Archives for category: design

Restoration - by Jin ChoIn addition to my pastoral work with Anchor City, I’ve had the privilege recently of working also with the good people of Flourish San Diego. As implied by our name, the mission of Flourish is:

to help people and churches flourish into the fullness of who they were created to be so they can join God in flourishing our city and world.

One of the frameworks we use to describe how we see the world is The Four-Chapter Gospel (for reference: A two-chapter Gospel basically summarizes life as 1. You’re a sinner and 2. Jesus died for you—nothing false at all, but certainly lacking a broad biblical picture of the fullness of Christ’s love to restore, redeem, and renew all things). In brief:

  1. Ought: God created the world in goodness, love, and holiness. Deep down, many of us feel that longing for the world as it ought to be.
  2. Is: The world, and our own lives, are broken. Every relationship that makes life meaningful (with God, others, ourselves, and creation) has been broken and marred by sin.
  3. Can: Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection make it possible for us to live as citizens and representatives of the Kingdom of God (which, somehow, is already here but not yet fully realized).
  4. Will: One day, rather than burning up the world He so loves in a Nicolas Cage-worthy apocalyptic trainwreck, God will restore all things. As Samwise wonders in Lord of the Rings, we live for the day when our King will make everything sad come untrue.

“Christian” art can be a tricky thing, often being reduced to “successory” style motivational posters or saccharine nostalgia. Culture critic Frank Guan makes the following important observation about art:

To my mind, great art fails to embody a better world, but it carries the promise of such a world and encourages its audience to be worthy of it. Mediocre art, on the other hand, reiterates the world as it already is: Lacking transformative energy, it can only reflect the stinginess and squeamishness of its society of origin.

To my knowledge, Frank has no allegiance to the way of Jesus, but he manages to powerfully advocate for a Four Chapter Gospel understanding of art.

Flourish commissioned my friend Jin Cho for a series of original photos inspired by the Four Chapter Gospel called The Big Story Project. The results are stunning. Each photo of our city (SD forever!) was painstakingly well-thought out and beautifully executed.

The photo at the top of this page is the final photos from The Big Story Project series, “Restoration.” Jin can tell the story better than I can, but there are several ways this embodies the story of Revelation 21 in which God restores all things:

  • There is an ethereal, liminal sense of heaven touching earth—the bridge of reconciliation God builds
  • In the coming Kingdom, work still exists (notice the cranes in the skyline) and is redeemed
  • The light (as described in Revelation 21:23-26) is coming from the city; in fact, God Himself shines as our light forever
  • There is a palpable love for this great city throughout the entire The Big Story Project series
  • After several weeks of trying to line up this shot, Jin was able to capture this beautiful image—at sunrise on Easter Sunday!

Please consider purchasing these prints here. You will be a supporter of the good work of Flourish San Diego, a patron to the artwork of Jin, and a storyteller of the Four Chapter Gospel in your home (or wherever you choose to display these wonderful photos!).

Rather than delving into significant theological discussions about ancient/future worship, this headline references the old school Bones Brigade video, Future Primitive.

Enter into the painfully dated 80s vibe below:

A surprising number of 80s fashion motifs have returned with a vengeance lately. Is the photo below Saved by the Bell or a gathering of Silver Lake hipsters? You make the call!

While we’re waiting on the return of pegged jeans, we can all enjoy these VHS-inspired skate decks from 5boro. By “we,” of course, I mean old folks who lived through the 80s the first time around!

Okay, couldn’t resist a quick worship reference—the excellent Future/Past by John Mark McMillan:

One of the hallmarks of our postmodern, internet-driven culture is that communication is moving away from the written word toward images. Just check your social media streams — the perpetual-motion reblog machine that is Tumblr, the Ecards filling up your Facebook news feed, the ubiquity of infographics. We live and breathe images today.

Design matters.

Not simply for the sake of an aesthetically-pleasing picture (which, I would argue, does matter) but in order to communicate effectively.

That’s why I’m always intrigued by efforts to redesign documents and forms we use every day. Simply put, many of them are a cluttered mess — the unspoken message, when a person picks one up, is often, “What, exactly, am I filling out now?”

This is an interesting take on redesigning the British birth certificate. Granted, there is some unnecessary information here, but your eye can easily find what’s most important on this document.

Think how much easier it would be to understand the most important information (i.e., where I am going and when) if your airplane ticket looked more like this?

Apparently, sometimes these things work. Perhaps American Airlines took several of the suggested principles from this designer in their recent rebranding/website re-launch.

.   .   .   .   .

Pastors, we are called to share the Word of God, which endures forever.

In service to this high calling, I encourage you to learn to communicate the Word of God visually.  You don’t have to be an artist, and you don’t have to ride a motorcycle into the main sanctuary (for reals), but tying together visual elements will help you deliver more effective sermons.

Keep it simple. Too much information per slide is kind of overwhelming. You don’t have to go ultra-simple, full-on Pecha Kucha — 20 slides, 20 seconds each — but please don’t use any of these cluttered, crazy presentations as your guides.

Seriously, you’ll end up with this.

Although this is ancient history (2007!), Seth Godin’s tips on simple, effective presentations still work today.

These days, I’ve been creating graphics to highlight Scripture verses and quotes (which I believe is more effective than simply putting the words onto a blank screen):

Beautiful feet

I’ve been inspired by several friends who have made a daily commitment to developing their God-given creativity, whether it’s through drawing, photography, or writing. While I don’t have the time (read: discipline) to commit daily to this practice, I’ve been interested in handlettered art.

A few sources of inspiration: You’ve probably seen the work of Dana Tanamachi, or at least pale imitations of her work on Pinterest. I also love the work by the designers and artists who display their work on Typographic Verses.

With that, I’ve been trying my (ahem) hand at handlettering. The process of conceptualizing, sketching, erasing, re-drawing, editing, and final production teaches me so much not only about creativity & art, but also writing, preaching, and communication.

Sitting quietly in front of a blank page, listening, is becoming a spiritual discipline for me.

Here’s my latest — I certainly don’t do it justice, but this is one of my favorite passages for how God deals with our sin. There’s something so vivid about God heaving our sins into the deepest of oceans, to be remembered no longer:

Handlettering - Cast their sins

Love these superhero prints reimagined noir:

Sometimes, in choosing to pursue what is right, we will discover the way really is narrow.

We need to stay connected to the One who is life and to each other as we pursue lives of justice, mercy, and humility.