Church Bulletins That Don’t Suck

June 17, 2005 by

Church Central has an article about getting the most out of your church bulletins. Is your church bulletin just another chance to spread the word about upcoming events? Does it communicate something about your church? Does it relate to the theme of the service?

The article is the tip of the church bulletin iceberg. The simple fact is the weekly bulletin is the one thing almost everybody who comes to your church will see and have an opportunity to take home. Are you using that to full effect? Does your bulletin reinforce your church’s brand? If a random stranger found a stray bulletin would they think about visiting your church? A while back Ryan Hartsock sent us some samples of church bulletin designs and talked about trying to do more with them.

The church bulletin is no easy design task. They have to serve a practical purpose (guiding people through the service), notify and inform, and invite and welcome. But they can also do more. What does your church bulletin do?

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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24 Responses to “Church Bulletins That Don’t Suck”

  • Betsy
    June 17, 2005

    At my old church, we transitioned to video announcements, which were really cool. And hugely time-consuming. So we decided to go back to the church bulletin (which had co-existed with the video announcements). But no one was reading the bulletin! We ended up doing a series of video announcements parodying the guy who didn’t know what was going on at the church because he didn’t read his bulletin. I don’t know how effective that was, but it was hilarious.
    Our current church has a fantastic bulletin design. And it’s economical: we had the gorgeous shells designed and printed, then we create the content and make copies. The shell contains our mission statement, beautiful graphics, and church information. The changing content (upcoming events, church announcements, notes, and description of upcoming series) has to be relevant and updated constantly, or no one will read it. But the presenation is consistent and timeless.

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    • Dale Scholey
      September 25, 2011

      Back in the early 1960’s I was instrumental in getting advertising in our church bueletine since then I see every where I attend they use thius now.

      Does anyone know where this advertising first began??

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    • Ray
      August 20, 2013

      Sounds like you have a professional, updated, streamlined bulletin that is used at your church. Would it be possible for you to email me one so that I may see the beauty and simple use you are referring to. I am hoping to “revamp” our current bulletin into something that is more appealing and user friendly.

      Thanks! and Blessings to you.

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  • Jim Walton
    June 17, 2005

    Our bulletin does not guide you thru the service, it has announcements and our church mission statement on it. ‘The Flap’, about a 2″ wide perforated flap is designed to put in the offering for visitors or for signing up for something or requesting prayer. Alot of our signup is occuring now on our website and we are working on setting up some laptops in the lobby so people who do not have internet access can sign up on our site that way.

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    • Cynthia Arnett
      September 27, 2013

      Our church is getting ready to start doing a perforated flap for our bulletin. Could you please, if you can, tell me where your printing is done for the perforation.

      Grateful for your information,
      Cynthia Arnett

      Thank you

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  • Tim Schraeder
    June 17, 2005

    Great article and comments. I totally agree that it is one of the only things that people will take with them when they leave and it needs to live and breathe your vision and be something that people can give to a friend as an invite tool.
    One thing that is so vital is identifying who you are communicating to. A great exercise I did was take a stack of bulletins from the past few months and with a Sharpie mark over each announcement how many people each item in the bulletin was actually communicating to. You’d be surprised how much room we can give to ministries that ARE vital, but only involve a small majority of the entire congregation.
    We are working to make our Weekend Bulletin more of a communication tool to the ‘crowd’… so only listing things that apply to the whole church and creating a Midweek Bulletin that will be handed out on Wednesday nights that will list things that are more related to the ‘church family’ like wedding, baby shower annoucements and also provide space for smaller, sub-ministries.

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  • orangejack
    June 17, 2005

    Great article and comments. When I talk about the 3 components of an effective website (marketing, delivery, response), I’m borrowing from many other effective events or publications.
    For instance, I think an effective bulletin would have good marketing for the church and it’s offerings, clean layout and written well, and easy to understand ways for readers to interact and get involved.
    However, I think one problem is we tend to focus on how to have a great bulletin. We should instead focus more on how do we engage people for ministry?
    I think the video idea is great. It gives a visual, audio, and hopefully emotional reinforcement for people to do something. Then the bulletin reinforces it and provided the response mechanism or more details. They will remember a video and think, “How did they say to find out more? Oh yeah, this is it here in the bulletin!”

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  • Merrill Louise
    June 18, 2005

    Our church doesn’t print a bulletin. We have a single sheet (two sides) monthly newsletter. My “article” fills at least the front of the newsletter. Announcements, therefore, are made verbally at the beginning of worship and a monthly calendar is published in the newsletter.
    Only about half the congregation has internet access. We’re very small so people still rely on a phone tree to get quick word out.
    I’m writing all this because I think there is a big gap between those of us who live and breathe electronically and those who still have landlines and read the local newspaper more conscientiously than the Bible or other spiritual reading.
    My struggle is to relate to everyone–the non-electronics and the people I think we can reach out to who will only find out about us via the internet.

