Why You Should Think Outside The Box With Church Graphic Design

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

Church Graphic Design for Easter services at Sojourn Community Church, by Chris BennettMention “church design” to most people in the graphic design community and you’ll elicit a round of groans and eye-rolling. And with good cause. Churches are famous (or infamous) for using clip art, cliches and badly dated conventions.

I’m thankful at Sojourn that our pastors “get” (and even champion) creative design. I’m thankful that we have fabulous graphic designers like Bryan Todd, Michael Winters, Tyler Deeb and our many volunteer liturgical artists who are part of Sojourn Visual Arts. And I’m thankful for our Media Director Chris Bennett, who (among other things) lays out and designs our Sunday Bulletins and many pieces of art for our Lead Pastor Daniel Montgomery.

This Easter, Chris designed a simple, artistic Invite Card for our Easter Sunday services. You can see the  logo at the top of this post (in our web banner version of the card). I was thrilled to receive the following comment in an email, which was reflective of the feedback we received about the Easter art:

My wife invited one of her co-workers today with the Easter Invite card and her co-worker said: “Wow this is really different than I thought it would look. It looks artistic. I thought there would be a gigantic cross on it or something.” And she meant that in a positive way.

Obviously we have nothing against using the cross in graphic design, having done so many times. But we do try to create art that is “simple and beautiful,” and strays from cliched uses of traditional Christian images. How can your church do so?

The key is for the senior/lead pastor to understand that graphic design is important. Cultivate relationships with visual artists and graphic designers in your community. Let them know that their gifts are wanted and needed in the church. And give them freedom to pitch design ideas that might not be representational, or the “first thing” you think of when it comes to a sermon series, ministry or special day.

Of course many churches are not blessed with having great designers among the membership. You may have to look outside the church, and pay for an independent designer. Even with all our talent, we’ve done this in the past. It is more like paying someone in your city to work on your building’s air conditioner than it is like paying someone to play guitar in your worship band. How?

  • This person is not “up front.” Most of your congregation will never know who designed the art, and whether that person is living for Christ and leading by example.
  • You have even more control of the outcome. While you can approve songs and even arrangements in advance, the song itself will still be led “live” as it happens. Graphic art, though, will be finished before it is made public.

Finally, if you use someone who is not a Christian, this could be a good way to reach them for Christ. They’re giving you permission to communicate truth to them, as you explain the concept you’re trying to get across.

See also Church Graphic Design: Telling the Baptism Story through Visual Art

How does your church think outside the box with graphic design?


Ben Terry April 4, 2012 at 2:23 am

Great post, Bobby.

Some friends started a project for graphic designers who wanted to use their designing gifts to illustrate biblical stories through design. They just launched about 2 weeks ago, and the stuff they are producing is unbelievable.

A lot of Sojourn’s designs could be published on their site.

You can check it out here —> http://oldandnewproject.com/

Bobby Gilles April 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Thanks Ben. Wow — that looks like a great site.

Vance Bennett July 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm

In case anyone is wondering, Chris’s parents are very proud of him.

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