How we do church has changed dramatically in 2020.
In March, our world got turned upside down thanks to COVID-19. Within days, we've had to shut our church doors to the public, figure out how to livestream, and engage with our congregations online. For churches that already had a strong online presence, it probably wasn't too difficult. But, for the average church, things were rocky at best. Since then, we've had to kick things into overdrive with how we approach ministry digitally.
While the old way of how we "did CHURCH" has changed thanks to the epidemic, God is still at work. If you agree with us, you're probably hoping that things don't go back to the way they were--and frankly--if you don't think that yet, you should.
Going digital has actually forced our congregations to engage on a more personal level. My church, Victory Church of Saskatoon, for example, has started meeting in homes, and we watch a live service online. It has made us come closer, and reflect the church as seen in the book of Acts. Many other churches have taken different approaches; The Moose Jaw Victory Church's youth and young adults groups met on Zoom, and constant rooms were open--allowing them to become even closer. Central Assembly of God in Great Falls, Montana decided to do more things outdoors (it's Montana, for crying out loud), and met in small groups on hiking trails and campsites.
However, no matter what, we've had to learn how to engage online with our people. We've had to try to maintain the spiritual health of our churches, while also learning how to post on Facebook, make crazy cool Instagram posts, and constantly give out COVID-19 announcements to people through email, social media, and phone calls.
If you're like most pastors, you're probably trying to keep things running.
Trying to learn how to have a strong digital brand is a challenge. You might even be asking, "why do I even need to focus online? Things will go back to normal soon."
Like what was said earlier: things most likely will never go back to normal. Digital is permanently in. That doesn't mean that we'll never be in person at church again. Frankly, I hope that we can meet in person. There's nothing like worshipping Jesus together as a congregation.
However, even before COVID-19, having a digital presence was more and more a mainstay in ministry, and this year just sent the progression towards the internet into overdrive.
Alright, so let's be clear. It's a good idea to have a strong brand for your church now.
There are hundreds of thousands of churches going online now. They're all trying to do the same thing:
- Communicate with their congregations
- Reach the lost in their communities
We're in ministry--so of course there's no competition. However, Google and Facebook algorithms need to be mastered in order to get word out--just like mailing lists through postal services and trying to get flyers to the public were an art as well. Advertising isn't just something businesses do--churches have to do the same thing, we just have a different mission: to go out amongst the nations and proclaim the Good News.
There's a few things that you should be doing--and it doesn't necessarily have to be expensive--at least not at first.
1) Have a unique logo.
For some reason, every church on earth wants to have the same logo. It usually has a cross (for good reason, of course), a hill, fire, or a simple church building with a cross on top. Or, if you're especially comical, maybe it's a church building on fire--and it's on top of a hill. Kidding.
This is where consulting with a branding agency would be a great idea, but if that's something that's outside your budget--then just look at what is unique to your community. For us, we're in Saskatoon. People usually think of prairie, farmland, wheat, and the South Saskatchewan River. So it's a no-brainer that churches in our community have this as many of their logos (if they even have one). However, Saskatoon also is known as the bridge city, so a bridge logo might not be a bad idea!
Furthermore, having clear typography in a logo isn't bad either. Simply having your church's name could be a solution, especially if it's unique.
2) Have a GOOD website.
Please. Please. Please! DO NOT have the teenager or volunteer in your congregation make you a website on Wix or Weebly. JUST DON'T. In 2020, your website is your front door to your church's online presence. Everyone who's interested in your church will visit the website first. Unless the volunteer in your congregation is a professional website designer/developer, they have no business creating your website. It's like hiring the little old lady to design an addition to the church building. Unless she's a licensed architect, why on earth would you do it?!
Your website is your front-door to the church. I had to say it again in bold.
Also, as another side note, Facebook does NOT count as a website. Many people think it does, but Facebook complements your website, not takes the place of it. Social media should always be used to point people to your website, not the other way around.
3) Be consistent with your typography and colours.
You shouldn't use green one day, and then decide to use purple the next. Random colours doesn't help brand cohesion. We as people like consistency with brands we associate with. Yes, your church is a brand.
To maintain brand cohesion, only use three to five colours for EVERYTHING. Never deviate from this. Not even different shades of the same colour. Second, only use two different fonts. And, as a side note, comic sans should NEVER be used. Use serif and sans serif fonts. For a guide on fonts, read this article.
4) Post on social media consistently.
Three days per week should be the minimum for a church. Social media posts should always be checked grammatically as well. If you aren't great at spelling, ask someone to spell check for you.
For Bible College graduates and/or theologians, refrain from being too lengthy or technical with your writing. Remember, your congregation is made up of many different types of people from many different backgrounds. Mentioning words like ecclesiology or eschatology might throw them off. It's cool to talk about these topics, but remember your audience.
And REMEMBER RULE #3. Be consistent with your typography and fonts.
Some great tools for making quick social media posts is Canva or Adobe Spark. We prefer Spark, but we typically make our posts on Adobe illustrator, which is much more technical.
And realize your limitations. Don't try to design motion graphics unless you know what you're doing. Burn out is a real thing!
5) Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Talk to a graphic designer in your community. Or reach out to a web designer.
Also, don't forget about us. We're a business, but we're made up of people in ministry as well. Two of the people in our team are pastors, and our network has many people in church ministry. We are here to share our knowledge and help. Don't be afraid of cost. Phone call advice is free, and we simply want to help.