What exactly makes clip art and generic stock photos lame? Let's take a look together.

You’ve all seen them somewhere, at one point or another. Sparkling crosses, frolicking hearts, glowing sunbeams and cheerful, childish caricatures. Or perhaps you’ve seen stiff postures, glassy eyes, and over-enthusiastic, pearly white smiles.

Can you guess what I’m talking about? That’s right … it’s clip art and generic stock photography.

Most often, when I see an ad or a commercial with cheesy graphics or uber-utopian imagery, I roll my eyes and ignore it. If it’s really bad, I take a screenshot, add a sarcastic caption, and send it to my friends. Yet somehow, in church world, we seem to think cheesy, unrealistic images are perfectly acceptable.

How can the church expect to be taken seriously - or even “get noticed” - if we don’t hold ourselves to a higher standard?

Let me clarify: It is not about looking cool or being trendy (although being aware of trends is helpful if you want to be relevant). It’s about being engaging, inspiring and relatable. The problem with clip art and generic stock photos is that they are poor quality, cliche, overused, outdated, boring - and fake. Is that really what we want to communicate about the Church? About our God?

It’s already easy for an outsider to the church to assume that Christians are weird, hypocritical, superficial, and that our beliefs are archaic, prejudiced and no longer relevant. When we use clip art and generic imagery, we only continue to reinforce those stereotypes.

I invite you to check out our new ebook: Let’s Bring an End to Visual Lameness, below. Then, take a second look at the graphics and images you use in your bulletins, your mailers and on your website. What message are they sending?

Together, let’s make a commitment to tell a better story, not just with our words, but with our pictures, too.