The Cross Equals Love concept has been used for the Easter branding at Hillsong for just over 10 years. You may have seen flags, or seen it written across the skies. There is even an emoji †=♥.
But have you heard the story behind the symbology? Recently, I had the amazing privilege of interviewing one of the team from Hillsong, Communications Director – Jay Argeat.
The reason why I reached out to Jay is because so many of you work so hard with your own Easter branding for your church. Some of you spend an incredible number of hours crafting the design. And I wanted to share with you how the Cross Equals Love design was conceived and applied.
The Cross Equals Love branding is because its gone way beyond a ‘church’ campaign. It’s become a cultural symbol that drives curiosity and sparks conversation about Jesus.
Tell us the story behind how the Cross=Love branding was created?
Cross Equals Love branding didn’t really start with some wild revelation or with any plan for continued longevity. It was a simple idea for an Easter campaign in 2008, created along with Joel Houston and Laura Toganivalu. The following year, we decided to take the same message and flip it from a campaign name about an event to a message we wanted the world to hear.
In the campaign’s first year, I personally found inspiration from Arthur Stace who for 30 years, from the 1930s to the 1960s, wrote ‘Eternity’ in beautiful copperplate script with a yellow stick of chalk on the pavements of Sydney. Arthur was an underclass battler, former drunk and criminal who radically found Jesus. Following his salvation, he heard the evangelist John Ridley speak a message about ‘shouting eternity through the streets of Sydney’. Stace was inspired! He felt a powerful call from the Lord to write “Eternity” on the footpath. He took the what was in his hand (a stick of chalk) to inspire an entire city on “Where they will spend Eternity” and, as a result, thousands found Jesus.
The simplicity of Arthur’s idea to stir people’s hearts inspired our team to just go wild in getting these symbols in our cities and letting God move the hearts who saw it. And now 10+ years later – we just try to continue the conversation. Now, each year, we really simply just try to pray and think. If God wanted to reach people on this earth with an advertising campaign, what would he want to say? We bring that message.
What surprised you about how it has been implemented?
It has been a surprise that God has blessed and used the campaign the way He has. Also, that people are actually so open to share the gospel. Sometimes you just need to inspire them or show them how.
Do you have any stories of how people have been invited to church or interacted with the branding?
There are thousands of stories I have heard. From backpackers laying on the beach and seeing the symbols in the sky then deciding to come to church – to a story I heard last week about a man who was about to take his life, but in reaching into his pocket found a cross equals love card and God met him… and he didn’t take his life.
Do you have a favourite piece of collateral you’d like to share with us?
Ah – so many… sky writing is always so AMAZING … .but this year, we are taking the salvation prayer to the streets. Thousands of alleys around the world will have a salvation prayer poster next to the Cross Equals Love poster, so people can receive Jesus into their heart right there. I’m excited to hear about people getting radically saved in alleys… I have faith to believe it.
There is no doubt that the Cross Equals Love Campaign has had a massive impact.
I want to encourage you, leader, pastor, church communicator, volunteer – What you do matters. It plays a role in impacting lives. The next time you struggle for inspiration or lack motivation, think about the impact your creative contribution will make to the greatest message ever known.
That this Easter, the Cross Equals Love.
And we want the whole world to know it.
Further reading: Check out the review I did of Hillsong’s Easter Website here.