FIND A GOOD FONT AND USE IT A LOT. I am a geek when it comes to fonts. I am the guy that enjoys driving down roads and telling my wife what I think a certain font is that they are using. In fact this past week I discovered a new store I wanted to go into simply because the font the store used was one of my favorite fonts. I think it is a good idea to find one clean sans serif font and use it for your entire ministry related headers and titles. Mars Hill is a great example of using one font for everything they use. A good font can be a stand-alone logo like The Village Church where they only bold the word Village to make it stand out. Find a good font and run with it. Check out Dafont.com and Losttype.com for free fonts that you can use. At the end of the day, Helvetica has stood the test of time of being a great font to use. The government still uses it for all its government signs, and the font is one of the most popular around. You see it everywhere! League Gothic and Century Gothic are some other of my favorites. I am obsessed with Novecento and Gotham at the moment. Those two fonts are in everything I have been making lately.

USE YOUR PHONE.

Your phone is amazingly powerful. Phones have changed the way we take pictures. 100 years from now they will be looking back and notice that around 2012 everyone’s photos moved from rectangles to squares that all share similar filters. I love the ability of using apps like InstagramPicFrameOverInstaQuoteAfterlight, and InstaPlace to share news about upcoming events, point students to places they need to go, or just ways to interact with students. I also use it to create free stock images. Your phone is better than 90% of the digital cameras in your junk drawer. With the right lighting you can make great stock images for graphics you make create. Use your camera often, sync it with Dropbox, and have fun! There are some good tips by our friends from Stuff You Can Use to make good design with your phone. Check out here and here on how to maximize your phone for good art.

MINIMAL IS NOT LAZY. MINIMAL IS CLEAN.

I read that when designers say “clean and minimal” those are code words for “I don’t have time to do this.” I completely disagree with this. White space and minimalism is current and can create timeless art. The thing I love about minimalism is that the less you clutter up your design, the longevity of that design grows. I think that is why churches love Clover Sites. Most of the templates are minimal and simple. The UI was created in such a way that you can’t screw it up. Besides spelling errors and blurry pictures, it is impossible to have an ugly website if you went with Clover. That is why when I look for WordPress templates, I almost always choose the sites that have tons of white space and simple call to actions. When I make a handout for students I try not to have crazy backgrounds or busy borders (a la every youth curriculum from the 90s) I keep it simple, legible, and big. Your students don’t care if you find some kind of funny or ironic background for your handouts. They don’t care about flashy borders or fluorescent paper. They want whatever you give them. Remember you set the tone for the ministry (more on that in a second). I also like giving handouts on half sheets of paper. This saves paper and forces you to think minimal. You can’t put every detail on the handout. Only what matters. Give your students what matters, not every ounce of details.

STEAL EVERYTHING.

One of the best books on being creative was Steal Like An Artist. This book helped me not only in my design work but in my preaching as well (that is for another post). The book talks about stealing ideas. Not copying ideas which can get you in a lot of trouble and be in messy waters but steal ideas. Stealing an idea means you see something you like in another person’s work, deconstruct it to see all the parts and to get a feel of what the original artist was thinking, and make it your own. Sites like CreationSwap are perfect for this. I will see a font I like or a color scheme I want and go from there. I love looking at other churches bulletins just to see how other churches distribute their information. Stealing is a sin in every other way. Not in design. Stealing is the way good art is created and multiplied. See something you like. Figure out how it was made and make it your own.

YOUR KIDS DON’T REALLY CARE.

When it is all said and done, most of you won’t have kids begging you to share the font you used or asking you what is the weight of the paper you used that night. You set the tone and the feel for the ministry. You can start new traditions and new habits. Students are amazingly resilient. Before I arrived at the ministry I was in, they never had handouts. The idea of handouts felt like school and it was something to doodle on. I cut the paper in half, took up one side for just announcements and information, and the other side had enough space just to write down the answers. Not many paper airplanes or doodles are made after I made these few changes. Your students may not pat you on the back with your amazing design. However, misspelled words, dated looking art, and not having enough space to write in the blanks is all they will ever talk about. When something is of quality; students will appreciate it, leaders above you will take notice, and you will feel better that you created something of substance. If you need help with your design, consider joining our Facebook group just for youth pastors who do church-related media and design.
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10 Comments

  1. Thanks for your last point. I think it's easy to get caught up in some of this stuff. We can get stuck spending hours on design elements, but that time is almost always better spent with a student, pointing directly to Jesus.
  2. Thanks for your last point. I think it's easy to get caught up in some of this stuff. We can get stuck spending hours on design elements, but that time is almost always better spent with a student, pointing directly to Jesus.
  3. Steal everything, that's the part I resonate the most with, and have learned the most from. I create my own images, most of the time, now, but that's after years of using the heck out of sites like Creationshop.
  4. Steal everything, that's the part I resonate the most with, and have learned the most from. I create my own images, most of the time, now, but that's after years of using the heck out of sites like Creationshop.

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