HOW DO YOU SAY HELLO
BY ROBERT C. SCREEN
As the old saying goes, “You never have a second chance for a first impression.” Here’s a suggestion on how to positively introduce your church, its people, and its ministry to the unchurched people in your community. A good, upbeat, first impression piece can help build a positive image in the minds of the people in your ministry area about your church.
FIRST, SOME OBSERVATIONS
The piece should be designed for use in a variety of ways-direct mailing to homes, hand outs at church services, distribution through local businesses, presentation by church members to friends.
Say “hello” more than once. The church needs a continuing program of sharing information with the people in the community.
All communication from your church to unchurched people should emphasize your desire to do something for them, not for them to do something for you.
The more you know about the needs and concerns of people in your community, the more effective you will be in describing your services in a way that will generate interest and meet needs.
Be careful to use language and graphic illustrations that are familiar to the unchurched. The spiritual commitment and motivation of the church, and its members, should be clearly demonstrated by the nature of the activities described. Likewise, comments of members quoted in articles should relate the meaning and the reality of their Christian faith to every day life.
Here’s a format suggestion chosen for its economy, readability, use of photographs, and flexibility in handling a variety of information.
I suggest a tabloid format, approximately 11xl7 inches (page size) with 4 to 12 pages. About 40 percent of the space should be used for lots of good quality photos of people of all ages, enjoying various church activities. Each photo should be captioned, noting who it is and what’s going on, why it’s an enjoyable or beneficial activity to those involved, and when and where anyone interested could get involved. Articles should be short (300 words or less) with a good headline that tells, in a few words, something about the most compelling asset of the subject discussed.
The brochure can be reprinted once a year with updated copy and photos. Mail each issue to every home in the community using a non-profit bulk rate postal permit. Print enough extra copies to give to visitors throughout the year and leave in office, stores, and shops in your community. Give a copy to every adult and young person in the church.
SOME ITEMS WHICH SHOULD BE INCLUDED
A simple map showing the church location. Also a map of the church facilities, accompanied by a list of regular events and meeting places.
Address and phone number of the church.
A warm, friendly “welcome” by the pastor which expresses his sincere interest in the reader, and the desire of the church to be a loving, caring, supportive community of faith.
Staff photos and description of their responsibilities.
Description of programs and activities for each age and interest group.
First person stories of what people are finding meaningful about the church and their faith.
Photo of your sanctuary full of people participating in the worship service. Photos and descriptions of the church’s services to the community, such as child care, schools, meals-on-wheels, day care, transportation services, counseling, etc.
A short article titled “Here’s How to Get Involved” with specific suggestions on who to contact or what to do for different age groups, families, singles, etc.
A schedule of Sunday morning and other weekly activities.
An invitation to join in any of the church’s activities that are of interest, along with an offer of personal help and assistance from the church staff whenever desired.
Form a communications task force from people in the church with the following skills: editor, writer, artist for design and layout, photographer, and someone with good administrative ability. If all the right people aren’t available in your church fellowship, try to hire needed help on a project basis for a prearranged fee. Often the first issue is the most difficult, and more people will be found to help on subsequent issues.
Look for a printer that does this type and size of publication regularly on high durability newsprint or offset paper. Check with the publisher of your local community paper. He may be able to print it for you, or give you leads on who could. Get two or more prices to find out who can print it most economically.
It’s best to print your non-profit permit on the brochure and leave room for a mailing label. This will save the expense of a mailing envelope. Be sure to check with a knowledgeable person about the size and location of the label area and the meeting of postal requirements.
Check with a local lettershop or mailing service for the best local source of a mailing list to residents of houses and apartments in your area. An occupant list is fine for a mailing like this. Rent the address list for one time use, and the addresses will be supplied on mailing labels.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Tell everybody in your community what’s happening in your church for them. Show what it means to the people who are involved and tell them in a compelling way, so that they too might discover the meaning of Christian fellowship and faith in God.