I wanted to share an Idea I have had for some considerable time. We have a 15 Passenger Van that we have used here at the church for years. It is a Ford Van that has a “raised” roof and seating that you would normally see in a van that is used to move people around as a shuttle van. It is modified from the original van and with modifications the air conditioner doesn’t work that well. It only took one trip from Arkansas to Florida to understand that it was not the ideal van for traveling long distances. This has been the main complaint from our Seniors (50 Plus) too and they no longer use the vans unless it is absolutely necessary. The Transportation Team discussed even the possibility of getting rid of it when we purchased a new van for church-wide use. I shared with them some ideas and the fact that it is a great van for getting students to and from our Wednesday Night event (Flipside 517). There is an obvious need for this van in our ministry and now we have the opportunity to have the van for primary student ministry use. I had always liked the look of vehicle wraps and the usefullnes they have in advertising ministry locally as a rolling billboard. We began to look into that brand of advertising and found that a local Sign Company was capable of taking care of us at a very reasonable rate. So now I am collecting all the necessary details needed to present it as option we have to benefit our local church.
The cost could have been worked into my annual budget but our team decided to raise the money through student activities and donations. Exactly what that is going to look like is still taking shape. Hopefully we can take it before the church after the first of the year and begin with the process of wrapping the van with high quality images and designs. This being a learning process, I am happy to pass on a couple of things that I have learned so far.
1. Know what type of advertising you want. Is it going to be something that you notice as you pass by the vehicle at 60 mph and you need the image or ads to be recognizable in a very short time or do you want something that will generally be viewed for longer periods of time? We opted for the latter. Our hope is that an individual could stand and look at the graphic artwork for 5 minutes and still find something new on it. So bright colors and logos, contact information, different “programs” offered for our students, a little town pride with the local school(s), etc. The sky is the limit.
2. Have all of your ducks in a row before you present it to the church. It is never a good situation to be caught off guard by a valid question, especially when you are the one in charge, “I will have to get back to you on that,” is never an option in my book, so be prepared. I have done legal research with the help of Arkansas Baptist State Convention and found out some very helpful information regarding possible tax issues for non-profits. You can sell “ad” space on it, but that would take filing specific paperwork with the IRS to cover that “revenue.” It most likely isn’t that difficult but we opted to not pursue this. Having some great business from within our church “buy” space on the van to help cover the cost of the wrap would be fun for me…but the trouble with “income revenue” is not a rabbit I want to chase. Obviously that is up to you to decide. This is just an example of the things that you need to be able to answer if you are presenting this as an option. Know the cost involved, how much time will it take, how long will it last, will it be ugly or not, and so on. Homework with larger scale ideas like this is never time wasted.
3. Have a plan. Who, what, when, WHY, and how. Why are you going to do it? Is it in the mission of the church and fit the overall goal of what you are trying to do in the community and with your people? I envision it to be a great promotional tool for us. I would like to have it as an instant eye catcher for block parties, parked outside our weekly events, picking up and dropping off students, plus add a little creativity to our ministry. Nothing screams fun like a specially painted “school bus” for youth groups or a wrapped van that everyone knows where it is from and what it represents. Do you know how you are going to design it? Busy or subtle graphics, mesh over the windows that is part of the overall scheme or leave the windows clear? I can talk about this for probably too long. Communicating your vision in this area is just the same as communicating your vision for your ministry.
4. Be flexible. My ministry here does not hang on whether or not we get to chase this dream. I love my church and have wants and desires like everyone, but am I going to lose focus or quit over something like this? Absolutely not. Is this a hill I want to die on or be remembered for showing my rear-end on? Nope. I budget promotion every year. We support the booster club and get in all the programs and on the sport calendars with our ministry, some local ads in the newspaper and then there would be this. A rolling billboard that communicates what we do in the community. So I hope to keep you posted with the process of wrapping our church van. Should be a fun ride.
I am posting before pics of our van and a wrapped van from a church I served at in Florida so you can see the potential I am speaking of. My good friend and current Youth Pastor Brad at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Titusville, FL was able to wrap a Dodge van to promote the Student Ministries there. I saw it when I was down this summer on a Student Leader (STUlea) Trip and it galvanized the dream I had for our van. It helped to have pics of this van to cast the vision here. I haven’t seen too many church vans that have been wrapped well and would love to see other pics or comments if you have them. Keep dreaming and chasing after the Father!