All businesses and organizations aim to have great design strategies. Most churches are no different. As church communicators, a lot of our responsibilities center around design. Maybe you design your church’s website, merchandise, or graphics, so understanding the components of good design is essential.
We stumbled upon an intriguing post in our Facebook group about good design in churches, and it spawned some great comments!
“Effective design matters because of the current culture we are trying to reach. Young people in particular (teens, millennials) are extremely visual and are acutely perceptive and aware of good, solid, professional design when they see it. Most of our society in 2018 can easily distinguish between something that is poorly designed/cheesy and something that is well-designed/professional. They can tell when something was created by someone who “gets them” and when it was created by someone who is simply trying too hard. For an unchurched individual, that can be a massive turn-off. Many people will not want to attend a church where it appears that everything is designed by their mothers or grandmothers. This is not to say that they have the proper perspective, but it is a reality of the culture in which we live. Always keep your target audience/demographic in mind and — upon completing a design — ask yourself, ‘Who will this really appeal to and reach?’ If the answer is, ‘Just me and my friends and/or family who already like me anyway,’ then that’s not a good sign and you may want to rethink your design strategy or bring on the assistance of a millennial or outside adult who is gifted in the area of graphic/visual design. The ultimate goal, in the end, is to reach people with the Gospel — the message of Jesus. If your church is going to attempt to accomplish that through the aspect of design, it should indeed be done with excellence and professionalism. Otherwise, what’s the point?” – Josh Givens
“We have the greatest story ever told, the most valuable message in the world. Design is a massive way of communicating that message, or at least getting people to a place/event where they can hear that message.” – Joey Pilgrim
“I think it speaks to your demographic. People rally around trend and design. It will always be this way. It helps them categorize if they think they are like you or not. What you design will never reach all people but it will reach the people that God has portioned as part of your church’s reach.” – Rachel Gurian Wortman
“Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV) ’23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.'” – Rob Forrest
“It’s important because it reaches people in ways other communications may not; it has its place. Sometimes it’s more important than other forms, sometimes it’s not. It’s another tool to reach the world with the Father’s love.” – MaryJo Pouillon
“Effective design creates effective communication. A nice-looking, easily-readable website helps the eye. It keeps attention. It helps rather than hurts. Having a bad design can mean something is too cluttered, unreadable, and makes you unresponsive.” – Rachel Shanower
“Effective design presents needed information in an inspiring way so people will stop long enough to notice what you have to say.” – Ryan Holck
“Form (design) and function (purpose) are codependent. If design doesn’t accommodate and communicate the purpose, the purpose can’t be fulfilled. For anyone who argues differently, ask them how they’d accommodate a baby nursery in a toilet stall, storing cold food in an oven, or enforcing traffic laws with stop signs printed in Times New Roman and nailed to the closest tree. Good design communicates clearly, thoroughly, and consistently. It is the language of the body. It provides a sense of place and proportion. It tells our senses how to relate to what’s happening around us at any given moment. Without proper design, we sense chaos and disorder.” – Stephen Parris
“Bad design is a ‘barrier to entry’ into the church for some people. If communications are unprofessional (typos, difficult to read, bad clip art) then some visitors will use that as an excuse to walk. People generally are more visually sophisticated these days. Our communications need to be up to a certain level or the church loses credibility. That may sound shallow but that’s been my experience working in church communications for almost a decade now.” – Jennifer Kamman Linn
“Our business is not just to sell, but to proclaim! We need to take away any boundary from effectively communicating the Gospel. The method should not minimize or overwhelm the ultimate message!” – David Van de Vliet
“‘On earth as it is in heaven.’ Churches that don’t value design or aesthetic need a theology of beauty. God isn’t a stoic utilitarian. Also, because Gnosticism (spiritual = good, while the physical world = bad or unnecessary) is one of the oldest heresies. We were meant to encounter the holy through all our senses, including our vision when we see art that directs us Godward. Lastly, because artists and designers are made in the image of the Creator, to deny their contribution to the Kingdom is to scorn the gifts God gave them.” – Scott DeLong
“In the Bible, Jesus used parables to communicate with people. He changed the illustration, but never changed the message. He used parables because the people had never heard his message before, but if he could explain it in a way that was familiar to them, they would understand. In the same way today, various media: videos, images, GIFS, audio recordings, etc – are prevalent forms of communication in society. It is something that is understood by *most* everyone. So, when we communicate to unbelievers, we need to be able to speak their language, in order to get His message – the Gospel – to them in a way that is easier to understand (I. E. – media vs. dousing them in old English stanzas from the KJV) and – not only speak their language, but speak it well, or else you’ll lose their attention, much the same way it’s difficult to pay attention to someone speaking a broken form of your language, in an accent, etc.” – Brandon Bass
“Design matters…be mindful of the details, make it excellent, plan everything with the same attention as we give to timing in a worship service, but…don’t forget the most important thing. The only thing hopeless people are coming to church for is this…authentic relational hospitality. Don’t forget the people. We can plan every detail and it can look, smell, and be excellent. But if we miss the people we miss the opportunity to introduce them to Christ.” – David Chase
Good design is important for churches. We want to work as unto the Lord, and that applies to design. The culture we live in is saturated with design, and it is important for us to keep that in mind when trying to reach people. The comments above contain some great design philosophies for church communicators, so get out there and implement them!