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  • Sarge
    June 18, 2005

    Thanks! I needed that! I forwarded the link to my board.

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  • KSD
    June 20, 2005

    Enjoy your stuff
    Would it kill ya to call this Church Marketing Stinks?
    God’s best – KSD

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  • tov
    June 20, 2005

    very interesting indeed

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  • Faith Creative
    June 20, 2005

    Church Bulletins

    The church bulletin is the one piece of branding that just about every first-time visitor will hold, view and likely take home with them. Obviously, this shouldn’t be something thrown together without much thought.
    Check out this article at Ch…

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  • Jesse J. Anderson
    June 20, 2005

    Great article, thanks for the link!
    Not enough churches realize how important the bulletin is and just sort of throw something together, that will be one of my big challenges as I begin all the design work for an upcoming church plant I’m involved with.
    Thanks for this resource! (I linked it on my Faith Creative blog).

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  • Rachel Herrin
    April 14, 2006

    Great article!
    We are working to update our weekly bulletin, trying to make it as postmodern as possible. No one seems to have found a truely cutting edge way to inform people. Videos are great but time consuming. One of the best things our church does is make “my team 1” announcements, which is a way to make a phone announcement. All people on the list get phoned at the same time with whatever message we record. Very cool, and great response from people!

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  • Aaron
    April 27, 2006

    If you are looking for a fresh, new, inexpensive, way to do video announcements check out I think they have found a reasonable custom way for every church to do video announcements… check it out!

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  • Onnis Tea
    August 21, 2006

    What an interesting article. Like we really ought to be sitting here thinking about how to market the church and community with our bulletins. Jesus would be so proud. I can see Peter and the early apostles. “Guys, do we have a good multi-colored spread in this weeks bulletin? Make sure you put in hot pictures of the worship band. Paul, are you making cutting edge comments in your blurb?”
    God help us all.

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    • Amanda Fisher
      January 13, 2011


      I can see what you mean to a certain extent, however, if a church is spending a bunch of money and/or time on trying to communicate effectively to their congregation and the majority of those people aren’t paying attention to it or missing it altogether, then it’s a waste of tithe money.

      Part of building a church, whether by size or quality, is getting people engaged and connected to other people and to God. If a church is talking about how to better layout a bulletin or do a video so more people will see/hear/read about mission trips, youth meetings, donations for the poor or small group info then it IS a very important topic of conversation.

      To write it off as unimportant could be a bit insulting to those of us that work very hard on getting the word out effectively to our congregation and our community. However, it may simply mean that you aren’t involved in that specific capacity at your church. Which is fine.

      I’m grateful that God IS, in fact, interested in our creativity. After all, He created us that way.

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      • Ada
        September 22, 2011

        Excellent response!

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  • Tony Thomas
    July 21, 2008

    I find it odd that your website is dedicated to communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ but you chose to use the word “sucks” which is “vulgar slang” according to the dictionary. As you ask for prayer for more “butts” in the pew, why not simply use the word people rather than butt?

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  • Lonnie Milligan
    April 2, 2009

    Don’t listen to naysayers. Great site, great name, great content.

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  • Jaco
    June 2, 2009

    I agree with Ingeborga, for a website that aims at improving the way the local church communicates the gospel, there certainly can be a wiser choice of words. Don’t get me wrong, i think you have a wonderful concept and are well-placed to add a great deal to the ministry of local churches; perhaps you just need a wiser hand that signs off on your editing?
    Thanks for a thought provoking website that challenges (which is a better word than frustrates) the way we think about our church’s communication.
    God’s richest blessings for you all.

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  • Matthew Sandahl
    December 30, 2011

    I design the church bulletin at my church and I find this website to be a huge encouragement and valuable resource. However I disagree with having the bulletin imagery correspond with that week;s sermon or the sermon series. I keep the layout and format of the bulletin the same as a general skeleton, so people know what to expect, and then I change the announcements and content whilst changing the cover image to something that reinforces our church image; usually a warm family picture or something seasonal. I agree, a church bulletin should reinforce the brand identity and that considers everything, fonts, colors, linear style.

    Keep doing what youre doing here! Appreciate it.

    To see our weekly bulletin check out

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  • Dana Wade
    April 16, 2012

    My husband is starting a church in rural KY with very limited resources, so I’m designing a basic bi-fold bulletin in Pages. It’s a start…

    Matthew Sandahl, your church bulletins are very well done! What software is used to design them?

    Thanks for all the great resources!

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  • Ian
    October 7, 2015

    What is the best software or program for designing a bulletin?

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