Recently, I was sitting and fiddling around with a graphic design program. I’ve never done much graphic design, and I get to work on a team with other guys who are really naturally gifted at design and technology. It’s something that is easy for me to ignore, and on this particular day, I got myself pretty convinced that I would NEVER be able to make and print a basic flyer.
Then chatting with someone about it, I mentioned that as much as I wasn’t enjoying it, I wanted to learn it for down the road when I may not be a part of a team with others who already know graphic design. My friends (well meaning) response? “Who cares about graphic design? That’s not what church is about!”. It made me realize something….
Learning new technology matters, because the way we approach the culture, especially with students, communicates something. Is the point of ministry being able to make a killer event poster? Not even a little bit, but do I think that design matters? Absolutely.
When we plan a Sunday service, we make sure every element is done with excellence. We make sure the instruments are tuned, we make sure the sermon is well-prepared, and we make sure the foyer is clean and the coffee is strong. So why is it that when we look at technology, it is so easy for us to say it doesn’t matter? To consider something like learning to create a poster to hang in the local church for our Easter service as something that is “flashy”?
Perhaps, instead of that, we need to start seeing technology and skills like graphic design as a tool God has given us in order to more effectively reach the people God has called us to reach.
Consider this; with the evolution of how we consume information, how do you find out about a coffee shop or restaurant? If you’re like me, you go straight to their Instagram page. What does it LOOK like? Are the pictures high quality? Are they highlighting different things that matter to me? In our culture, we use social media as one of the the key factors in how we determine the quality and legitimacy of something.
Recent research seems to suggest that 65% of people identify as visual learners, and that children (those 18 and younger) in the U.S. spend an average time on screens that is more than 2 hours every day. That means that everytime we produce and publish something visual that bears the name of the church or ministry we serve in, we are communicating something.
Is it sloppy? Was it put together in five minutes because it doesn’t really matter? Is the image blurry? Is it clear about what it needs to be clear about?
My point is not to say that technology is the most important thing, but rather that technology can help us to communicate the most important things with clarity, with excellence, and in a way that attracts people to a place where we have the opportunity to preach the gospel to as many people as possible.
I don’t love graphic design, and I am not eager to learn it, but I think it matters because in our culture, people learn visually.
So imagine what would happen if we started to think creatively consider ways that we could not just attract people, but also communicate the truths of the Bible and the message of the gospel through new technology in a way that is accessible to a generation that learns through new forms of media. What might happen if we learn to leverage these mediums like social media, graphic design or even more abstract art forms to bring glory to God when we do them in a position of worship to God who has created us and given us the ability to create? What if we stopped looking at these things as a hassle, but instead as an opportunity to preach the gospel, even just a little?
In 1 Corinthians 9:19, Paul writes “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them”. He was willing to do things that weren’t his natural gifting or preference for the purpose of seeing people come to know Christ, even at the cost of his own comfort.
And for what? “for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings”. So let’s graphic design, or clean toilets, or learn to use the printer, or whatever it may be that we’ve avoided based on our own desires, let’s lay it down at the feet of Christ and press on to reach students, even if we have to test a few dozen fonts to do it.