I get it. There’s nothing new under the sun. While I think the church can be one of the most creative places, we’ve been guilty of overusing some spiritual images: from the literal to the literary; from the earthly to the heavenly; lambs, doves, fire, trees, grapes, angels, light—oh my. When bulletins and MS Paint were created, we started associating fire logos with youth ministry. Consequently we watered these natural and supernatural visuals down by using them way too liberally.
There is nothing inherently wrong with these images, whether they are used in logos, sermon series branding, websites, etc. They are beautiful depictions that God uses to teach us about him and his creation. But are we giving them the thought and creativity they deserve? And do we really believe a church logo with a lighthouse in landlocked Tennessee is going to draw people in? By overusing such images, we are losing what makes them beautiful and forgetting it’s the equivalent of speaking Christianese and expecting the world to know what we mean.
It’s time to combat overused imagery in the church:
When dealing with logos, what’s in your community that you can use in ways no one else can? Does it encompass the personality of your church and community?
When dealing with sermon series artwork, what’s the main idea of the Bible passage and how does it relate today? What current trends lend themselves to retelling ancient stories?
Don’t Go Green
Trees and flowers aren’t the only things that grow and don’t have to be the only things that represent growth. Science lends itself to plenty of things that grow and multiply. Start there. Another direction would be to think of how and where does growth happens.
You’re a church. There’s no reason to hide it by not using sacred visuals. Sometimes a simple image, like a cross, speaks volumes. But make it current, make it beautiful. Use it in a way that’s new.
One way to get away from the standard imagery is to think of something different. Consider that Bible passage from a new angle and look for different ways to approach it. It’s OK to get weird. You need to come up with something that hasn’t been done before, and that might start out weird.
One of the reasons this imagery is so overused in the church is because sometimes we’re lazy. We go with the first metaphor that comes to mind. We don’t take the time to think more. Come up with a ton of ideas and don’t go with the first one.
What are your biggest church imagery pet peeves and how do you overcome them?
More: Check out the rest of our Design Basics series.