Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Fight for Your Work

Make the logo bigger.
Use this picture I found on Google.
Make it look like this movie.
Add my picture to it.
Make it pop more.

Every artist has been there. It?s frustrating. It feels demoralizing and disrespectful of your abilities and is an ingredient for tension between you and your pastor. So what do you do with the request that isn?t actually a request and more of art direction from someone who doesn?t understand the elements of design?

Typically, pastors are more analytical than creative minded. This means they think in order. They view the process as a straight line from A to B. They don?t see, or always understand, that you?ve explored a lot of directions to get to the place you landed.

This is why they?ve given their feedback in a way that sounds like an order. It?s how they process things. Just think about Sunday morning. They preach a sermon, tell people to raise their hand (or stand up, or look at them) if they want to respond to the message, and then finish it by saying a prayer. They?re working in the same process when working with the artist. I see this. I want to see this.

Response #1?Find out what they really want.

Their request to make the logo bigger isn?t really about the fact that they think the design feels too heavily weighted towards the imagery you?ve selected. They?re trying to accomplish something by making the logo bigger. Find out what that is.

Try questions?which work much better than statements?like:

?Okay. What are you hoping to accomplish by making it bigger??

?Okay. The reason I have it at that size is because it works well with the other elements that make up this design. But why do you think it should be bigger??

?That is a great picture. Because of copyright we can?t use it but I can certainly explore some other images. What do you like about this one??

Notice the questions start with agreement. Don?t shut them down right away even though that is the natural reaction; think about how it made you feel when their first response was to shut down your design.[quote]You?re not here to create art, you?re here to support and bring artistry to the pastor?s vision.[/quote]

Also remember that you?re not here to create art, you?re here to support and bring artistry to the pastor?s vision. He has spent time in prayer, reading the Word, and researching. He knows the people of the church better than anyone and how to lead them. He knows the tone that he needs to bring for this message. His request to make it more this or less that may be his way of letting you know that you?ve missed the tone he?s trying to set.

Response #2?Listen

Work toward setting the work aside and listen to the request. Look for hidden meaning. Once you?ve asked some questions to understand the feedback, it?s up to you to translate that into the artistry you are creating to fuel his vision.[quote]As artists, it is easy to discount anything a ?non artist? says about what you?ve created.[/quote]

As artists, it is easy to discount anything a ?non artist? says about what you?ve created. They don?t get it. They don?t appreciate aesthetics. The list goes on and on. But they might be right. Again, they know what they are trying to accomplish this weekend better than anyone.

I worked with a church that was preaching on Goliath. The art we created was very strong. And then, The Hulk trailers started to air. Now, this pastor knew that I didn?t copy movies, TV, etc. We had just had a recent conversation about it for an X-Files series they wanted to create that I had to shoot down. But I still received the phone call. As he explained why he wanted to use the Hulk and the parallels within his message, I realized it was the right direction. Now, we didn?t copy The Hulk, but we used it as a clear springboard to something within that genre.

Response #3?Try it Out

Let your pastor know that you?re not sure that?s the right direction, but you?ll give it a try and come back to him. You may come back to let him know that it wasn?t the right direction?maybe even show him and explain to him why it?s not right. Or maybe you?ll eat some humble pie and realize he was right and your original was wrong.

And sometimes your pastor is just plain wrong. Their awesome idea may be wrong, their direction may be way off. But they?re still the boss.[quote]Their awesome idea may be wrong, their direction may be way off. But they?re still the boss.[/quote]

Response #4?Educate them.

Give yourself a pause, and explain why it?s not the right direction. It?s okay, at least it should be, to say no. ?Yeah, I see what you?re trying to do, but what I?ve learned is?? It may be pointing to a newer design direction (flat vs. grunge). It may be educating them on the legality of ripping off a movie title and design. Or it may be asking them to let you lead creatively. I?ve asked before, ?I hear you, but please trust me. This is a really strong direction. Please let me continue in this direction.?

In fact I?m in a season where I?m about to sit down with some of the other pastors at my church to explain that I?m not their enemy. That I want to be their advocate. And I won?t end the conversation with what they can do for me. I?ll end asking, ?What can I do to show you that I believe in you and what you are doing with this ministry??

When the pastor plays art director, I know you just want to tell him to let you do your job. And there may come a point for that conversation. But first, try to work as a team. There are challenging pastors out there, but fighting is just going to bring casualties. I?d much rather have Artist and Preacher than Artist versus Preacher.

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