In my time as a designer and being a Christian, design and church have gone hand in hand. Ever since I can remember wanting to be a designer I set about making posters, bookmarks, postcards and flyers for the church I was in for all kinds of events.
I remember very well printing so many different designs I’d done that incorporated Bible verse or song lyrics and blue tacking them to my bedroom walls, my wardrobe doors and eventually my sisters wardrobe doors. I used so much ink, which obviously mum and dad weren’t happy about, but I just felt happy designing and wanted to use it to encourage others with verses and quotes of love and hope.
In time I got better and better and some friends started to ask me to design things for them. Eventually I got involved in the youth department of my church and designed posters for all the youth events.
Once I had my hands on a decent computer (aka a MAC) I was able to learn the tricks of the trade and get rapidly better with the more projects and commissioning I had.
Once I got my degree a job was imminent, and it took up most of my time (as all jobs do). But my love for design and church just grew and grew. As I began to charge for my work I was also able to offer free work, of a high level, to churches and charities of people that I knew, and of late, people that I don’t.
Two things that frustrate me the most about being a designer, who creates lovely and wonderful and, most importantly, professional designs for churches, is when, through most often lack of money, churches decide to just slap a word document or a publisher document or a powerpoint document together, using word art and clip art and think this will do for an event promotion in the 21st century.
Ok, I know some of you are screaming at me right now saying, ‘we can’t afford a professional designer’. Wait one second before you blow my head off.
I also get frustrated at christian designers who never, or very rarely, offer their services free of charge to their local church.
I believe that all good things come from God. Design is a good thing. And it is a gift.
What are we meant to do with gifts? Give them away!!!!!!!
Ok. Now all the designers hate me. Just wait, bare with me.
I’m not saying that you should be taken advantage of, believe me I know enough about that, but we should use our gift to bless our churches. Maybe not all the time but when your church puts on a big event, or needs a website, needs help with in-house CD artwork, in-house special events and days, then give them your time and resources to make the promotional material look good. And not just good….make it look AMAZING!
Churches, Leaders….now it’s your turn. Firstly. Don’t think that design doesn’t matter. IT DOES! One of the most powerful tools of engagement to the secular world is design. EVERYTHING is designed, has a design purpose and engages those who interact with it. Whether that is, maybe a poster, flyer, iPhone, Tablet, drinks bottle or food carton. Everything at some point went through a design process…as did you!
Staying on this topic for just one moment, good design and bad design have opposite effects. Good design draws peoples attention but Bad design repels. Bad design is everywhere and sometimes it’s on the outside of a church building.
Leaders; design is important. Design is to people what icing is to cake. It’s what makes it look good and it makes you want it. It won’t always be free and it may not always be cheap, but it will always be worth it.
Our evangelistic events, prayer meetings, special meetings or whatever we do, departments even – everything should be designed WELL! Not all designers are expensive, and just because they are cheap doesn’t make them rubbish.
In my own church, I knew that the attitude towards design was, if it’s not free then we’ll do without. Fair enough. I am in the church, a designer, with my butt on a seat, well using at a piano or drum kit, but I am their to serve the church, and in doing so my design skills can and will be used to make sure that when people come into our building they know what’s going on because all the promotions tell them.
But also, don’t take your advantage of your designers. Remember it’s their job and they work very hard. But they will help you to realise that what takes an amateur a whole day that looks mediocre can be produced in half a day by a professional and look professional.
You were created by a creative God. God gives creative gifts to people. Designers are creative people. Design is important in every aspect of the world, including churches. Take your time today to consider the promotional material you produce, the website you have, the flyers and posters you hand out on the street. If you compared it to a Nike or Pizza Hut flyer how would it match up, but people go to Pizza Hut and they buy things from Nike.
I believe that God can use any tool in our hands to bring people into church, but I also believe that having mediocre design is a not giving God our best. Both designers and leaders in churches.
Let’s give God our best. Designers, submit your gift to God and help your local church. Leaders, dig deep, find a way, get a professional designer involved and make the work you are doing for God look AMAZING!