4 Must-Haves For Your Church Website

We live in a high-tech world. Love it or hate it, it’s the way of the world and the church has a responsibility to meet people where they are, even if that place is the world wide web. The problem is, so many congregations have failed to keep up with the times and while most congregations have a church website, some of them look like they are still awaiting Y2k. While there are certainly a number of things that your church website needs, here are some simple must-haves.

  1. Mobile Friendly Web Design– This is also known as a responsive website which is fancy talk for “it looks as good on your phone as it does on your computer”.  A HUGE population of people now are using their smart devices to access content (think 80%) which means if your site isn’t mobile ready, you are not reaching a major group of people who I assure you will not stay on your website.
  2. Clear Contact Information/Directions– This is probably one of two reasons people are coming to your site. They either want to contact you via email/phone or they want to know how to get to your building. Providing clear directions is extremely important and that often includes more than just listing an address. If you know that your location is somewhat difficult to find, then provide additional details that will help visitors find you easily.
  3. Worship/Bible Study Times- This is probably the second biggest reason people will visit your website. Make this clear and easy to find and understand.
  4. A link to Your Social Media Profiles- At a minimum, your congregation should have a Facebook page; if it doesn’t, do it now! Seriously, we’ll wait right here while you go and do it. It’s free and it opens up a whole new level of communication to your congregation and potential visitors. Your website should have a clear link to those social media profiles, where you regularly post.

If your congregation needs some help with a new website or a website makeover, get in touch with our design company, Parker and Marie Design Co.  Not only will you get a great looking website, but you’ll be helping support Stuff Preachers Use, as well.

 

5 Free or Cheap Design Resources for Churches

As you read in our article recently, we truly believe great design has an important place in ministry. We also know that most churches are on a tight budget, so we made a list of places to help. Here are five great free or cheap resources for churches.

 

  1. Creative Market – This one isn’t free, but it is inexpensive. You can find everything from fonts to flyer templates to WordPress themes. All of them are of great quality and professionally designed.
  2. Font Squirrel – Ridiculous name. Awesome Fonts. All the fonts on font squirrel are licensed for commercial use and FREE.
  3. Unsplash – This is a free, royalty free, image source with a focus on high quality images.
  4. VistaPrint – Vistaprint is a fast, affordable way to obtain professionally printed items at a very affordable rate. They also have professionally designed templates on nearly all their items, making your design time even less.
  5. Dribbble – This one doesn’t provide much in the way of downloads or templates, but it does provide a great source of inspiration. Dribbble is a community of amazing designers sharing their work. You can search for inspiration on logos, brochures, etc.

Have a favorite design source we left off? Let us know in the comments below.

Why Design Matters in Ministry

We get an occasional email or comment here at SPU from some folks who fuss at us for putting an emphasis on design in ministry. They say things like “the word of God doesn’t need to be fancy to be powerful” or “ministry isn’t about how good things look” and with those statements we wholeheartedly agree. However, that isn’t to say that good design in ministry isn’t important.

The fact of the matter is, that people, whether we like it or not, do in fact, judge a book by its cover. And not just books; it’s flyers, logos, visual presentations, the whole package. In a world where so many things are begging for our attention, great design can be the difference between being seen and being ignored. I’m not suggesting that you can’t have a great ministry or  a great congregation if you don’t have amazing graphics or fancy flyers. I am suggesting that, for the most part, the church could benefit from paying more attention to how it presents information in our modern age.

Take the classic gospel meeting flyer, for example. Here’s what I’ve noticed is a pretty standard form for a flyer:

  1. White or brightly colored copy paper
  2. Black ink (mostly poor print quality)
  3. Name of the Church in plain serif font followed by the words “invites you to” in some form or another
  4. The word “Gospel Meeting”, “Revival”, or some other phase
  5. A picture of the speaker
  6. Topics
  7. Phone number/address of the building

 

Then we take those and hand them to hundreds of folks who probably don’t look twice at it because, frankly, it’s not worth looking at. I’m not saying the information is useless. I’m saying maybe if a little more effort went into what the flyer looked like folks would at least give it a glance. The greatest information in the world is useless unless people actually look at it.

Now, some of you are going to call me out and say that it’s the most economical way to do it. You might be right, but is it the best way? Isn’t the kingdom of God supposed to be our most important task on Earth? If we’re going to hand out a flyer, shouldn’t it be one that we think will at least get looked at? Besides, a nice looking handout isn’t as expensive as you might think. You can get 100 full-color, professionally printed postcards for under $15 from Vistaprint. They even have free professionally designed templates for you to use, so all you have to do is enter the information.

Furthermore, it’s not just flyers; it’s our websites, PowerPoints, bulletins, etc. If we’ve decided they’re worth doing, why not take some time to make sure they’re seen? Is great design going to drive the masses to your congregation or save a 100 million souls? Nope, but it might be the difference in just one and to me that’s worth its weight in gold.  

