The problem haunts you. The big question is: What can our church do to make people more aware of itself and its ministries? Newspaper ads? TV and radio programming? More personal contacts by members with neighbors and friends?
One very effective way of telling others what you are doing through the various ministries of your church is a simple, well-designed brochure. It may not fill every need, but a brochure with interesting pictures and brief copy will be read. It will, in a few short words and pictures, tell the community what your concerns are, what services you offer, and the times for weekly worship and other church meetings. It will provide you with something to give to people who ask about your church.
Now that my church has developed such a brochure, we are finding many possibilities for its use. Here are some of the ways that we have been using our brochure: in weekly calls on visitors to our Sabbath services; to give to Biblestudy interests when we are ready to invite them to our church; in a directmail program to each home within a one-mile radius of the church; as a primary item in a packet of materials for a "welcome wagon" type ministry to the newcomers in our community; to respond to various requests for information regarding our Community Services; in the literature racks of our doctors' and dentists' office waiting rooms.
Perhaps you and your church have been interested in such an idea already, but you felt stopped at the very outset by the lack of a model to go by or even a procedure to follow in planning. Let me briefly outline the way that my church, the Yuba City Seventh-day Adventist church, went about designing its church brochure.
First, the pastoral staff, in conjunction with the board of elders, analyzed our church and its programs. We set out to discover and define our purpose for existence, what our particular mission to Yuba City should be. We asked ourselves such questions as: "What does our church have to offer the community?" (This forced us to realize that if we didn't have anything to offer, we desperately needed to reevaluate our ministry.) Why would, or should, anyone be interested in our church? What do we have to be proud of? These questions are the basics for creating the brochure. It is upon these questions that the brochure must be based. Focus your attention on the good points of your church and its programs and build them up.
Next the lay ministries council appointed a committee of three to develop the brochure. They asked a member who was an amateur photographer to take a large number of pictures of the church in all of its various activities, including Sabbath school classes. He gave special attention to those programs that we wanted to emphasize. Realizing our desire to focus on the community centeredness of our church, he even arranged to take several aerial shots of the building.
When the photographer was satisfied that he had all the pictures he needed at present, the committee met with him and selected the best for the brochure. We made sure that the pictures represented our statement of purpose and mission. In some areas, we found there just wasn't quite the emphasis we were looking for. So we asked our photographer to take more pictures in these areas, giving specific details of what we were looking for.
After the pictures were selected, a couple of artistically inclined members helped design a layout. This was a detailed sketch of where we wanted pictures and copy: we were careful to place what we felt were the most important items where they would be seen first upon opening the brochure.
As the next step, the pastoral staff took the pictures and layout, and developed the copy for the brochure based on the statement of purpose. We weighed our words carefully, trying to be as brief as possible. Our emphasis was on three main areas: We are a Bible-preaching church, we are a Christ-centered church, and we are a community-oriented church. When writing, we kept in mind certain details that cannot be omitted schedule of meetings, map of the location of the church, and the address and phone number of the church.
Let me insert a word of caution here. Unless your church's appeal to the community is built around you as a well-known or particularly dynamic pas tor, take great pains to avoid dating the brochure by having yourself specifically featured either in picture or in copy. Likewise, do not print your address or phone number in the brochure. This could save your church a great amount of time and money when a pastoral change is made.
Now that you have a good idea of what you want your brochure to be, you are ready to shop around for bids. We found that our best bids came from printers who had their own color-separation equipment and who dealt with a large volume of work. We also found that a printer with a staff artist is very advantageous. A professional in art and design can do wonders for creating just the right mood for your brochure. It is also a good idea to see samples of the printer's and designer's work.
Of course, the four-color process (full color pictures) will be the most expensive, but well worth the cost in my estimation. After all, the brochure rep resents your church and your God. You will find that the major portion of the total cost is taken up in making color separations and in setting up the plates for printing. Once the primary run is met (the minimum number you must order), the cost goes down sharply. In our case, it cost $850 for 3,000 brochures, but only $950 for 5,000. So project far enough into the future in planning how you will use the brochures and determine whether a larger quantity may be worth the price. Be careful, however, not to order far more than you can use just because the unit price is lower. You haven't saved money if you have to discard thousands of out-of-date brochures.
It is best not to get too attached to your projected layout. Be flexible. Don't dictate which type style must be used. Let the printer's staff artist experiment with your layout. Remember, he is a professional at what he does and wants to give you the best-quality brochure possible. Know what you want, but be willing to look at alternatives. The result may well be something much better than you had envisioned.
When the proof comes, read it care fully. We had one of our schoolteachers proofread the brochure, checking care fully for spelling and grammar. This proved helpful in the long run.
When the final copy came off the press, we were more than satisfied. Our church now had a brochure that represented our mission and purpose and gave glory to God.