Printed Promotional Materials
The local printer is one of the church’s most effective allies in its task of promotion. By conscientiously using the printed word, the church can magnify its outreach with the gospel. In this chapter a few of the printed materials available to the church will be discussed.
The Introductory Brochure
Any time that a manufacturer brings out a new product for the market, he also brings out a brochure or flier to introduce this item to the potential consumer. Such introductory brochures will usually contain a picture of the new product or at least a drawing; they will describe the item in detail, explain its function, elaborate on its value to the consumer, and list the places where the item can be purchased. These brochures are expensive to design, to print, and to distribute. Without them, however, the new item would not sell. Brochures are handed out at demonstrations and exhibits, offered free to those answering newspaper and magazine ads, and mailed to all potential buyers. Advertisements create interest, but it is the brochure or the actual demonstration (brought about in most cases by the brochure) that finally sells the new product.
The church needs to take advantage of this kind of publicity. Many of our promotional efforts create interest, but a brochure about the church can do as much or more to influence a prospect for the church than anything else we can do, other than personal visitation.
Before we can design a brochure, we must plan for its content. A consideration of the commercial type of introductory brochure and an evaluation of various church brochures might lead us to include the following five items:
1. Pictures. Since a church is in reality the people that worship in a building and not the building itself, we have a small problem in seeking to picture the church in our brochure. Our one desire is to get new people to come to the building and worship there. The building thus becomes a focal point for our effort, and for this reason its picture should grace our introductory brochure. Since many buildings are not photogenic because of wires, trees, and utility poles, a pen-and-ink drawing may produce better results. If the church building is photogenic, an excellent use can be made of color.
2. Doctrine. While a business describes its products or services in detail, a church should explain its belief or doctrines. Most church groups have a special historic purpose or plea, and this is a good place to set it forth. Also, the average potential member is interested in what the church feels is required to “become a member” or to “obey the gospel.” By stating its beliefs, the church takes advantage of another opportunity to preach the gospel.
3. Services. One of the most important items of an introductory brochure should be the time for the services. The brochure is an ideal place for these listings because it can be kept for easy reference. Also, all of the different services of the church and its programs, such as graded worship services and nurseries, can be mentioned.
4. Minister. Since the minister is the key man between the nonmember and the local church, he should be introduced in the brochure. In addition to his photograph, it might be well to list his phone number and address as well as those of the church. Summarize his experiences or background, and include a brief statement of his desire to be of service. Some members may feel that the possible revisions required in using the minister’s picture will be too much bother and too expensive, but the brochure will need revising from time to time anyway.
5. Location. The location of the church is a very important factor. This can be stated, or explanations about the location can be given. The best method is to use a simple drawing of a map, marking clearly the church’s location.
The style or format used for the introductory brochure can vary greatly. Many churches use a sheet of paper eight and one-half by eleven inches. This can be folded in thirds to make a six-page leaflet with the picture of the building on the front and the map on the back when folded. Others use it folded like a bulletin, or like a letter. An advantage of folding it in thirds is that it fits neatly into a regular business envelope for mailing.
A longer sheet of paper can be made into a four-section or eight-page brochure. A shorter sheet can be used for a two-section or four-page brochure. This smaller size is easy to carry in a purse or the inside coat pocket of a man’s suit.
A postcard-folder type of brochure could be used in addition to the regular introductory brochure. The best place to get one printed would no doubt be a local or area printer equipped to do such work. A look through the postcard rack in a local drugstore or tourist stop will usually reveal the address of such a printer on the back of a card that advertises an area attraction.
Manufacturers use every means available in distributing their introductory brochures, and the church should be no different. The opportunities for circulating these brochures are numerous.
The main cost in having printing done is for the first thousand. After that the cost per thousand drops sharply. A small church ordering a thousand will have many extra brochures, but these can be used in a general introductory mailing to all of the families in the town or community. Another good way to distribute these brochures is through tract racks in public places. The brochures can also be placed in a rack in the rear of the church. One of the best ways to pass out these brochures is through personal contact with new people by the minister and the other church members.
