Tag Archives: media ministry

Is Your Church Media Stuck?

Last week we discussed what I believe is one of the biggest blunders we can make: taking the exciting message of the Gospel and making it drab and unappealing through lazy media design work. I’m certainly not advocating that we change the Gospel message, but I do believe many churches could stand to update their methods in how they share it.

If we’re going to do all things well, to God’s glory, that includes the media design in our churches.

So how can we do that?  Last time [The Big Blunder of Bad Design], I gave you two simple ideas that made a big difference for me when I finally got serious about taking our church’s media to the next level. Allow me to give you two more.

Always look for inspiration

One of the best tips I ever got from an experienced graphic designer was, “You never know when inspiration will strike! Be ready for it.” I realized he was absolutely right. Over and over, through the years, I had seen interesting ideas and designs and done nothing more than think, “Wow, that’s interesting,” and go about my business. But if something catches your attention and makes you think, realize that it might just do that for someone else if you apply that same idea or inspiration to your media design.
So what should you do when you come across an interesting logo, flyer, or advertisement? Capture that image or design and save it for later! Here’s some easy ways to do it:
Clip to Evernote
No program is easier to use when it comes to saving ideas and doing long-term planning than Evernote. The best part? It’s free. Get it here.
Once you’ve downloaded Evernote, you can save ideas, images, webpages or just about anything else you can think of, and sync them across multiple devices. Snap a picture of a sharp looking ad using your cell phone, upload it to Evernote, and find it on your computer when you get back to the office. It’s like we’re living in the future or something! Seriously though, Evernote should be an indispensable tool for you as you think, design, plan and store great ideas.
Add to an online reading list
There are plenty of options, but whether you’re using an app like ReadLater or simply using a built in “Reading List” feature, if you find a great design or article on doing media well, click one or two buttons and save it for later. When you’re looking for inspiration later, pull up your reading list and voila! Instant inspiration.

Download and save to a design ideas file
If, for whatever reason, an online, cloud-based solution won’t work for you, simply save any great design idea that you come across and keep it organized in a file on your computer. I still find inspiration from images I saved years ago in my ideas file. In going back through my file while writing this article, I was reminded that I finally had a breakthrough in designing our bulletin for last year by pulling up an old design that I’d saved in my ideas file. It was just one small element to the design, but it made all the difference. If not for that ideas folder, I might still be stuck!

No matter how you do it, simply stop saying, “Hmm, that’s neat,” and then hoping you’ll remember later. Save that idea immediately and file it away for future use.

Borrow from those who do it best

It’s reported that Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” I’m certainly not for stealing anything in reality, but I am for imitating those who do media well. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’ve flattered a lot of great designers! I don’t recommend just copying and pasting someone else’s work, but there’s lots of proper ways to borrow from good designers.

You can email the designer and ask them if they mind you copying their design. Most media designers that I’ve spoken to or emailed not only don’t mind me copying their design, many have actually offered to send me their artwork or original design files. Others have simply pointed me in the direction of where they drew inspiration or told me that they put their whole design together using free resources.
And that, to me, is the greatest secret to doing media for your church and not breaking the bank. There is an abundance of great logos, images, fonts and other design elements available for absolutely free online.
Check back next week for the final post in this series and we’ll give you links to lots of great free resources that can help take your church media design to another level.

Article by Brad Smith


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The Big Blunder of Bad Design

from HealYourChurchWebsite.com

If there’s one thing that drives me crazy in ministry, it’s churches with ugly media design. Let’s face it: many churches are still stuck in 1997 when it comes to the bland, Microsoft-Publisher-clipart-saturated media that they produce as a ministry. But that’s not just bad for public relations, that’s bad stewardship of the resources God has given us as we try to fulfill our commission to tell the world about Him.

I’m no expert in media design, but over the last 5 years I’ve made a concerted effort to try to learn as much as I can about design in an effort to give my church’s media a fresh, modern appeal. And it’s definitely paid dividends for us. Guest after guest has gone out of their way to tell me that they are very impressed with everything from our handouts to our announcement screens. As a guy with almost no money in the church budget for media and very little free time to work on it, that makes me very happy.

Now, if you’re the type that thinks a horrible looking website or a gaudy flyer keeps you from being conformed to the world, this article is not for you.
But if you realize you’ve got some ground to make up in your church’s media and design work, and you don’t have a full-time media specialist on staff, don’t have a lot of money and don’t know where to start, let me encourage you to start with a few simple ideas that made a huge difference for me as a pastor with limited time and resources.

Less is more

One of the biggest tendencies of bad design is to try to cram as much information as possible onto the front page of your website, or use all 35 of your favorite fonts on your next outreach flyer, but take it from me – don’t. That person receiving your ministry brochure doesn’t need the entire church history or your entire statement of faith or even a flyer that includes every loud color in the rainbow. What they need is something that looks sharp and catches their attention.

Free Logo from CreationSwap.com

So keep your design work simple and keep it clean. Pick one or two clean, simple fonts that complement each other and your design well. Times New Roman is probably not going to add a very dramatic effect to your Easter flyer. And never forget: friends don’t let friends use Comic Sans…EVER.

Make sure your design has plenty of “white space” (Read More). Don’t let it get cluttered or loud. Always try to get down to the bare minimum of text and other elements in your design. The goal is to attract attention, so leave folks wanting more and give them brief instructions on other avenues  to get information, like contacting your office or going online.

Invest where you can

You don’t need to have $5,000 a year squirreled away for software and flashy images from iStockPhoto to be effective in your media presentation. You just need to be smart about when and where you do invest in media.
Money for good software, sharp royalty free images or affordable design classes is never a waste. But if you’re like me, you have to invest what you can, where you can. As far as money goes, to me the best investment a ministry can make in their media design is a membership to a service like gracewaymedia.com. For one yearly fee, you have access to thousands of graphics and backgrounds that can really jumpstart your design work and make life much easier for you.
But even if you don’t have a lot of money, one thing you probably can do is invest by making time. You may not have a lot of money for books and classes on how to use Photoshop, but a quick search on google will yield over a hundred thousand results for “how to use Photoshop.” Google some design tips, watch some online tutorials, with the goal of getting better at design. You may have the latest Adobe Creative Design Suite, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, someone with a free open source copy of GIMP, Microsoft Publisher 2003 and a little know-how can produce a better design product than you ever will (I’ll talk more about free programs & services in a follow-up post!). Just give slow and steady effort to learning how to do better media and you’ll be surprised how the design principles you learn will do more for you than a $1,000 suite of design programs ever will.
Here are two more simple principles and some tips (Part 2) on where you can find some free media ideas and tools to help you take your church’s media to another level.

Article by Brad Smith


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