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Good Design Matters

The Protestant Reformation started in 1517, and 17 years later, Martin Luther had completed the translation of the Old Testament and New Testament into German. This was not only a monumental task, but a work of magnificent design.

The printing industry was in its infancy and much of Luther’s work dominated the development of printing standards and practice. His attention to font face, layout, artwork, woodcuts, and design processes shaped the Reformation and helped develop printing standards.

One of the uniques characteristics of the Luther Bible was the use of illustrations. There were numerous woodcuts that were integrated into the 1534 edition that illustrated Biblical stories and highlight the Theology of the Reformation.

Church Needs Good Design

The Reformation was more effective because of Luthers focused use of good design. The use of good design principals ensured the message was effectively communicated.

One of the challenges facing churches today is the use of design in communicating the Gospel. There is power in a well designed graphic or a well selected font. The use of design has the ability to capture attention and engage an audience. Good design communicates.

Bad design minimizes the importance and value of the message. When we put little effort in following basic design principles, we communicate that the message is not worth reading. Bad design confuses.

Good Design Makes for Good Communication

Our pastors spend hours preparing a sermon and present it with passion. They communicate it with emphasis and energy. They want the audience to respond to the message of the Gospel.

But if we do not put the same level of passion in the design of the graphics for the screens or the layout of the Bulletin, we introduce a distraction. If we do not raise the standard of design for our digital or social media platforms, we risk losing the ability to get the message of the Gospel in front of the lost.

Lessons From Luther

In order to make improvements in our church designs. Here are 3 design lessons you can learn from studying Luther and the Reformation.

Select Good Fonts

Luther collected fonts faces from all over Germany. He would send manuscripts to certain printers because of the font faces they had available. Good font selection is important.

In Wittenberg, Melchior Lotter continued printing Martin Luther’s writings, including the New Testament in German (1522).© Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig

You should limit the number of fonts you select for a given project. In general, 2-3 fonts are ideal. You want fonts that compliment one another. Round and bubbly fonts may be great for a kids event, but would not be appropriate for church letterhead.

You want to take the time to select fonts that help communicate the mood, feel, or personality of the project.

Develop a Visual Hierarchy

A common practice in early printing was to use a single font face for all the copy. There was not distinct difference between the titles, headings, or body of the printed material.

The printing industry was maturing and Luther began using a visual hierarchy in his printed works. There were larger fonts for the headings and smaller fonts for body. This made the content easier to read and visually interesting.

A well designed hierarchy will have variations in size, weight, and color for fonts. These variations will designated titles, headings, or body copy. They help the reader better understand the organization of the content.

Power of the Illustration

One of Luther’s close friends was Lucas Cranach the Elder. He was an artist who worked closely with Luther to illustrate stories and teachings of Reformation Theology. His woodcuts were included in the original printing of the German Bible that Luther translated.

The power of the illustration was not missed by Luther. He used them to highlight his view of the Catholic Church and his opposition to the Pope.

A well design illustration will help communicate the message of the Gospel. It helps highlight the story.

Good Design Matters

The church has a legacy of using good design to communicate the message of the Gospel. We can see how thoughtful design can impact the ability to communicate.

Is your church serious about design?

Are you looking at your churches printed material or illustrations or graphics and asking if it helps or hurts the message?

The role of good design is to enhance worship and remove distractions. This is the purpose what we do and why it matters. Good design communicates. Bad design confuses.

Do Good Design!

Design Revival Conference

The purpose of Design Revival is to inspire and equip churches to use compelling design to communicate the Gospel. We believe that the best way to engage our unsaved community with the Gospel is with compelling design.