3 Examples How Unique Weekly Art Makes A Sermon More Compelling


In my work as a church Creative Director, I am part of teams that design and produce several sermon series every year. These sermon series are some of the most important communication a pastor or church leader can do with a congregation.

Sermon series themes are the most seen, (hopefully) understood, and talked about concepts in the entire life of the church. When done right, they become vehicles to cast vision, change hearts and lives, grow disciples, and advance the kingdom of God.

They deserve the top level and very best of our creative effort.

One aspect of the creative development process for sermon series is art design. Many churches that preach in series create a single image for the duration of the series, which is often six-eight weeks. In my view, not only does a single image get boring to look at for that long, but using a single image is a missed opportunity to engage people more effectively with your core message.

Instead, my approach is to give each series a family of unique images, one per week, all related to a common theme. I describe it to people as the weekly work of art. The images are used to advertise the series; they adorn the bulletin cover; they are what appear on the sanctuary screens during worship; and they become identifying images for content sharing purposes.

Here are three examples of unique weekly art in a common family, all from my tenure at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

The Story

Concept

This was a teaching series based on a book and curriculum by Max Lucado and Randee Frazee that aims to teach the biblical narrative as a single overarching story of God and God’s people – a story of estrangement and reconciliation.

Art Direction

I love working with talented artists and the banter and exchanges that come from hashing out art for series concepts. In this series, I gave creative direction largely by phone, based on some core art that the resource had already created. We visualized making the biblical story come to life through page-based art.

  • Art direction / animation: Chase Franklin
  • Design: Bert Neal

Weekly Themes

Here’s the list of weeks we created, visualized in the images below. (I also like to write short descriptions of approximately 50 words for each week but since this post is about images I’m not including them, because the post is too long already.)

  1. Overall series image
  2. Creation | Genesis 1:1, 26-27
  3. Trust | Genesis 16:12; 17:15-22
  4. Suffering | Genesis 37:18-28
  5. Rescue | Exodus 3: 11-15
  6. Wilderness | Exodus 32:11
  7. Boldness | Judges 6: 7-16
  8. Gratitude | II Samuel 7:1-7
  9. Pleasure | Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
  10. Collapse | Isaiah 37
  11. Hope | Nehemiah 1:1-11

Final Images

  • The Story

The Beginning

Concept

This study of the creation stories of Genesis was positioned as a way to parallel the beginning of a new year with the beginning of everything – and the implications the latter has for the former.

Art Direction

  • Art direction and design: Bert Neal

Here is the initial notes on art I wrote for the creative brief, with some comp art to help set the mood.

The obvious is to use the Earth from space shot, but if we do it, we need to find a twist or new angle on it so it’s not the same thing we’ve been seeing our whole lives.

Color palette midnight blues and purples.
I don’t want to get too crazy. Needs to be primarily photographic.

I like the idea of a strong baseline horizon on this link. The challenge here is orientation. Are we standing on earth looking at the cosmos or do we want people to be looking at the Earth?

On the Gravity image, ignore the astronaut and the debris. The huge earth shot is interesting, maybe not as a series shot but just on the creation itself. The light burst could be like God’s finger, touching and creating the planet.

On The Earth image, the “fight club” style call outs are nice, and could fit with the overlay from the first one. We could use this treatment to highlight scripture about creation or sermontitles or general factoids about the size of the planet and the cosmos, to communicate the majesty of God’s creation.

One more thought is the blue glow around The Cars movie poster, not necessarily the way they did it here but the idea of enhancing the earth shot a bit with some photo treatment.

In our final visual concept, we decided to marry together several theological concepts into one visual family by starting as cosmically wide as possible and gradually zoom in with each image until we end up with people.

Weekly Themes

Here’s the list of weeks we created, visualized in the images below:

  1. Overall series background image (*we used the first week as the series image on this one; this is a background version which we used for text on-screen in worship)
  2. In the Beginning… God!
 | Genesis 1:1-5
  3. God’s Good Earth
 | Genesis 1
  4. Made for Each Other | Genesis 2
  5. The Story of Our Broken World | 
Genesis 3
  6. Sabbath: A Space for Grace
  7. Men Behaving Badly
 | Genesis 4:1-16

Final Images

Great Nights of the Bible

Concept

This study uses the common hook of a night setting to study several biblical texts. I wrote this description for the series:

Sometimes a night is just the end of a day. But sometimes, it’s more: night can bring darkness and loss, or relief and peace. Nights are when we stop moving and consider life. The story of God’s people is full of great nights, when conflict peaks, when people explore big questions, when lives are lost and won.

Art Direction

  • Art direction and design: Bert Neal

We’d recently done the creation series above, so I was initially hesitant to go with dark, cool hues, but as Bert and I discussed possibilities we realized that it simply made sense to represent these stories as illustrations or scene-setters to help put people experientially into the narratives for the purposes of hearing and learning from the story.

Weekly Themes

Here’s the list of weeks we created, visualized in the images below:

  1. Wrestling in the Dark | Genesis 32:22-32
  2. The Night of the Lions
 | Daniel 6:16-28
  3. The Fleece in the Night | Judges 6:36-46
  4. Singing in the Dark | 
Acts 16:25-34
  5. Glory in the Night | John 13:21-31

Final Images

What do you think about the pros and cons of weekly art design for worship?

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).

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