with links to each designer that is featured. A great way to see what other churches are doing out there with their logos and websites!