Churches throughout history have always had an aesthetic aspect to them, whether the goal is a grand one or a simple one. Cathedrals with their breathtaking, high-rise ceilings and their intricate stained glass windows, chapels with velvet-padded pews and hand-painted portraits, or pop-up congregations meeting on fold-out chairs over coffee. Each church has a theology, community, and ultimately, an image. It’s the first two, however, that shape the last. And really, that’s what a church logo should be all about – the church.
Truly, it ‘s hard to find the balance. How do you create a logo that represents your church without having it become what defines you? In a world so focused on appearance, the logo is just as important as it is risky. It is what marks the spot. It’s what decorates billboards and t-shirts and leaflets and websites. It’s the first impression. And, like all first impressions, a good logo will be both informative and inviting.
If you think about it, many of the most famous images for the modern day church are just that, albeit simple: countless single images ranging from a dove to a leaf, a knot to a fingerprint, a mountain to a cross or a steeple. Perhaps there’s a certain sort of ease and approachability, and a bit of intrigue. Moreover, something simple leaves room for the church to be bigger than it’s symbol.
In an article from Roger Oakland, he writes on the famous Calvary Chapel dove, saying,
“While Calvary Chapel leadership has always claimed it is not a denomination, the usage of a specially designed symbol—the dove—has certainly set this association of Calvary Chapel churches apart and distinguished it from other groups.”
Ultimately, it’s an image that has become so large and recognized that it took a shape all its own.
A logo should be clarifying, not conflicting. For instance, the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California has recently worked to reinvent itself with a brand new logo. Instead of the stylized dove, they now project forth an image similar to the look of three leaves. Interestingly, this new symbol is quite commonly used for the representation of the trinity in Catholic, and some Protestant, settings.
The new Calvary Chapel logo means something. It reaches out to other denominations and it makes a statement about the church’s belief system. It’s simple, yes, but it speaks volumes. It’s not alone either. Consider Taproot Church with its three-pronged root, Bethel Church with nothing but its name in a slim font, Bloom with its floating seed, or Park Community Church with its open palm – the examples are endless.
Consider these things when you seek to pinpoint your image. Look deep into the identity and the community of your church, ask for the opinion of the people, and be confident that the logo you settle on encapsulates a small piece of it: its beliefs, its congregation, its future. Remember, you want a first impression that you can be proud of; one that represents all that is good about the place you want to share. Think of the balance. Pour the pride you have in your church into it, let people see!