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5 tips to work smart in creative ministry

You’ve probably heard the old saying “work smart, not hard”. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of that phrase. We should work hard. God tells us to work hard (Col 3:23). But in a church, where we probably have limited time, limited resources, limited staff, limited skill sets, limited experience…(you get the idea…), we may not have the luxury of being able to work as hard as we want to. Which is why we’ve put together these 5 tips that will help you towork smart, as you undoubtedly work hard in your ministry to Jesus and his church.

1. Don’t reinvent the wheel

It’s a nice idea to want to create everything from scratch; your graphics, your brochures, your website, your video sequence titles, etc. But for many churches, it’s neither practical nor sensible. In an age where we have such easy, vast, cheap access to high quality templates, it often doesn’t make sense to spend so much of your time creating new content, when you could save time, use a template, and invest more hours elsewhere. When it comes to templates for everything, Envato is your friend! Find high quality InDesign templates, vectors, graphic layouts, video templates and more. Need a quick slide, Instagram Post, Facebook Graphic or poster? Use a free Canva template. For Christian-specific graphics, a subscription to Graceway Media will give you a huge collection of quality slides, graphics and Photoshop files which can be customised for your specific purposes. Next time you need to make a graphic, brochure, slide or video, start with a quick Google search to see if you can find a free or cheap template to give you a head start, leaving you with more time at the end to contribute to other ministry work (or to give you some rest!!)

2. It’s okay to say “that’s too hard”

Sometimes you may sometimes find yourself receiving very specific requests for media/graphic design. If you have the skills, the software, the time and the ability to complete that request — go for it! But for the volunteer, or for the office jack-of-all-trades with a full schedule and a long to-do list, it’s absolutely okay to say: “That request is going to take a long time to complete, time that could be better spent elsewhere. Can I suggest some alternate options that are more efficient, more straightforward, or more suited to the resources, skills, software or timeframe available to us?” For the sake of the other ministies in your church, it’s okay to not complete a task exactly the way you were first asked.

3. Think ahead

Prepare your graphics and media with the future in mind. If you’re creating a brochure now that will also need to be a 16:9 slide later, what can you do in the design process to make the size conversion easier? Thick margins? A background image larger than your canvas size? If you’re designing artwork for an event that is going to happen every year, perhaps you can save yourself time in the future by using a design or concept that can be used over and over again, rather than a “one time thing”. Think ahead so the time you invest nowwill save you time in the long-run.

4. Major on the majors, minor on the minors

When it comes to church creative design, some things are going to be more important than others. Key projects like your church’s logo, website, signage and Welcome Packs warrant more time than “one-off projects” like an announcement video that will only be shown once, or an event for a very specific target-audience. Although we should strive for excellence in all we do, we need to be sensible with the time demands associated with a particular project. Think carefully about the importance and frequency of what you’re working on. If it’s major, then major on it. If it’s minor, minor on it. Simple!

5. Think opportunity vs. cost

Everything we do comes at a cost. Maybe not a financial cost, but our time is valuable, especially in ministry. Consider the cost of the project you’re undertaking, and decide whether that cost is worth the opportunity your project presents. If it’s a big opportunity (like an evangelistic event where others will hear about Jesus, or a church-wide initiative where you want to rally everyone together for a specific purpose, or a brochure to explain to new people how you intend to care for their children in Sunday School), then it’s worth a big cost (mainly, the time-cost associated with putting the project together). If the opportunity is small, don’t let it cost you a lot. Choose the amount of time you’re going to invest in a project (i.e., its cost), based on the opportunities it presents, and stick to it! Don’t let low-opportunity projects become high-cost initiatives!

Laura Hurley

Laura's favourite way to spend her time is to hang out with her husband and crazy-cute son Ethan at hipster cafes, but also finds time to work in a communications, design and events role at her local church where her husband is a pastor. She works for Gospel Powered as a Blogger, Equip Writer and Social Media Manager. She also dabbles in photography, baking and binge-watching crime drama TV shows.
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