Church Design Basics

Church Design Basics

February 25, 2013 by

Each year on Creative Missions, we meet with churches who have little knowledge of church communications, few resources to accomplish communications, or both little knowledge and few resources.  I’m grateful I get to be a part of the process for these churches in the area of design. I’m blessed by the conversations we have with these pastors and volunteers on how effective communication pieces (and everything is a communication piece) helps them reach their congregations and communities. Through those conversations, we end up exploring and creating in areas of branding and identity, sermon branding, and promotions and advertising.

Branding & Identity
Your church’s brand is the visual representation of your identity, vision and mission. Meaning a church should have a clear vision of who they are and who they are trying to reach before even thinking of putting pen to paper on a logo and other design elements. So stop. Go do that before you read further. (Need help? We’ve talked a bit about brand and identity.)

Ready? Good. When creating your church’s “look-n-feel,” be current yet sustainable. Don’t chase cool, don’t out-trend yourself. Once it’s created and implemented, be consistent. Consistency tells people you are trustworthy and not flaky. I was a part of a church that had three different logos in two years. Were we going through an identity crisis? Yep.

Branding Resources: This isn’t even a scratch on the surface of church branding. To go a little deeper, check out Outspoken for more thoughts and practices. And here are some more helpful sites:

Sermon/Message Branding
Matt Papa, a worship leader at the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., says that a song is more than just lyrics and melody but it’s a sermon for people to remember. I echo this on sermon and message branding. Your pastor spends his week planning a message that hopefully proclaims truth and the gospel and then presents that message each weekend. By creating a look for a sermon series, you can give people something to hold on to after the message. Sermon branding is the time to be edgy and trendy. Be intriguing and compelling. Go all out.

Sermon Branding Resources: Here are some sites that have free resources and inspiration for planning and creating the look of your next sermon series:

Promotions & Advertising (a.k.a The Kitchen Sink)
As church communicators, we’re responsible for getting the tedious details of every event, devotional, weekly meeting, pastors’ blogs and message to the masses. Sometimes this comes in the form of a bulletin, a webpage, an announcement screen, a tweet, etc. I call this “promotions”—anything you need to promote “inside” the church to the congregation. Then there is advertising—anything you want the community to know outside the church. This can come in the form of a billboard, Facebook ad, newspaper ad, flyer, invite card, etc. In either case, designing something that is clear and attractive is a must. But remember when everything is important, nothing is important. Choose what you promote and advertise wisely. Don’t over design. The information on the page is still more important than the design. Help lead people through what you want them to know with the design. Don’t hide the information in the design.

Marketing Resources: Eric Murrell wrote Media Bleep articles last year on internal marketing and external marketing.

I hope this was helpful to anyone starting out in church communications. Design is a powerful tool and I believe God wants us to use our gifts for his glory and to partner with him in building his church.

We’re thrilled to partner with Creative Missions (our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, handles the Creative Missions finances). Learn more about Creative Missions and this year’s trip to Alaska and consider a financial donation to help church communicators help other churches communicate better.

For more helpful tips like this, check out Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a booklet of articles by Creative Missions alumni offering a crash course in church marketing basics.

Post By:

Laura Bennett

Laura is a Georgia girl living in Chapel Hill, N.C., as a freelance graphic designer and communications consultant. She has served as communications director at The Fellowship (formerly Two Rivers Baptist Church) and is a Creative Missions alum.
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5 Responses to “Church Design Basics”

  • Church Motion Graphics
    February 25, 2013

    How about worship media that can help develop environments and support your brand?

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  • David Pohlmeier
    February 25, 2013

    Great post Laura. With every church I begin a branding project for, I tell them to be themselves. Too often, a church comes to me and says, “we want to be like (insert name of any hip mega-church).” The reality is, a small congregation in northern Montana can still have a great brand and identity that will reflect who they are. I’ve always felt it’s important from the start to be yourself and have looked at that as one of the basics of church design. Long term, for that particular congregation, the project and the brand will be a greater success.

    I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence!

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    • Laura Bennett
      February 25, 2013

      Absolutely! It’s a tough process getting that through to some pastors but once they find out who their church and community are, they can own the brand/identity with confidence.

      Thanks for reading, David!

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  • matt adams
    February 25, 2013

    Great post laura!

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  • David Heys
    February 27, 2013

    We’re right at the design stage of a rebranding exercise at the moment. Thankfully, the values, goals and mission is identified and defined already. We have a new Team Leader Minister starting June and we’re just entering a complete rebuild phase – on our current site – so this will be an interesting three years ahead especially for me as the comms dept. leader!

    Love the article and grateful for the advise Laura.

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