Picture this: you just hit snooze for the third time on a Monday morning. You sleepily fumble around your bedside table to find your smartphone and your familiar morning routine begins.
As you scroll mindlessly through your feed, your thumb does a double-take. You think, “wow, that’s an incredible photo.”
The truth is, even if we didn’t go to school for 8 years for graphic design, photography, or art, most people know a good design when they see one. The evidence of a gorgeous design is usually marked by our willingness to stop and gaze in awe. Just like seeing a breathtaking sunset on the beach, something all you can do is stop and take it all in.
Design captivates us. It can fill us with wonder and appreciation for its beauty. It has an uncanny ability to evoke emotions in its viewers and uniquely touch their hearts.
Throughout the centuries past, artists have used design to depict Biblical events and Christian imagery which have been heralded some of the best pieces of all time. Think of the great Michaelangelo’s statue David or The Creation of Adam painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Consider the beauty of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper or Raphael’s Transfiguration.
But what does the artwork from the past have to do with our modern graphic design? These pieces of artwork are prime examples of the power of design and how it can influence not only the individual but an entire society. Our design, whether it be through photography, videography, or purely graphics, has the potential to reach people far beyond our imagination.
Design is one of the most important methods the church can leverage to reach people and authentically engage them. Design is where digital engagement begins.
High-quality design is not something your church or organization can merely stumble into. It is a creative process (with the ultimate goal of yielding engagement) that involves three major components: recognizing your audience, speaking to the current culture, and understanding trends with an eye for innovation.
First things first: who are you designing for?
Are you designing for those already involved in the church or those outside? Are you designing for an urban or a rural crowd? Younger people or older people? You may even be trying to reach a combination of many different groups of people, but the main idea is to at least recognize the people you desire to reach.
Once you have recognized your target audience, everything you design should be created with those particular people in mind. The most important question to consider when creating is this: does this design have a heart for our audience?
Designing with a heart for the audience means caring about their needs and listening to what Jesus wants to speak to them. If we choose to mindlessly design without any consideration for the people who will be viewing it, we are missing a huge opportunity to minister to people and show them who Jesus is.
We must always remember that engagement is not about numbers and statistics. It is about real people who need to know the love of God and experience a transformed life.
Design can shift the ways our culture thinks while simultaneously speaking directly into the issues and conversations that occur in our world. It is not some entity that is completely removed from our culture — design actually allows us to be intentional in speaking the language of culture. Mainly, it exists to speak to a culture that needs Jesus whether they know it or not. And without good design in our content, people will never join the discussion.
If we want to see a new level of engagement where people begin to participate and discover who Jesus is, we must be mindful of the quality of our design and the message we are trying to drive home. If our design is just subpar with zero intentionality behind it, it won’t spur anyone to action. It will just blend in with the endless feed of videos, graphics, and photos and have a very minimal impact.
But the good news is that our design can have a monumental impact when we are mindful of the culture and the things our target audience cares about. Before you even begin designing, consider what is happening in the world around you. Are you willing to speak to the situations we are currently facing? Are you willing to pause your regularly scheduled programming for the sake of reaching out and speaking into the plights of our society?
This is just another example of being in the world but not being of the world. We can still speak to the language of culture without being overtaken by secular ideals and beliefs. We can care about our followers and the social issues in our society and still exalt the name of Jesus.
When you have considered your target audience and the language of culture, now is time to execute designs that will capture the attention of your followers and spur them on to the next level of engagement. This may be the hardest hurdle to overcome as you encourage engagement in your digital presence.
Good design is easy to recognize, but it may not be as easy to develop yourself. A great place to start in understanding what design work your community needs is by seeing what is currently trending in church design. Take some time to find a church like yours on Instagram or Facebook and glean some wisdom from what they are doing. There is no shame in being inspired by another church’s design and strategies, especially if they are doing well with their engagement!
You should even take some time to discover current trends in the general design world, not just specifically in churches. This is especially true if you are trying to reach a primarily unchurched crowd.
From this place, you can work towards developing your church’s brand aesthetic or your content’s visual look or appearance. Your aesthetic will build a sense of consistency for your followers and make your church or organization easily recognizable. Your design will be directly connected to your church and will encourage people to the higher levels of engagement where they will participate in the discussion and even take steps to get involved outside of just the digital realm.
Throughout this process of gleaning insight from other churches and organizations, innovation should still be a huge priority. If you want to truly stand out from the crowd and encourage people to engage in your content, you have to be quick to do things no one else is doing. Innovation keeps our designs and ideas fresh and keeps people engaged in the message we are sharing. When we value innovation, we will constantly be keeping our follows on the edge of their seats wondering what we will do next.
You may not know where to begin when it comes to good design, period. Our team at Pro MediaFire works tirelessly to understand current trends in design and can work with you to develop incredible graphics, videos, and even a website to encourage digital engagement for your church.
The harsh truth is that without good design, engagement will be stifled. People won't view your videos or look at your posts, and therefore there will be no comments, likes, or shares. Bad design can uproot the possibility of engagement before it even has a chance to be planted. That is why it is so vital for us to invest time, effort, and resources into our design work in order for it to have the most meaningful impact.
Quality design is the first key in starting a conversation that will hopefully lead to deeper levels of engagement where people go beyond passively consuming and move on to true involvement. Not only does it stop the scroll and demand attention, but it also encourages people to dig a little deeper beyond just the design and actually discover the Gracious God the design exists to honor!
Come back soon to read more about the next level of engagement: discussion.
This is where your followers graduate from merely viewing your content to actively engaging through likes, comments, shares, and more!
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