Seven Thoughts on Staying Relevant and Effective in Your Ministry Communications
When it comes to technology, media, and other forms of communication, nothing is ever finished. That is a truth statement. Repeat it until you believe it. Now, apply it to everything.
Even the Bible, which is finished in its original manuscripts, requires us to continually make translations that are faithful to the original text while being clear in contemporary language. Words change meaning, or nuance. We must continually seek to address those changes.
Some personality types like to do something once and then be done with it for good. I can appreciate that, but that is an approach that neither reflects the living and active nature of our Creator, nor addresses the changing needs of our audiences.
Some teachers develop a class and then never modify or adjust the class again. Some ministries will produce marketing materials and then use the same materials year after year without updating them. As our culture, our audience, and our methods of mass media are in a state of continuous flux, we must continuously reevaluate, realign, and refine how we do what we do.
As our culture, our audience, and our methods of mass media are in a state of continuous flux, we must continuously reevaluate, realign, and refine how we do what we do.
Remember when only the coolest, hippest churches had websites? Simply having someone in the church produce a basic website using HTML on their desktop computer was a big victory. Over the course of a few years, websites became increasingly slick. Their interfaces became user-friendly and visually appealing. About the time that latecomers were catching up with the professional looking website genre, smart phones began to make it necessary to optimize websites for handheld devices.
In addition to technology changes, we must recognize that people and their communication preferences change as well. Consider this, when we say that a home is dated, we are typically referring to the idea that the colors, textile choices, and decorations reflect the preferences of a bygone era. In the television show, the Brady Bunch which ran from 1969 until 1974, their kitchen was dominated by the color orange. Family Ties, 1982 – 1989, had a kitchen that was dominated by dark natural wood and earth tones. Finally, consider Last Man Standing, 2011 – present. Their kitchen has wood that is closer to its natural tone, and walls that are in the blue grey range.
These distinctions are important to notice. Imagine if you turned on Last Man Standing and the cast was in the kitchen from the Brady Bunch. It wouldn’t look right to you. What if you wanted to buy a home, but it was sporting a kitchen that was caught in the 1980s. You would immediately begin to factor in how much it would cost to update the kitchen before you decided whether to buy the house or not. Some people would just take one look and walk away.
Ministry media, in its various forms, is the same way as the color of a kitchen. People make a lot of decisions without ever consciously realizing it. Color choices, font choices, the ease of use of our media, relevance to contemporary culture, and our overall aesthetic can lead people to accept or reject us almost instantaneously. I may be the best preacher in the history of preaching, or my para-church ministry may be the hottest thing since sliced bread, but I need to understand that people look at the packaging and make an up or down decision before they ever open the box and see what is inside. After all, a great cover will sell a crummy book.
Here are 7 ideas to consider.
1) Either get a qualified volunteer with proven marketing success, or hire a marketing firm to help you with your ministry’s outward image.
2) Do not simply make decisions about media based on your preferences. Would you rather have a logo for your ministry that everybody loved but you hated, or a logo for your ministry that you loved but others found unappealing? Hint. Choose the former.
3) Have one consistent aesthetic that you employ media wide; same look, same feel, same colors, same kinds of imagery. That detail creates good impressions and positive feelings.
4) Remember that there is a psychology to colors. Choose wisely. Hint. Orange is a bold choice that is only preferred by a very small percentage of people. A significant number of people are repulsed by it. Use it as an accent or in combination with blue.
5) When you finish developing a brochure, a website, a logo, or an overall anesthetic, mark your calendar for two years from the completion date with the following message, “update insert project name here.” Even your expensive promo video? Yes, it is probably only good for 3 or 4 years at the most.
6) Only the Bible is sacred. Everything else is in flux. Anything that turns people off to your media product or ministry must be changed or removed even if it is the name of your entire organization. Anything that encourages people or draws them to your media product, whether you like that thing or not, should be used as often as possible. Everything else must die! No mercy!
7) Ask for help. Listen to the help! It is OK to not have all the answers. It is not OK to think that you do. There is wisdom in the counsel of good advisors.