5 Ways to Get Design Approval From Your Pastor

5 Ways to Get Design Approval From Your Pastor

April 25, 2016 by

If you’re a graphic designer, you probably frequently find yourself in the revision rabbit hole—uncertain of the direction of your design.

In order to help you avoid this frustrating cycle, here are some tips on getting design approval from your pastor. And it might be simpler than you think.

Let me start off by saying that I have an amazing senior pastor. He is great at finding creative opportunities for me and I really believe that we communicate well.

If you don’t find yourself in that situation, check out this advice on overcoming dysfunctional church communication.

1. Keep Designs Simple

Overwhelming designs are the fastest way for your pastor to shut down a design.

This should be a no-brainer for designers. But often times, we get caught up in making a design look “cool” rather than communicating the proper message.

Overwhelming designs are the fastest way for your pastor to shut down a design. Not to mention, they can take a lot of valuable time to create.

So what exactly does simple mean? For me, a simple design is a limited color palette, minimal text and minimal abstract shapes, all while clearly communicating the message.

If you’re designing series artwork, a simple design understands the premise of the series and keeps the viewer interested in more. Keep your designs simple for quick revision and an easy “yes” from your pastor.

2. Understand Your Pastor’s Style

When you understand your pastor’s style, it makes your style much easier to work with.

Every pastor likely has design elements they like. My pastor prefers vignettes and ugly fonts like Comic Sans (sorry pastor; I still love you). But that’s OK; he trusts me to make appropriate design choices.

Your pastors may like certain colors, shapes, layouts or fonts. Asking about their tastes and getting feedback on previous designs are great ways to understand their style.

On the other hand, your pastors may not have a preference, or may not be able to verbalize it. In that case, come up with some different options and see which version they gravitate toward. Odds are, it has some elements that they will like.

When you understand your pastor’s style, it makes your style much easier to work with.

3. Explain Your Design

Let your pastor know why and how you designed something the way you did.

Let your pastor know why and how you designed something the way you did.

  • Are you trying to work in a new seasonal color to your designs? Say so.
  • Does your abstract design look great with your sweet logo? Let your pastor know.
  • Did you design something with purple because your kids’ ministry requested it that way? You know what to do.

While you don’t always have to spell out design detail, explaining your approach and how it helps communicate the best message will help you in the long run.

Whatever you are designing, let your pastor know why and how you designed it that way. You know there’s a reason, let your pastor know, too.

4. Swallow Your Pride

Sometimes we have to separate ourselves from our “art” in order to better communicate the message.

You are in the position you’re in because you want to help the church. (If not, you should probably spend some serious time in prayer).

As designers, we can easily forget this and make our work about me rather than we. Sometimes we have to separate ourselves from our “art” in order to better communicate the message.

If your pastor turns down a design, don’t take it personal.

In fact, the more your pastor turns something down, the better idea you have about what your pastor doesn’t like. The goal is to communicate the right message.

5. Be Honest With Your Pastor

Communication is key to a healthy relationship and to a great design.

There is a reason that you are the designer and your pastor is not. You either went to school for design or you’ve invested hundreds of hours trying to figure this whole “design thing” out.

Either way, you probably understand how designs work and should look. If your pastor’s request is detrimental to the idea or message that you’re trying to convey, say so (lovingly).

At the end of the day, understand that your pastor still has the final say. Communication is key to a healthy relationship and to a great design that will get approved.

What tips do you have on getting approval from your pastor? Pastors, what makes you approve a design?

Post By:

Kyler Nixon


Kyler is the creative pastor at Crossroads Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and serves other churches in the Midwest by creating sustainable communications and digital media. Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram.
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