I worked as the lead marketing communications person at Pacific Crossroads Church, a medium-sized Presbyterian church in Los Angeles. The church held three services every Sunday at a school and another church’s building, with close to 1,500 people in attendance. And one ministry at Pacific Crossroads coordinated weekly “community groups,” a kind of Bible study in a person’s house. They’d discuss the past week’s sermon and pray together.
In addition to services and community groups, the church had many more ministries and a staff of ~25 leading those areas.
In 2015, the church rebranded and then needed to give a makeover to the Sunday worship handouts. Sunday bulletins (programs) and associated inserts were central to these refreshed designs. This update was more significant than incorporating the new logo and branding; culture and ministry goals needed clear communication.
In addition, a third worship service started a year or so before the rebrand. Some ministry objectives and tactics had changed in keeping up with growth. The materials had out-dated content that needed some TLC.
Users & Audience
Pacific Crossroads had programs that expanded upon the one-day worship experience. This included community groups, volunteering, counseling, family activities, and more. Even with all the various audience types, new and longtime guests received the same worship materials as they arrived.
Roles & Responsibilities
I led the effort to design all the bulletin and supporting materials from start to finish. I began the design process by meeting with the primary stakeholder for each resource. The stakeholders included:
- Pastors: The lead pastor provided a few requirements and approved the use of all materials. Supporting pastors provided feedback or guidance particular to their area of ministry.
- Director of Connection: She made in-person connections with any church guest or member at any phase. They might have had questions, wanted to become involved in church programs, felt timid about the church, or were new to LA and wanted to meet people.
- Director of Volunteers: She advised church guests on how they could volunteer. She ensured all the volunteer activities on Sundays ran well.
- Directors of other ministries: Any person whose responsibilities had a correlation with the resource.
After gathering these initial resource details, I started involving other support-level staff members in those ministries. They informed me about the needs of users and ministries. Oftentimes, they had useful feedback to share with me.
Scope & Constraints
This particular church was slight in comparison to “mega churches”. They had a reduced budgets in comparison to small for-profit companies. Most of the communication/marketing materials necessitated a rapid turnaround. We had a demanding lead pastor with an expectation for quick, effective results.
The other stakeholders were passionate about their work. They desired to make the experience positive for all the church members and guests.
I set up meetings and feedback sessions with ministry directors and pastors. They accepted the challenge of designing materials in the short time frame of about 1-2 weeks. I utilized a robust project management system to set up and share the tasks and timelines. Stakeholders had to share details, set aside reviews, and sign off on final designs.
Process & What I Did
As part of the comprehensive plan, I collaborated with a freelance graphic designer. The bulletin and an insert for it called a “connect card” were our biggest items to redesign.
I first met with the primary stakeholders to discuss their needs, brainstorm any trouble areas, and ideate a few solutions.
In my stakeholder interviews, I learned about their main trouble areas:
- The Volunteer signup caused some confusion about what the opportunities entailed. Some people were checking boxes of opportunities that didn’t exist anymore.
- In the Contact section, we were requesting unnecessary information some guests might have felt was invasive. They were being deterred from filling out even the basic, essential details for follow-up by the Connection team.
- The prayer section (where people could write in requests for pastors to pray for them) was unclear about who would see the details. It was causing concern as well.
- The card’s form was on the opposite page of a section about upcoming events. Due to this design, guests were missing events or needing to contact the church office for more info. They’d turned in the events list with the form! They wanted anyone to be able to keep that list.
Creative brief and design reviews
After confirming design specs with our printer, I developed the creative brief. It included specifications, dimensions, messaging, timeline, and other pertinent details for the designer. I outlined our problems and potential solutions. This included similar forms and design features through an online image search.
The designer and I made some decisions together. Afterwards, I met with stakeholders one-on-one or in small groups in feedback sessions on the mockups. I saved their feedback.
I translated the changes for the designer, and we had a few iterations of the design. After this, I spoke with the support staff members, showing them the design. They provided thoughtful, informed recommendations. Their great insights included examples of interactions with guests, and these anecdotes backed up their views.
Offhand, I also met with various church volunteers as they stopped in the office for choir practice or to drop off homemade cookies for the staff.
Outcomes & Lessons
I discovered that my impromptu meetings were almost always the most valuable. Their willing feedback came from a fresh mindset. They had experienced difficulties with the past versions of the bulletins or the connect cards. They pointed out the problem areas, which had gone unnoticed by myself and others.
With a few minor updates, we had a final product that received excellent feedback in the coming weeks. We received more completed connect cards each week. Some folks told us they were happy to be able to take the events section home to put up on their refrigerators!