Christine Christophersen used to be a graphic designer for a megachurch in Omaha, Nebraska. Now, she’s the art director for Pro Media, a feature of Proclaim Church Presentation Software, and she equips churches with relevant, high-quality church media.
Having worked with a large team of church staff and volunteers for three- and-a-half years, Christine has a lot of insight into how each component of the service comes together to present a single, unified message—and how to balance your desire for good design with the need to work together as the body of Christ.
Designing church services as a team
“When I would design a sermon series,” Christine says, “I was working with a team of people. The pastors were coming up with what the series was about, and I was turning that into a sermon series graphic—used in the bulletin, the screens, and promotional materials.” Her role as designer meant that she was producing the graphics that represented the series.
But there are other pieces of design, and they all have to fit with that graphic (and ultimately, the sermon series). “I would work with volunteers to implement that in the set design, the worship screen graphics, and the lighting.”
While Christine has valuable expertise that applies to each piece of the design, her role wasn’t to control everything. “If I hold on so tightly to how I see my design being implemented that it ruins relationships and I don’t work well with the volunteers that are helping with that, it’s not a win.”
Making things look good isn’t good enough. Displaying grace starts from the inside-out, not the outside-in.
“I played one piece in a bigger story,” she says. “A lot of the moving parts are people, not concepts.”
Christine explained how at times, coordinating the various elements of the service created unique design challenges. If she created a stage design, she had to consider how the lighting (which she wasn’t planning) would affect its final appearance. But she doesn’t believe that means a designer should take the reins of every visual aspect of the service.
“I don’t see designers as the rule-keepers of design,” she says. “I want that light person to be able to express themselves creatively.”
Staying on the same page
Using your church team’s collective creativity requires everyone to be on the same page.
“It takes good communication,” Christine says. “Each person has to see the part they play in the bigger whole—how can what I do help communicate our message?” It doesn’t work if people isolate their contribution to the service. “It’s going beyond ‘this is my area.'”
The more you can see how your area overlaps and interacts with others, the more clear your service will be.
“It’s easy to think of someone interacting with your one piece of the puzzle,” Christine says. “It’s easy to forget that they’re actually interacting with everybody’s piece of the puzzle all within the span of an hour and a half. If your piece speaks louder than someone else’s visually, then maybe that’s what someone walks away remembering—when really the hope would have been for them to walk away with the pastor’s big idea.”
This is where being part of a team becomes either beautiful or frustrating.
“It’s easy for the pastor to say, ‘This is what the message is going to be this Christmas,’ then the designer produces something and says, ‘Here, worship team.’ But that isn’t a good picture of collaboration. Bring everyone to the table,” Christine says.
Invite your team to discover the best solutions together.
“How are we all interpreting the pastor’s message?” Christine asks. “What’s the best way to execute that in all our different areas?”
“If the series is about communion, you might have songs about preparing our hearts and Christ’s work on the cross. If it’s about the ancient context of a book of the Bible, maybe it’s helpful that the stage design helps you place yourself there,” Christine says. “All these little things are reinforcing the idea your pastor wants to communicate.”
So how do you make design a team effort?
“It’s great if there’s someone passionate about design that’s on staff or would volunteer to help manage those different teams and bring alignment,” Christine says.
This person isn’t necessarily determining the direction, but once everyone involved has agreed on a general direction, this person is essentially following up to make sure the individual pieces fit with the big picture your team has agreed on.
“That’s really helpful so that the pastor can focus on their part: the message. And then the designer can ensure that every visual element supports and reinforces their message.”
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Christine and her team of designers produce complete sets of slides and motions for your church to use through Proclaim Church Presentation Software. No more sifting through stock photos or hunting for free media.
Get access to 10,000+ motions and stills with a free 30-day trial of Proclaim.