The Purpose of Your Church Bulletin: Evaluate Before You Tweak

The Purpose of Your Church Bulletin: Evaluate Before You Tweak

April 20, 2015 by

Church bulletins have been a hot topic lately (and we’ve got more coming). But there’s one aspect of church bulletins that really determines everything else. Without considering it, we’re really just talking in circles. So, what’s the purpose of your church bulletin?

For starters, the purpose is probably not to drive church communicators crazy or to generate lots of wacky bulletin typos. Those are just side effects.

The purpose of your church bulletin really depends on your church. Your bulletin can have many varied purposes. Here are just a few:

  • A method for communicating announcements.
  • A program for the worship service (the “order of worship”), including song lyrics and liturgy.
  • A way to solicit prayer requests or visitor response cards.
  • A way to share generic church information (e.g., Where do kids go? What’s communion?, etc.).
  • A tangible connection people can take home and refer back to (go online, call the church, etc.).
  • A way to encourage note-taking (or doodling) during the sermon.
  • A delivery vehicle for ministry inserts (watch out for explosions).
  • A way to acknowledge volunteers who served in the service.

It’s important to consider these purposes because specific ones really matter for some churches, while others would scoff at the idea. Before you make any changes to your church bulletin, you need to consider how any change would impact the very purpose of your bulletin.

Evaluate the purpose of your church bulletin and make sure it’s the best medium for the job.

How Space Impacts the Bulletin

For example, your physical space truly determines what you can and can’t do with your bulletin. Many churches have ditched the bulletin in favor of the projection screen. They display song lyrics, call and response liturgy, and any necessary directions on the big screen. Who needs a paper bulletin?

But many churches don’t have the space to accommodate projectors and screens. These pre-modern era church buildings weren’t designed with projectors in mind. Shoe-horning the technology in can be an aesthetic nightmare, if it even works. For these churches the bulletin remains a go-to solution for song lyrics and liturgy.

Effective Announcements

For other churches the bulletin has become a standby solution for communicating announcements. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it’s a case of ‘that’s how we’ve always done it.’ There can be better ways to share announcements, including verbal platform announcements, slides, videos, email, websites and social media.

If your announcements are dependent on your bulletin, it might be wise to improve your other communication channels and free your bulletin up to be something else.

Digital Adoption

The rate of digital adoption has given a lot of churches the freedom to minimize or even kill their bulletin. We’ve discussed projection screens, but a lot of churches are even moving to mobile sites or apps.

But this kind of approach can only work if your congregation widely uses the digital tools and you’re not leaving too many people behind.

Other Options

Many of these church bulletin purposes can be accomplished in other ways. You can often use other methods for visitor cards and prayer requests. Do you really need a brand new print piece every week for something that rarely if ever changes?

Sometimes you need to question how your bulletin has always been used. Giving visitors basic information is hugely important, but maybe there are other ways to do it. Maybe welcome booklets strategically placed in the pews could do a better job of welcoming visitors and helping them know when to stand and when to sit.

Purpose of Your Church Bulletin

The church bulletin is a difficult piece. It isn’t targeted to a specific audience, so it has the difficult task of serving everybody. It’s important to play to the strengths of each communication medium, so evaluate the purpose of your church bulletin and make sure it’s the best medium for the job.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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4 Responses to “The Purpose of Your Church Bulletin: Evaluate Before You Tweak”

  • Jennifer Johnson
    April 22, 2015

    Great article! Though it sounds easy to say “let’s get rid of the bulletin” there are many churches out there that aren’t equipped (building set-up or otherwise) to do that.

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  • Maggie Nancarrow
    April 23, 2015

    I am the (interim) communications director at one of the churches whose bulletins are in the picture you used in the featured image for this post. I’m wondering, out of curiosity…how’d you come across that?

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    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      April 24, 2015

      Hi Maggie: That would be a little jarring, huh? I’m in the Twin Cities and we have a local group of communicators that meets monthly, called Social Media Shepherds. We had a meeting back in February to talk bulletins and someone from your church came and brought their bulletin. I’ve got a stack of them from the discussion.

      Unfortunately I’m terrible with names and we had a good crowd that day, so I don’t remember who it was.

      But you’re welcome to join us for future meetings. Usually we meet the first Friday of the month at a coffee shop in Uptown.

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      • Maggie
        May 3, 2015

        Hey Kevin,
        Thanks for responding! I might do that, yeah. I’m relatively new here in this position so I was just curious.

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