Most of us remember learning how to ride a bike, the excitement and fear, the uncertainty of balance that made our lives flash before our eyes at every slight wobble. Yet we learned that realized the way through all of that was to look forward, keep the handles straight, and pedal: left, right, left, right, left, right… Communicating as the church is no different. Keep focused and pedal like a communicator: print, digital, print, digital, print, digital.
“Print is a great way to get information into people’s hands when they’re present for a Sunday service, Wednesday evening, or special event. “
We’re not in an either/or world, both print and digital have their place in an overall communication strategy. Print is great when the audience is physically with you, and digital is best used for creating connection points when they’re not. That said, print is a great way to get information into people’s hands when they’re present for a Sunday service, Wednesday evening, or special event.
Here’s what we need to think about before anything is designed or handed out: what’s the point? What is the specific action we want people to take after we hand them this card, flyer, booklet, etc.? Content first, then channel. The goal will always dictate what we want to communicate and how much space we need to do it.
Three Main Options
Once the point is established, we can consider how to communicate it. Here are three main print artifacts: weekly bulletins, calendars, and flyers/invites.
Weekly bulletins keep people in the loop with the most important things happening in your church life. Simplicity and minimalism are key to keeping bulletins effective. The fewer items included, the more attention they will get; conversely, the more crammed into a bulletin, the less focus each item receives. Generally, we recommend including three to four announcements, a list of upcoming events, and a place for notes.
Where weekly bulletins focus on the most urgent and time-sensitive pieces of information, calendars forecast what’s to come. Having a long-range calendar forces ministry leaders to plan out their ministry year (or half-year) ahead of time, which provides stability for the congregation. These can be full-on thirty day calendars that families can add their own schedules to or a minimal design that includes events and their dates, with or without a short description.
Flyers are even more specific than weekly bulletins. They highlight a specific event as a reminder for the congregation and the community. One way to get the congregation involved is to create business card-sized invite cards that they can share with friends. The flyer could be something a member puts on their refrigerator as a personal reminder, whereas the cards go far and wide with friends and family. They’re small enough to not be obnoxious but tangible and unique enough to be a capable reminder.
A Printed Unicorn
There is one thing that we would love to see churches experiment with: a quarterly update. Imagine a church that communicated ministry goals, volunteer opportunities, mission objectives, and praise reports comprehensively multiple times a year. Sections would center around the different church leaders discussing what it looks like to be committed to various areas of discipleship, for parents to disciple their children, for students to grow in grace, for young adults to be established in the faith, and for empty nesters to continue cultivating legacy. It also serves as a place for testimonies from those who have come to know the Lord, matured as disciples, or served in various ministries.
The update would essentially be a magazine that highlights all that the church is, has done, and aims to do. The platform is familiar to everyone and fixes a rhythm of creating opportunities for members to get involved in the life of the church and celebrates what God is doing through the means of grace.
If you decide to try this out, let us know!