Today, at a Hospitality Forum after worship, we revealed our new logo at the Kirk. Many good people have put lots of hours into it, and I’m rather excited by it, and by the direction we’ve been moving.
Want to see it? Its after the jump, but first, a quick aside:
The group at the Kirk working on what we’ve traditionally called evangelism is our Growth and Marketing Team. I admit: I have mixed feelings about the name of that group. Both “Growth” and “Marketing” I’d want to unpack, and qualify, and contextualize better.
Growth, if that means just a focus on the number of members, isn’t the aim of The Kirk; discipleship, faith, relationship is. Growth, based on just the numbers, is commodification. Sure, we want more and more people to join us. We’ve got a good thing going, we think, and we want others to share with us, to become part of our journey too, so we can grow and change and serve along side them also. We will have to, if we’re going to be a thriving community of faith. But that can only be a secondary goal, and a result of our growth in faith and love. Its an invitation, not a competition. Furthermore, the Church isn’t a “business.” We aren’t selling or offering a product, or a service. So Marketing, communicating the value of a product or service, if it only works in a commercial sense, doesn’t quite fit either.
But growth is essential for the church, isn’t it? “Go, therefore, and make disciples.” And to do that in the 21st century, in a post-christendom era, there will have to be communication that tells what we’re about, that signals core values, that we seek to be part of the modern era, ask relevant questions, long for authentic relationship with 21st century people, not asking people to behave or believe like its 1950 or 1960.
So Growth and Marketing at The Kirk is really Welcoming and Communication, and like all other ministries of our church, it is woven deeply into all of the other work. Mission and Outreach, in real ways, is the new evangelism, because it is through serving others that we will grow: grow in relationships, and grow in numbers as others want to participate in acts of serving and loving others that isn’t about trying to get another notch in our belt or a new member for the sake of the bottom line or of numbers. Worship is the new evangelism, because it is the heart of the church, and true worship has a place for all. Christian Education is the new evangelism, because it is through learning together how to be faithful that we open ourselves to authentic relationship with others and with God, and thereby open ourselves to grow in faith and in the size of our community. And so on.
But the Growth and Marketing team is our group that will help us be more hospitable, and the people who are helping us communicate well who we are, and what we’re all about. Our communication efforts began last year with a new tagline–The Kirk: Community Minded; Loving and Serving. We’re “minding” our community (both the Kirk as a community, and the local community surrounding us that God has given us to engage) through love and through service. Simply put, we’re seeking to be Christ’s hands and feet, where we are, as God leads us. This gives us focus: the ability to guide our ministry together and to explain simply to others what we’re trying to do.
Next, we worked on this new logo. We had options, including getting a generic logo or bidding out to some designer online. But in the end we decided that we valued the unique product that could only come by getting to know a designer. So we found someone local whom one of us knew, and invited her to come meet us. She walked around our building. She asked questions. She noted key features of our congregation, our theology, and our space. I shared a beer with her. She drafted some options, and worked with us to hone them and refine them. It took about three months. And here’s the end result:
Here’s what we love about it:
A Circular Logo
Evocative of our circular sanctuary, our primary place of worship, the circle is meant to invite all people in, to stress that all are equally welcome, to privilege no one particular position since all are equally created in the image of God and each of us are in our own place on the journey of faith.
The three circles around the logo are multi-colored, meant to express gratitude for the diversity of the created order and of the human family. But the colors radiate outward, from the inner-ring which is the same color as the center, outward to different shades of blue. This is meant to stress the outward movement of the church, seeking not its own life but the well-being of others. This is truly what the (now somewhat overused) word “missional” means: a church deeply concerned that others may have life, and life abundant. These circles, if you visit our sanctuary, will also remind you of the bricks that are similarly staggered around our worship space. It also doesn’t hurt that the colors remind us of fire and of water, and therefore of the welcome and the grace of baptism, or that there are three circles, which remind us of the triune God.
The Cross at the Center
Reminds us that Jesus is the Center of our life as a church, the one who calls us into being, the Lord of the Church. In the past, we’ve felt compelled to explain what a Kirk is (“the Scottish name for a Church,” we’d say). Now, with the cross at the center of our logo, we are not going to do that any longer, trusting that people will know what a Kirk is, or at least what this Kirk is. The cross on our logo itself opens at the bottom, where the door of our sanctuary is, out into the world.
A Celtic Cross
Its hard to walk very far at the Kirk without seeing a celtic cross. They’re everywhere: a gray cross hanging on our building facing the busiest street on our intersection, another built in stone in the west facade of our courtyard. There’s a brass one hanging when you walk in the main entryway, and there’s one way up on the steeple above our sanctuary. Which makes sense: they’re particularly evocative of the church in the British Isles, including Scotland, where our denomination finds much of its history and from which came our formal namesake, John Knox. This not only nods at our history, but is something you’ll see all over our building, something unique about this particular community of faith.
A Simplified Name and a Modern Typeface
We do not have complaints about our name: the John Knox Presbyterian Kirk. It will remain our formal name for now, on documents and contracts and such. But we found, at a time where we’re trying to tear-down barriers and misunderstandings that the world might have about us, that the name was creating barriers. No one knew who John Knox was, what a Kirk is, or even what was particularly meant by Presbyerian. Often, if people did know the name John Knox, it was presumed to be part of a retirement community in the area, John Knox Village. They’re great, but they’re not us. In our conversations, we didn’t find a particularly strong historical connection with John Knox, his work or his theology, any more than other theologians or pastors–past or present. In the end, we decided to move more decisively toward simply calling ourselves “The Kirk.” Its set here in a great modern sans-serif typeface, a signal to those who have an eye for design that we seek to be conversive in the modern world.
Some have asked about whether we are intending to reduce or minimize our relationship with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We are not. We are proudly a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Congregation, and in particular the movement lately toward expressing more clearly what our inclusive theology means through permission to celebrate same-sex marriages and the adoption of the Confession of Belhar. We expect to say we are proudly Presbyterian boldly and clearly. Not necessarily everywhere, on every document or sign. But certainly as many places as possible. We are a Presbyterian Church, organizing ourselves a certain way and identifying ourselves as a local expression of the one larger denomination of which we are a part.
At the same time, in an increasingly post-denominational world, we decided to try aiming simple: we are The Kirk. We might sometimes say we are The Kirk of Kansas City. But we remain a particular congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with this moniker, and proudly so.
That’s our new logo. We’re rather excited about it, and feel particularly confident that it expresses something of who we are, and what we want to be.
Next will come all the things we might do with a logo: a new website redesign (our front page to the world), stationary, business cards, t-shirts, who knows.
None of these things will in and of themselves convince anyone to visit. They are not substitutes for the work of the community to reach out to others with genuine welcome and true love. They are not ends of themselves. But they are important, and useful. We hope that a unified communications effort–if you want to call that marketing, fine–will help in clear messaging, warm invitation, a signal to the world that we want to talk to it in a language and means it understands and finds compelling. We think that aesthetics matter, that art is beautiful and that communication design can be seen as an artistic celebration of beauty in God’s world. And through these things, we are aiming for growth in relationships, in chances to serve and to love, and, ultimately, to be a more true expression of our portion of what God is doing to bring about the realm of God for all.
What do you think?