Creating a Church Style Guide, Part 1

June 11, 2008 by

This is part one of an irregular and indefinite journey. Follow Associate Editor Joshua Cody as he works to get a style guide together for his church.

There are probably plenty of you out there who have endeavored to create a style guide for your church. Maybe everyone was using different language to describe things, making tons of grammatical errors or just doing whatever they wanted when communicating. For anyone who either has or wants to get their church going with a style guide, I’d like to quasi-live-blog my progress in creating one.

Lots of people have things working against them—a culture that doesn’t value seamless communication, a senior pastor who isn’t on the same page or a thousand other difficulties. Fortunately, I’m in an organization that values excellence and communication, so I had a head start there. My first place to start was still communicating the need for a style guide. How could I make people who don’t give a lick about grammar care about a style guide?

I found some totally sweet style guides a couple other churches had done. Granger’s is pretty much the grand daddy of them all, so they’re a great place to start. We weren’t looking for something this extensive, but it was a good visual for people to take a look at.

Then, with some help from the Church Marketing Lab, I came up with a plan. You can read the whole thing for a better idea, but essentially I told my church staff a couple stories to show the importance of a strong brand, compared inconsistent theology to inconsistent style and let them know I wouldn’t be a grammar Nazi.

The verdict? Total support.

So from there, I e-mailed the staff with some questions. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with a ton of stuff, so I asked only two:

  • What communication mistakes (grammatical, word choice, etc.) have you seen made most often, especially by new staff?
  • What do you feel would be helpful to include in a style guide for our church so we can communicate cohesively and effectively?

I’ve got some great responses, and I’ve been compiling a simple text file with people’s responses combined with my observations. From here, it’s a matter of organization and implementation, and I’ll be sure to keep you along for the ride.

Check out part 2 of Creating a Church Style Guide.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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7 Responses to “Creating a Church Style Guide, Part 1”

  • Dave
    June 11, 2008

    Cool series. I’m anxious to see how this develops!

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  • Sarah Jo
    June 11, 2008

    I am really excited about this series! I’m a tech writer by training, and I created a style guide for our church while I was in school, but I was really the only one who used it. I’m anxious to hear how you spread the joy of the style guide to your leadership.

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  • Matt Kirkland
    June 11, 2008

    Showing examples of how it can go wrong and right is a great strategy; can’t wait to read the rest of the irregular series, Josh.

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  • Hugh Griffiths
    June 16, 2008

    Creating guidelines is a superb approach to help manage communications. Not only does it help shape the content, it is essential for creating the consistency necessary to build an effective brand.
    Not always easy to compile a single document but I’ve issued ours in installments to avoid overload and build learning gradually as new communication products are used.
    You can check out a simple example here

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  • Chris Stewart
    July 6, 2008

    I’m really looking forward to the next installment of this series as I am about to embark on this effort at our church. Meetings begin July 20….pray for us!

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  • Sheila Branscombe
    July 7, 2008

    Great idea! I’m always circling the errors (and the words that are no longer relevant in the 21st century). Let me know if I can help in any way.

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