A "seeker-friendly service" involves more than a praise band and upbeat singing. If you really want to reach a variety of people, you may need to change more than the music. Your worship guide or church bulletin may also need some changes.
In recent years many churches have realized that not everyone likes the same sort of music when they worship God. After fussing and fighting for a number of years it seems like churches realize that they don't need to totally change the style of music for the entire church. A much more peaceful and positive response in many churches has been to have different styles of music and worship at various times on Sunday mornings and Saturday night.
In addition to changing the music, if churches are serious about communicating to specific audiences within their churches, the style of communications given to them needs to change also. Many of the announcements and basic messages can be the same, but some modification in design, typeface, illustration style, and some of the content can make a world of difference in communicating effectively to your specific audience.
If you use the same bulletin for everyone, it would be like expecting everybody to get their news from the Wall Street Journal. Some folks prefer the Journal, but others read USA TODAY and others prefer televised news on CNN or social media. The same news is reported each day, but it's modified to the tastes of each audience. The core of your message and the truth of the gospel remain the same but you might want to modify your presentation in terms of your communication styles.
How this might work out in practice
Let's use as an example a church of about 1200, that has a new pastor with a desire to reach his community for Christ. The church has three services, each of which is designed to appeal to a specific group of people. Below are some possible suggestions for church communications for three different kinds of services. First I'll describe the services, the target audience for each one, and then some suggestions for how you might modify the worship guide or bulletin for each one.
The church services:
The 8:00 service is very traditional, designed for folks who have been coming to the church for many years. The service is the one the majority of the senior adults attend.
The 11:00 service is the contemporary service. The worship leader is part of a contemporary Christian rock group and the music includes a drummer, keyboard, guitars and piano where the worship leaders sits and sings. The motto for this service is: the 11th Hour: it's never too late for truth, god and rock and roll.
Yes, the word, "God" is in lower case-that alone offends some of the folks from 8 am, but seems normal to an age group where many music covers have all the words in lower case type and text messaging is all done in lowercase.
The 9:30 service not only meets at an in-between time, but the format of the service is a mixture of traditional and contemporary. It's the service attended primarily by families.
Suggestions for the Bulletin or Worship Guide for each service
8:00: a traditional service needs a traditional bulletin.
Whatever your church has been doing in the past is probably primarily what you'll want to do for these folks. When a church is making lots of other changes in services, times, and music there is no need to change the traditional bulletin just for the sake of making changes.
Some possible modifications:
-Consider using larger type that is easier to read for an audience primarily made up of seniors. 12 point would be the smallest you'd want to use and you might even try 13 or 14 points. A little extra leading (the space between lines) makes text easier to read also.
- A serif typeface, (something like New Times Roman or Cambria) is more traditional in look and will probably be preferred by this audience.
-Don't use too many typefaces or a variety of wild and crazy typefaces for this group.
-Section of prayer requests can be more detailed and is often expected by these people who are often the prayer warriors of the church.
11:00 a contemporary service needs a contemporary bulletin
If the person doing the traditional bulletin doesn't like contemporary, Christian rock music, they may not be the best person to design this bulletin-it helps to love the life-style or at least appreciate it to create publications for it. The inspiration for this bulletin would come from online music covers, publications that appeal to that audience, television channels such as MTV, and the graphic style it uses.
Some possible modifications:
-There are two overall options you could consider for this group. One would be a very colorful look or the other option would be a totally black and white look.
-For either one use lots of images and less words.
-Make the church websites or sections of the web site ea for more information and make the website, Facebook, Twitter or other social networking connections printed on the bulletin.
-Use contemporary typefaces for the majority of the publication. Clean, sans serif faces such as Ariel, Eras, Franklin Gothic (actually any of the "Gothic" styles would work well) or Verdana could work well. Combinations of the regular type with bold have a contemporary look. Many contemporary publications use type at smaller sizes, 9 or 10 points with lots of leading (space between the letters).
-For some groups or advertisements, try the grunge typefaces. These are the typefaces that look like the letters are broken.
-Don't use funky, old-fashioned clip art here. Either use something contemporary like Art Parts, or leave it off altogether. Photographs , especially just a few used more as graphic illustrations can work well with this kind of design.
9:30 a family-oriented service needs a family bulletin
This bulletin or worship guide would probably have lots more information than the others. It's important to remember that the bulletin for this group is key to involving them in additional activities for the church. Also, what you put in this bulletin will let families know how you feel about children at your church.
Some possible modifications:
-In addition to the worship guide or bulletin itself, consider producing a children's bulletin in addition to the one for adults. A fun sheet with Bible games, a place to doodle and perhaps a short lesson, plus a pencil to write with can be a great gift to parents as they come in with their children.
-Be sure to give complete details on all the programs in the church for families.
-For special events, create bulletin inserts designed to be posted on the refrigerator. Many churches now call these mini-billboards, Refrigerator Reminders, because they know for a busy family, if it is on the refrigerator, the family will remember to attend. If the event is just part of a list in a bulletin, it will probably stay in the Bible til next week and the event will be missed.
-For typefaces, Bookman is the classic typeface for children's materials (that's the one the Dick and Jane books were set in), Century is a very easy to read typeface for adults and kids. Comic Sans is a fun face for special events advertisements for kids. A variety of typefaces for different sections or advertisements can work well for this group.
-This would be the bulletin for fun clipart and graphics. Colorful, family oriented pictures of people on the cover would also work well for this group.
There are so many ways you can modify your publications to better serve the various groups you are trying to reach. The above ideas hopefully will serve as inspiration starting points. To figure out what will work for you, observe who attends what service. If possible spend a little time finding out what publications they like to read. Look at them and design your publications in the same style.
Possibly a time to develop a communication team
Yes, it is a lot of work to do different bulletins for each group. This might be an opportunity to recruit and develop a communication team. The members could be volunteers who would take the basic church information and adapt it for each group. From working on the bulletin, the team members might expand to helping create other communications for each group.
If you take the time to do these modifications, it will be one way to illustrate to your people a picture of our caring Lord, who loves each of us individually and who has an individual plan for every life.