This brief blog post exists to frame the one that will follow in a day or two. It will be a tutorial to use newly-released features in some free software to make print items -- I'm thinking orders of service and newsletters -- more attractive and professional-looking.
I'll do this because there's so little cost (time or materials) difference between something that looks ratty and something we can be proud of, and this tool can make one step closer to pride.
But ratty too often wins. I can't do anything about over-long announcements or pointless minister's columns written out of necessity on deadline. Or grammatical errors that appear seemingly out of nowhere. (Actually, I could have, because I have done all of these.) But when a task needs to be done, sometimes the only good thing you can say about it is that "it's done now."
As churches have to make do with less money, fewer people and less cachet in the community, this tension between "must do" and "it's not great" will become more pronounced and painful. Surely, some customs may vanish, perhaps the print newsletter. Others may be helped by outsourcing and automation. (Churches are not immune to this, and volunteer time has value.) And some will be improved by better tools and training to use them.
But the goal is not so much the better appearance, say, for print pieces; but greater pride for those who produce and read them.