Gather together some brochures from other churches and from various commercial concerns. Missionary brochures are another good source of ideas. Add to these your own ideas, and work out a brochure for the church with which you work. When you get these brochures, work hard to distribute them, and in so doing you will promote the church and preach the gospel.
The art of the “quick draw” as known on the American frontier is almost a thing of the past. Only a few gun collectors and television cowboys are keeping it alive. In Japan, the missionaries say that the “quick draw” is experiencing a new revival. Of course, the Japanese are not using the single-action Colt .44 of the American West ; they are using the modern business card as a means of introducing themselves. Many of the Japanese have developed a “lightning draw.”
Not only do these cards play an important role in introducing one’s self in Japan, but we can see the value our own American businessmen place on them. For example, consider the person who visits a department store and looks at an item in which he is interested. If he is able to get away without purchasing the item, it is likely that he will not get away without the salesman’s business card. This is one of the salesman’s means of continuing his personal sales pitch even after you have left the store. His hope is that you will come back and buy the item from him. This same type of card can also be of great value to the minister and the church.
As a Calling Card
No doubt the most popular usage of the business card among ministers is as a calling card. It is possible for a minister to spend a full evening or even an entire afternoon out calling and fail to make even one contact. Also, if he fails to catch people at home when he has promised to call, it may upset them. In most cases these people will not consider the possibility of what actually happened—that he was there during the few minutes they were next door or down the hall visiting in another apartment. A calling card can make such a missed visit much more productive. The people then know at least that the minister cared enough to try.
What should such a business card for a minister contain’? Here are some suggestions: (1) His name should appear prominently, since this will be used as his personal calling card. If the church desires to have a card for all who are calling on its behalf, they should print a number of cards leaving a blank for the caller’s name. Either way the church should purchase the cards. (2) The name of the church and its complete address and location should be listed. Some calling cards give only a post office box, and that is of little help to the individual seeking the place of worship. (3) The last of the essential items are the telephone numbers of the church office and the minister’s residence. Some ministers feel that the cards should also include the address of their residence.
More Than a Calling Card
Neither the content of the business card nor its uses are limited to the ideas just discussed. These cards can be just as versatile as one can imagine or desire. It would be time well spent if the church and the minister were to give some additional thought to possible uses of business cards in their community.
As mentioned before, we could well take a lesson from the Japanese. The average person does not remember the name of an individual to whom he is introduced, but if he were handed a business card during the introduction, he would at least have the name before him. Also, this closes any communication gaps caused by poor diction on the part of the one making the introduction, room noises, distractions, or poor hearing. By receiving a card, the individual is in a much better position to make contact again if desired. Our basic aim is to help him come into contact with the church. How else are we going to reach him for Christ?
Several churches publish billfold-size calendars each year and utilize that means of keeping their name before the public. A church could put a small map on the back of their business cards or a small pen-and-ink drawing of their building.
How is your “quick draw” when it comes to a calling card? The minister or anyone else calling on behalf of the church should have a “lightning draw” and should be as free with that draw as a politician running for office. We evangelize by promoting the church, and we promote the church by using business cards.
Church directories have a vital role to play in the promotional activities of a local church. A directory can deal with the membership in the local church, with the churches of one faith in a given area, or with all of the religious groups in a community. Regardless of the area they cover, directories help to inform interested persons about the workings of the church. They also help newcomers, visitors, and tourists to take advantage of the services offered by the local church, ultimately in many cases adding to the kingdom of God.
Intrachurch directories, or directories of the local church membership, are becoming more and more popular They are a great help in keeping the local membership active. Naturally, the more members of a church that are active, the greater should be the outreach.
