Graphic Design Challenge: Communicating Money & Church Tithes & Offerings

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

Sojourn "God Gave" liturgical art display for sermon series on money and giving

Sojourn "God Gave" liturgical art display

A few weeks ago my church Sojourn embarked on a short sermon series on money, generosity and giving. Church leaders know this is one of the biggest communication challenges we have. Frankly, the Bible calls us to give generously because of God’s lavish gifts to us: salvation, right-standing with Him, and a place at the King’s table. Yet churches often either avoid the subject for fear of seeming money hungry, or they preach it in ways that induce guilt-inspired giving rather than giving in thanks and joyfullness.

Rebecca Elliott and I faced this challenge when we wrote Sojourn Music’s modern hymn of offering, “All I Have Is Yours” from the Before The Throne album.

More recently, Sojourn’s pastors taught a sermon series entitled God Gave (check out Sojourn’s God Gave sermon audio here).

We wanted church graphic design that would stimulate interest and cause people to think. Lead Pastor Daniel Montgomery’s pulpit team, of which I am a member, researched and brainstormed ideas for a few weeks. Art Director Michael Winters imagined the winning graphic design concept — dollar bills in the shape of the cross, on the stage backdrop of each Sojourn campus.

Pastor Daniel worried that it might be unnecessarily offensive, but decided that while some might find it offensive, it’s not unnecessarily so. Our culture’s view on money is far from God’s view, so “playing safe” with the God Gave graphic design would undermine our desire to challenge this modern, ungodly view.

Artist’s Statement (Michael Winters)
Web banner version of Sojourn's "God Gave" sermon series artwork, created by Media Director Chris Bennett

Web banner version of "God Gave" artwork, created by Media Director Chris Bennett

This image combines symbols of two gifts we receive from God – life through the work of Jesus on the cross and through his resurrection, and our ‘daily bread’ that usually comes to us as dollars and cents. But this creates a potentially uncomfortable image.

We look at the image of a cross and see grace, while we look at money and see greed.

Placing actual dollar bills on the worship space wall in the shape of a cross intends to reveal the viewer’s desires and prompt the question, “What do I want more – Christ or money?” Hopefully, people want Christ more and the dollar bills won’t be stolen.

Additional insight: We chose to place George Washington’s portrait facing down, as if bowing down in reverence to Christ.

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