8 Tips for Better Visual Presentations

Let’s be honest: We’ve all used  seen some pretty awful PowerPoint presentations. You know what I’m talking about. With all the resources available to preachers and teachers today, don’t fall victim to terrible presentations. If you’re going to invest the time to do a visual presentation with your lesson, take the time to do it right. Here are some tips for better visual presentations:

  1. Don’t Just Read Your Slides Verbatim. If you’re using your PowerPoint as just a giant version of your outline, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously. Science has proven that you can’t actually comprehend what someone is saying and read the slide at the same time. People don’t want to be read something they can read faster than you can talk. If you want to make sure everyone has your outline, print it out and hand it out after your lesson.
  2. Don’t Crowd Your Slides. Trying to fit too much on a slide is a big no-no. Try to keep it under 10 words per slide. Don’t try to jam every word in, rather use the visual image to reinforce what you’re saying.
  3. Keep It Simple. The best presentations I have ever witnessed were also the simplest. There’s no need to go for fancy to make your presentation be effective. Forgo fancy transitions, fonts, and colors for a nice, clean, simple presentation. Your listeners will thank you.
  4. Use high-quality images. If you acquire your images by Google search only and they have watermarks, are bad quality, or cheesy, you need to look into better sources. There are many, many sources for acquiring free or cheap stock images that will make your presentation pop. This is a great source for high-res images: https://unsplash.com/
  5. Use No More than Three Fonts. Ideally you should use no more than 2, but if you must, add a third. Too many fonts only makes for confusion for your listeners and distracts from your presentation.
  6. Use Easy to Read Fonts.  Stick to poster fonts, simple serif and sans serif fonts that are easy to read and are legible. Please, for the sake of us all, don’t use Curlz, Comic Sans, or Papyrus. Try getting your fonts from here: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/
  7. Be cohesive. Make your slides look like they belong together and weren’t thrown together haphazardly. Choose a color scheme of 1-2 colors and stick with it. Don’t feel pressured to have an image on every slide and don’t be scared of white space.
  8. Don’t Let It Be a Crutch. Remember, visual presentations are supposed to reinforce your sermon, not be your sermon. If your lesson would be destroyed because PowerPoint failed, you might want to reevaluate how you are presenting sermons.

Visual presentations can be an awesome source for teachers and preachers when utilized properly. These simple tips can drastically improve the overall quality of your presentation. If you’re looking for some additional help, I highly recommend the book Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.

 

Keep Your Bulletin Fresh

Do you find that your efforts to create a bulletin every week are in vain? Does that printed piece hit the garbage cans as soon as services are concluded? Here are some tips on how to create a more lasting and engaging bulletin:

Appearance
1. Good news – you have officially been invited to the “No Old Clipart Allowed” club! One of the worst things you can do is cram outdated clipart graphics into every corner of your layout. There are some nice new illustrations that can be found on stock websites, and here are a few affordable options:
2. Choose a color scheme of 3-4 complimentary colors and try to keep it consistent. If you have too many colors, then it can end up being overpowering and distracting. On the flip side, too few colors can be boring. If your church already has a logo identity established, then it is probably wise to stick with those colors.
3. Find and incorporate some trendy fonts. This can have a massive impact on how interesting your bulletin becomes. Here are some incredible FREE resources you can tap:
Feel
1. Find some good quality paper stock from your local supplier, as this can give a great first impression for members and visitors alike. People notice things such as the weight and feel of the paper stock, even if it seems insignificant to you. This doesn’t need to be an area you splurge on…but your readers will definitely know when you are cutting corners.
2. When it comes to folds, just remember this isn’t origami. If you have a considerable amount of content, then I suggest sticking with a single fold booklet.
3. If you currently only have a printed bulletin, I strongly urge you to create an online version, too. This can be emailed out at the beginning of each week, since some members prefer to do their reading on a screen.
Content
1. Try to use lots of photos, because we are a visual culture. Too much verbiage in articles can be overwhelming to most people, so it is refreshing on the eyes images are mixed in properly. If you are unable to provide your own, you can always check the already mentioned stock photo sites above.
2. Make space for advertising your upcoming events, especially big lectureships or meetings. This will provide a nice reminder for your readers, and will also create a nice buzz of excitement as well.
3. Make it interactive by introducing trivia and puzzles, and only reveal the answers from the pulpit the following week.
4. Remember – your readers are your support group. If you are still looking for ways to engage them, then try asking for suggestions in your bulletin. This can especially be helpful if you are searching for topics to write about.
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trey“Trey Ingram grew up in Hobe Sound, Florida, and later moved north to Jacksonville with his wife. When he isn’t creating out-of-this-world graphics, he enjoys the beach life, traveling, being a big kid with his little boy and playing soccer. Every day he rolls out of bed with the intent to “wow” clients with professional graphic design. Art is such an obsession for Trey that he notices it everywhere he looks. Trey’s that weird person that you pass by in the grocery store aisle that stops to take photos of the latest product packaging. Trey is inspired by a good challenge, which fuels him to take your design to new heights.”