What Are Your Design Principles?

I’m geeking out this week, anticipating the arrival of Android’s operating system update on my phone. Simply called “L” (or “Lollipop”–Google names all of its OS versions on candy), this software update employs something called “material design” that is making tech writers woozy with praise. I. Can’t. Wait.

Android is a mobile computing platform onto which developers of software applications can build their tools. In order to build apps for the platform, however, you have to understand its “Design Principles.” I’ve been intrigued by the metaphor of church as  “platform” for a few years now, and I wonder if “Design Principles” aren’t a good way to think about ministry.

Google tells developers that, in Material Design, “Material is the metaphor. The fundamentals of light, surface, and movement are key to conveying how objects move, interact, and exist in space and in relation to each other. Realistic lighting shows seams, divides space, and indicates moving parts.” Whether you’re making a game or a calendar app, there’s the guideline.

It also wants “The foundational elements of print-based design—typography, grids, space, scale, color, and use of imagery—” to “guide visual treatments.” Whether your app takes pictures or reads email, there’s the guideline.

In Lollipop, “Motion respects and reinforces the user as the prime mover.” That guideline applies to everything a developer might build for Android.

What Design Principles do we have for ministries at our churches? Are there “foundational elements” that guide every prospective worship gathering, educational event, or community-building effort? Who do our activities (and non activities) reinforce as the “prime mover?” What is the unifying metaphor behind all of the ways we express our life of faith together?

What are the church’s Design Principles? Do they change or are they constant across time? Are they contextual or the same everywhere?

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