The bulletin. Worship guide. Or whatever your church calls those Bible stuffers that leak fluorescent pink sign-up cards all over the foyer.
What’s the purpose? Does your church really need a bulletin?
Many churches have been printing and distributing hundreds of bulletins each week for years without ever considering why. It’s just what they’ve always done. Typically church bulletins keep people informed of what’s going on in the church and include lists of upcoming events, recent giving and attendance stats, and some notes to accompany the sermon. Bulletins might also provide information for visitors and an opportunity for greeters to connect with these guests.
Why are some churches abandoning bulletins?
Even though printed weekly bulletins have effectively communicated these details for years, some churches are shifting away from them for a few reasons:
- Printing hundreds or thousands of quality bulletins each week can become time-consuming or costly for churches.
- Printed bulletins don’t allow for much flexibility and can’t be corrected of any errors without additional costs.
- In some cases, they’re growing obsolete as people embrace new technology. Many people simply grab one because a greeter was there handing out bulletins. But they barely skim it then toss it in the trash.
What are some alternatives to printing a weekly bulletin?
- Some churches that still want a physical paper bulletin without the hassle and cost of weekly printing opt for a monthly bulletin. This method can save the church money but must be planned even further in advance, so content isn’t as timely.
- Video announcements have already replaced bulletins in many churches. While more engaging than a piece of paper, they’re also more limited in the amount they can communicate and only reach the people who are in the worship area as they play.
- Weekly email newsletters have taken the place of bulletins in some churches. Even though most people now have email addresses, these messages often go unread and a portion of the church community never learns about important updates and opportunities.
- Many churches make the information that would be included in a printed bulletin available through a mobile app. Although this is convenient for most of the church community, visitors probably won’t download an app just to access sermon notes or check out upcoming events.
- To maintain the hospitality aspect, some churches place volunteers at a welcome station to provide the information that would normally be found in a bulletin. But most guests will be too timid to walk up and ask questions.
If you’re sticking with the traditional bulletin, how can you make it better?
- Consider your audience. This bulletin will be handed to both guests and regular attendees. While it should keep your church community informed, a bulletin could serve as the first impression of your church and should be conducive to guests. Avoid church lingo and ministry acronyms. Provide the contact information that visitors need to connect and take the next step. Don’t just tell them to talk to Brother Bill after the service—they have no idea who that is!
- Include the necessary information—no more, no less. If your bulletin would benefit from a table of contents, it’s too long. People are more likely to read and remember your important announcements if there are fewer distractions. Eliminate the stagnant content and cut down on the amount of announcements. It might leave ministries fighting for inclusion, but you’ll create a more effective bulletin.
- If you’re going to do it, do it right. Produce a quality bulletin that follows your church branding, contains no grammar or spelling mistakes, and reflects your church well.
So what’s the right choice?
Well, it depends on your individual church. Consider the culture and demographics of your church. And see how many bulletins are just left crumpled in the auditorium after a service.
If you find a way to more effectively disseminate information, don’t be afraid to make a change to the way you’ve always done things. There’s no perfect solution, and you might leave people dissatisfied no matter what you choose.
What do you think—bulletin or no bulletin?
Check out these other resources for more helpful tips and ideas:
Simple Guidelines for Better Bulletins
4 Technology Options that Might Kill the Church Bulletin
Image Credits: istockphoto