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I remember my mom, after cooking a big ol? chicken dinner for us, would take the chicken carcass (we?re talking bones, skin?the whole bit), add some veggies, a little salt and pepper, and put it all in boiling water and let it cook and cook. It would cook for hours. She then removed the bones and strained it into jars as she smiled, so proud of her chicken stock.

It was the leftovers that she made available for other meals. Many are using that chicken stock as their art on Sunday. They?re using one meal?s leftovers for their meal. It?s someone else?s work that they?re using for their service.

And there?s nothing wrong with it, unless you just use it as is. Have you ever tried chicken stock by itself? It?s not very tasty. It needs to be applied to the current dish. It needs to be worked. Then it can be a great complement to the meal.

You may use resources like LifeChurch.tv, CreationSwap, iStock, or Google Image Search (please don?t use that). There?s nothing wrong with those resources, but when you use these graphics by themselves, you?re cutting yourself and your church short.[quote]When you use free?graphics by themselves, you?re cutting yourself and your church short.[/quote]

One of the very typical pitfalls in church design, and industry design actually, is to put design before communication. I wrote about this in Outspoken a few years ago, so this isn?t a new problem. We are visual people. We see something, it looks great, and we?re sold. We sift through all of LifeChurch.tv?s amazing designs and we are in awe, it is beautiful. So beautiful, that we need to use it. Then we don?t pay any attention to what we are trying to say through the sermon series. We are just blinded by the fact that it looks good even though it may not communicate well.

This leaves those that experience the work disappointed and disconnected. To start with, LifeChurch.tv (or your resource of preference) took a lot of time and resources to create what you used and took it all the way into the church. You don?t have those resources, so it?s a bit of bait and switch. You lead with the awesome graphic on your website, but the rest of the church experience doesn?t live up to it. But more importantly, the visuals you led with don?t connect to the story that?s being told from stage. There?s a disconnect between the brand and vision.

So what do we do with all these great resources out there? After all, many of us are at churches that don?t have the staff to pull off full-scale graphics and design. We need these resources.

I say use them as a springboard. A diver knows how he?s diving before he even begins to climb the ladder of the dive board. He knows the exact move his body will make and he knows where he is headed. Before you even get on that ladder to begin to design for the weekend, take the time to understand where things are going. Why are you in this series? What changes will people make because of it? What is the big thing someone should walk away with? It?s the smell the hound dog gets before it begins to chase the trail. Get that smell and now look through all those resources.

The next part is the fun part! It?s also scary at first too. It?s about taking apart the resource you found for free (or a moderate price). Then you make it work for you.

The coolest Lego creations my son ever built weren?t on the box. It went like this: open the box > follow the directions > build what?s on the front of the box > destroy it and build something cooler. Use the free resource as your starting point, and strip away those elements that don?t really connect to your message. The graphic in front of you may have some really cool grungy texture, get rid of it. It doesn?t fit your brand. Edit away as much as you can and then begin to add to it.[quote]Use free resources as your starting point, and strip away those elements that don?t really connect to your message.[/quote]

This is where you begin to make a feast. This is where no one will end up even noticing the chicken stock. Bring in other pieces, create your own, change up the layout? this is why you?re a designer and not a collector, you were meant to create things. Let all of these free resources, stock photography, and vectors and your unique ability create something that is remarkable.

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