Anne Locker
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Senior Thesis for Xavier University

Growing up Catholic and attending Mass every Sunday, I was never emotionally affected by the church and what is was supposed to make me feel or believe. I never felt a real connection to the music or the traditions, and had trouble understanding the gospel. It wasn’t until my family started attending a Christian, non-denominational church that my outlook on the church and faith were radically changed.

At the Christian church we started attending, the service typically included worship music, a practical teaching message from the pastor, and closing song. This was all accompanied by lights, video, and audio and executed at an unmatched quality of production. My instant take-away from this church experience was that leaders in Christian mega-churches were embracing 21st-Century culture to help them influence how they plan their church services because they value church being culturally relevant to attract un-churched people. Additionally, people are using their God-given talents to produce a creative, fresh, and engaging atmosphere in the church.

Over the past four years, I have interned and done freelance design work with a handful of churches and the question I always ask is, “How can we match the quality of our promotional and marketing content to the quality of our Sunday services?” In these four years I have found that Christian churches were creating radical Sunday experiences while their digital and print platforms failed in comparison. It’s almost as if for years these churches were so focused on executing high quality Sunday church services with high quality production they failed to realize just how much marketing and design plays a major role in attracting engagement and attendees.

The Season is a college ministry based in Atlanta, GA that thrives through creativity. This ministry realizes that in order to get college students through their door and into seats, they need to look the part to separate themselves from other churches and keep their students engaged wanting to come back. The Pop-Up Shop showcases what Christian churches should and could look like from the outside looking in. At The Season it is accepted and encouraged to lean into design culture while being a faith-based operation.

On average, Americans are exposed to 6,000 advertisements a day, and it only takes eight seconds for a message to be absorbed and understood. If churches are going to compete with those numbers, and don’t want their messages to be lost in the fog, then the visuals they create should ultimately be intriguing, engaging and executed at a professional quality. Graphic design is about communication, and the church’s whole goal is to communicate teachings from the gospel. If we are trying to reach people of all ages, and all seasons of life, then we should be communicating through a universal language, i.e. design.