One of the first tasks of a new minister should be to work out a current directory of the local congregation, if there is not already one available. There are several reasons why this project should receive high priority:
(1) Such a list is normally in existence, but so often it is greatly out-of-date. It often happens that, early in his ministry a minister will send out a mailing to the entire membership, only to have several letters come back because of wrong addresses. A current list of the membership will give the minister and other church leaders an instant reference to the correct addresses, phone numbers, family memberships, and the church relationship of each family member. The directory may also include the place of employment, birth date, and talents of each family member.
(2) An expanded directory, if revised each year, can be used for keeping before the people a record of the church services, the names of elders and deacons and committee heads, the church budget, the missionary program, and the local religious education program.
(3) The church directory can also assist the new minister in becoming acquainted with the entire membership. He can prepare the directory at the same time that he sets up a filing system for the membership. Using either the Membership Shepherding Plan (8470) or the Church. Asysta-Magic system (8412), he can prepare records for each member in the church. This will probably require a visit to each family in the church in order to verify or correct and complete the information.
After gathering and verifying the information, the minister will be able to prepare a directory for the total membership. This can be mimeographed or printed. A printed directory could also include pictures of each family. With the use of a directory, everyone in the church can come to know one another.
Churches of one faith in an area can collaborate in publishing a directory. This is useful to newcomers and visitors to the churches in a given city, area, or state. Such a directory can also be a great help to the minister in working with other churches in his area.
One very attractive example of this type of directory is produced by churches in the area of the nation’s capitol. Handsomely printed, it includes a map of the greater Washington area, with each church noted on the back cover. The greater Oklahoma City area Christian churches did a one-sheet mailing at one time. This included a list of the area churches and a simple map designating locations. A postcard was enclosed to enable recipients to send information about people they knew who were living in the area.
Usually each religious fellowship in the nation has a directory that lists all of the churches and agencies of that group. This can be a great help on the national level.
One of the most common but possibly least used interchurch directories is the “yellow pages” section of the telephone book. If each church in a community would take care to list its own number, an effective directory would be available to anyone desiring it.
In many cases the better interdenominational directories are worked out through the cooperation of the local chamber of commerce. The Dodge City Chamber of Commerce, for example, has published a map of its city with the principal buildings and all of the churches listed. A place mat type of map showing principal places and the churches of the community could probably be provided by either the chamber of commerce or the local ministers’ organization. These ideas can be used very effectively through the motels, restaurants, gas stations, and tourist points to reach the visitors in the area.
Area churches can also collaborate in producing a list of churches to assist visitors and other interested persons. This list could be posted in the local hospital, or printed in a brochure for greater distribution. This is one type of outreach that almost has to be done by a united effort.
Literature Distribution Centers
Most of us have at some time visited a hobby show. Whether it was for home and garden, automobiles, outdoor sports, or some other feature, it provided a colorful and enjoyable period of recreation. Yet, only half the fun was in the show itself. The other half was in reading the literature distributed at these shows. When a person browses at the different booths, he is handed more pamphlets than he has room to carry. The distributor knows it is much easier to sell camping gear or boats to the viewer as he sits in front of a warm, crackling fireplace dreaming of the coming outdoor season and reading the brochures than it is in the milling crowd of an outdoor show. By using this same principle, in the form of a literature distribution center, the church also can sell people on their need for Jesus Christ. Give them something worthwhile to read, and add directions to the church building.
Using a Tract Rack
The construction and maintenance of a literature rack would be a good project to give to the youth of the church when they ask that question every youth group is going to ask sooner or later : “What can we do?” Great numbers of people are almost always to be found in certain public places, such as railroad stations, airports, bus terminals, hotel lobbies, doctors’ reception rooms, cafeterias, and some stores and libraries. While waiting they will read religious literature there that they would not read elsewhere.
