Referring to your recent articles on Christian visual communications (Comment and News Analysis, DW 24 January), I think they are more highly developed than either suggests.
A clear understanding of good design is reflected in the publications of evangelical publishers like Lion-Hudson, which has been very design-aware since the 1980s. Not to mention Scripture Union.
Both articles cite Derek Birdsall’s excellent design for Common Worship. This was preceded by the Alternative Services Book, which may have had its faults when it comes to its construction, but was well designed. In fact, many works from Church House Publishing use excellent typography.
A lot of churches are using centuries-old buildings, which can’t be altered, but the better off ones have been able to modernise the interiors and commission contemporary altar frontals. New churches are being built, but, unless they are going to be cathedrals, the sort of budgets that can be raised by grants and the local community are not of the size provided by medieval or Victorian patrons, so the designs tend to be functional.
I believe that a key image problem for the Church is in how it presents itself to men.
Most men who have taken on board the Gospel vaguely appreciate the flowers and songs of love. But to your average bloke, that church image is a major turn-off. While the life followed by a Christian is as filled with attack and tumble as any rugby match, church itself is perceived as soppy, embarrassing and unassertive – not man-friendly.
Most people still show Christianity as their faith on hospital forms, although this is not reflected in the pews. If a woman attends church regularly, she will end up by bringing her family along in 17 per cent of times. But if a man does this, the figure goes up to 93 per cent. Now there’s an interesting design problem. Crack it and you have a highly efficient sales force.
Jim Surguy, Senior partner, Harvest Consulting, London W1