I’ve always been aware of design and the impact it has on people’s perceptions. The more I’ve grown in my design abilities and understanding the more prevalent this notion has become. This past week I have been on a work placement at a design studio in London, and whilst going about my work each day I seem to have developed a more heightened sense of what design can do.
At the beginning of every design brief the first thing the designer does is question what the aim of the project is. What, ultimately, he has to do is determine what the design must do, how people should perceive the product and how the design should work to achieve that. It’s almost like generating a theme sentence for an essay or small group study, and similarly it should be referred to regularly through out the whole design process. This constant “appraisal” of the work in progress should eventually lead to the desired perceptions of the viewer.
Whilst this approach is prevalent in the commercial world, it can often be lacking in places like the church. I believe this occurs for two reasons. The first being a lack of understanding from the church and the second being that most commercial organisations have a professional designer. These two issues, could infact be seen as one. Most churches don’t take on a professional designer because they don’t understand the need. The primary aim of the church is to bring people closer to God, to introduce them to Jesus and this is the perception of the church, generally. The problem for me occurs in the manner in which churches go about publicising events or even in their outward facing image.
Now, take the most common piece of published material in a church, the weekly notice sheet. I’d wager in the majority of churches (at least in the UK), it’s done by someone who is proficient at using Office and can churn it out hassle free. For most intense and purposes it does the job, the church members know what’s going on and when. But what about the view from an outsider, someone who is new to the church and doesn’t know how things work. To them, I’d guess, it would look sloppy and unprofessional. But my question is, would it make them want to consider what the speaker for the day has to say about God? If the news sheet is sloppy full of lots of different miss-matched fonts and sizes, would it make them consider what’s being said at the front. If a church can’t put enough effort into making the news sheet work well then is what has to be said at the front worth listening too?
My point being that, whilst for many people this kind of thing is not important, it is incredibly important that the church does consider design on even the most simplest of things. Even the design or even non-design of the news sheet can make an impact on people’s perceptions of the church and what it stands for. I’m not saying that design makes the gospel more relevant, but it can help to make it more accessible.