The work of a literature distribution center need not and should not stop with solely distributing literature. By using a neat rack and placing a good black and white or color photo of the church building on it, you can make the literature rack a working calling card for the church. The use of a small map and the giving of clear directions along with a listing of services, will make the rack an informational and directional sign for the church. The map could also be printed on the back of calling cards or brochures left in a holder on the rack. There are still many people who would rather worship than sit alone in a crowded terminal between buses, trains, or planes. The church could also list its telephone number and give instructions to those wishing a ride to phone for it, or the card or brochure could indicate which local bus to take.
After it has been decided who is going to be in charge of the tract racks, the next thing to do is to select about four good tracts. This should be done with the assistance of the minister and the elders as well as the sponsor or leader of the group preparing the literature centers. After the tracts have been selected, design the rack to fit.
Making the Tract Rack
There are three basic types of racks. The first is commercially made of sheet metal, the second is wood, and the third is pegboard.
1. Commercial. These racks, made of light sheet metal or wire, may be purchased from many church supply stores or publishing houses. Several printing companies also sell these along with their tracts.
2. Wooden. Wooden racks can be made by a local cabinetmaker or an amateur carpenter within the church. Each builder should use his own ideas to make his rack original. He may make it out of any material from pressboard to plywood. Each rack should be just wide enough to hold the tracts and their dividers. The tract pockets should be about half as deep as the tract. Constructing the pockets in this manner will make it possible to leave the title in full view. Each pocket should hold ten to twenty tracts. The rest of the rack’s back piece should be made so as to leave ample space for further publicity for the church sponsoring the rack.
3. Pegboard. Literature racks made from pegboard should follow the basic styles of wooden racks. Because of its peculiar makeup pegboard requires special wire holders to be used in place of the wooden pockets. The same effect can be achieved by drilling holes in a wooden rack. These wire holders leave the entire face of the tract in view. Thus, colorful and attractive tracts are put to their best use. A pegboard rack may be made to hold appropriate paperback books by attaching proper brackets for the shelf to keep the books from falling sideways. A small container may be attached, as on a newspaper rack, to receive the money for the books. The use of even larger racks will make it possible to include religious magazines in the display. A rack made of pegboard should have a neat, wooden molding around the edge, and it may be painted with two or three light coats. It is best to spray paint both sides, the back and then the front each time to keep the paint neat. The pegboard rack must also be set at least half, an inch away from any wall so the brackets may be changed. One great advantage of using this type of board is that the format may be changed with little work.
The following illustration shows the plans for a typical tract rack. In place of the wooden pockets, wire holders could be used by drilling holes for them. A picture frame is used here in place of wooden molding.
Placing the Tract Rack
The leader of the group in charge of the literature distribution centers should secure one rack, either purchased or constructed, for a sample. Use this sample to convince the people in charge on the whole idea. They will then decide where to place the racks. After the permits for placement have been received, all needed racks should be secured. Be sure to assign someone to keep the racks filled, which requires a constant check on them, at least twice a week. After a rack has been placed, a thank-you letter is always in order. The people letting you put racks up are doing you a favor, and they should be treated accordingly.
The principles that apply to the public tract rack may also be applied to the in-church tract rack. A good idea is to use a master rack holding nothing but tracts, then to use smaller racks throughout the church at the most effective places. Frequently replace the local church information on the rack and emphasize the rack’s contents. If the information pertains to missions, use the missionary’s picture or a picture of the mission. If the emphasis is evangelism, use a poster encouraging personal evangelism. If stewardship is being stressed, show in a divided coin form a breakdown of the dollar spent by the local church.
Whether in the church or a public place, the tract rack can serve the church as an effective calling card by attracting the public’s attention to its contents. Every church should make an effort to use this method of publicity and evangelism.
Questions for Discussion
1. What items should an introductory brochure contain?
2. List some possible methods of distributing a brochure.
3. What are some advantages of using business cards in contacts for the church?
4. Describe the various types of church directories in existence.
5. List some possible locations in your community where a tract rack might be placed.
6. Discuss the relative merits of the three different types of tract racks.
The article “Printed Promotional Materials” written by T.R. Edwards was excerpted from Publicize Your Church, 1993.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”