If you’re thinking seriously about trying to update your church’s creative and design output, it can be a bit daunting to know where to begin.
To help make things a bit easier we’ve put together a rough design process that should help you get started.
This may seem like a lot, but anyone could do a decent job of the whole process in just a couple of hours, and it will pay dividends in the long run.
1. Write a business plan
This may sound odd, controversial even, and while a church is not a business, in many ways it operates like one.
Just like a business, a church has objectives, strategies, an audience and marketing to consider.
While a business’s prime objective is profit, a church’s is the great commission of Matthew 28. How that will be carried out however, will vary from church to church.
That is why it is worth putting down on paper (or pixel), some solid ideas of who you are as a church, and what your mission is.
Thinking through things like the existing congregation, the area you’re based, the people you’re seeking to reach, the resources available, and the ministries you currently run, will help give you a clearer vision of how you design for your church.
2. Decide on your audience
You should have partially covered this in your business plan, and so by now, you should know both your existing congregation, and the people you’re trying to reach.
From here you need to decide who you’re targeting with your creative output.
You might be thinking: ‘That’s easy, we’re targeting everyone in the surrounding neighbourhood!’. However it might not be that straightforward.
If you have a diverse neighbourhood for example, made up of people from different countries, cultures and religions, and you create a flyer that is aimed at a secular, english-speaking audience, it probably won’t get the best results.
Of course, there’s alway going to be a huge variety of people to reach, and you can’t cater to them all. But having a clear idea of who you’re going to concentrate your efforts on will make a huge difference.
3. Research your content
The first and most obvious suggestion for content is to look for (and discuss with locals) the needs that the gospel meets, that are specific to your neighbourhood.
For example where there is insecurity you might want to show the security Jesus offers. Where there is dissatisfaction, show the satisfaction Jesus offers and so on.
Obviously, you need to be careful with how you eventually present this to avoid sounding like a cult, but essentially what you are doing is seeking to advertise the fullness of the gospel as clearly as possible.
Beyond that, visiting the websites of other churches that you believe have a similar demographic to you, is a great way of gathering ideas fast.
Write down a list of things you like, and things you don’t, things that you think work, things that you think are missing, and compare this to your business plan.
It will help you to come up with the sort of content that you need to generate to reach the people in your local area.
3. Research your design
As we covered briefly in a previous post, when we look at an example of design, we know instinctively who it’s supposed to be catering to.
By now we should be clear about who we’re trying to reach so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find examples of design that appeal to our intended audience (and we mean it when we say appeal, people will be put off by design that they don’t think relates to them).
Like before, visit other church websites with a similar demographic, explore how they use images, text and colour. Take note of the things they think it’s important to highlight, and how they convey information.
In the real world, look at shop signs, posters, adverts. Take note of the things you see that appear often, how they’re presented, the things they highlight. Again, things like the images, text and colour, you may see repeated words, and themes that you could take advantage of.
From here get a document together with a few ideas on, and even consider creating an online scrapbook on a site like Pinterest.
4. Design away!
Now you know what content you want to create, and have an idea of how you want it to look, you can start creating!
There are plenty of free and cheap software and websites you can use to create your designs, and content, many of which you probably already know about, but we will go over and recommend a few in a future blog post.
Once you’ve chosen how you’re going to create your content, remember the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Stupid!
As a basic rule, for print, only put on the most basic information on you need. You can always (and probably should) encourage people to go to your website, if there’s too much content to fit legibly.
For web, avoid overwhelming people with walls of text. Keep the info to short, easy-to-use sentences, with headlines, and always, always, always, use lots of engaging imagery.
Of course, you could have the best graphic design, creative and marketing in the world, and not see any people won for Christ, alternatively you may have the worst and yet still see thousands saved.
As Psalm 127 makes clear, any success we see is down to The Lord, and we appreciate design is a low priority for many churches, so these tips are never meant to replace humble evangelism, and the preaching of the gospel.
If anything, we believe that good creative should adorn the work that’s already being done, to make it easier to encourage our neighbours to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
And while this may take a bit of time and effort, we firmly believe it is a worthwhile endeavour, and will bless the good work churches are already doing.
Next time we’ll be covering some good resources to use to implement the above