Multi-Site Bulletins: 5 Questions to Make Them Work

Multi-Site Bulletins: 5 Questions to Make Them Work

May 15, 2017 by

Oh, the bulletin… that folded little of piece of paper bears quite the responsibility in our churches. But what happens when it’s not just one bulletin? What happens when your church goes to multi-site and you find yourself responsible for two, three, four, or more bulletins each weekend?

You’ve got new challenges and tensions to manage when you find yourself creating bulletins for a multi-site church. At Life.Church, we print 45,000 bulletins every week across 26 locations, so we understand challenge.

The bulletin is merely a communication channel to connect people to their next steps

As you work on a strategy that can grow with your church, I’d love to share how we’re learning alongside you and propose some questions to ask yourself as you navigate this season in your ministry.

1. Evaluate: Which content should be the same across all locations?

As you develop a scalable bulletin strategy, think about the information that should be reiterated week in and week out—no matter which location someone visits. At Life.Church, these are the things that speak to the core of our church like our mission and vision. We also feature our series branding and message notes to keep an emphasis on the weekend experience.

And perhaps the most critical piece for us: our communication card. That’s where we lead people to let us know if they are visiting for the first time, if they’ve made a decision for Christ, or if they’re ready for their next step. When we landed on those non-negotiables, we discovered the foundation on which our bulletin is built.

2. Empower: What content should be driven by each location?

Each community is unique, with different demographics and needs. We trust that the teams at our 26 locations know their communities best. They know where to focus effort and they are leading the people they serve to their best next steps. That’s why we made the choice to scale by decentralizing the execution of the finished bulletin. Our expectation is for the bulletin to support the stage announcements, which vary from location to location. So it makes sense for our campus teams to be empowered to make the best decisions for consistency. Which brings me to my next question…

3. Equip: How can you support your locations with the right resources?

As the communication expert for your staff, I know the thought of releasing control can be scary. We’ve all seen some of the train wrecks that come from a well-intentioned, but ill-equipped, team member.

But that’s the key: equip them.

Let’s focus our valuable time and skills on serving them with the resources (and boundaries—see #4) they need to succeed. The more your church grows and expands, your value as the communications leader is determined by how well you maximize your reach across the organization.

One way we’ve chosen to do this is by focusing our effort on resources that can be used by as many locations as possible. The communications team works with ministries to create series documents, event resources, and campaign plans that make it easy for the person at each campus (in our case the local operations pastor) to customize. Our campus teams trust that these documents will be thorough and accurate, which creates the confidence needed to make wise content decisions.

4. Establish: What does excellence look like for your church?

If resources are the first way to replicate yourself, boundaries are the second. Established expectations have been key to how we scale our efforts. For example, we allow space for a targeted number of location-specific announcements. Then, we use decisions like that as an opportunity to cast vision for what we value like being advocates for our audience by keeping our communication clear and focused.

Consider reinforcing your communication values with specific best practices like:

  • Write and select content based on attenders’ needs, not your own.
  • Always provide a clear action step.
  • Provide enough time for attenders to prepare for an event or opportunity.
  • Allow time for two or three proofreaders (volunteer or staff) to review the finished bulletin.
  • When and how to complete the bulletin for printing.

If you don’t already have them, consider creating Communications Guidelines, an Editing Checklist, Weekly Guide Best Practices, and Tips for Establishing a Review Process. For us, the bottom line is that the communications team cannot effectively proof 26 different bulletins each week, but our campus teams are equipped to execute with excellence because of resources like these.

5. Evaluate: How will your bulletin adapt over time?

As you cast vision for creating a scalable process, don’t forget to leave room to evaluate, innovate, and evolve. While we have a process in place, it gets tweaked and updated regularly to be more effective. For example, we regularly spot check our bulletins for coaching opportunities and for ideas we can share with other locations. We also revisit the resources we provide at least once a year to ensure they’re current and helpful. (And we expect to receive feedback on the ones that aren’t.)

And we also keep the “what ifs” of the future in mind as we make those decisions. Things like: How can we extend this experience to our app? How can we leverage text messaging? What role does email play? The list goes (and will always go) on and on.

The bottom line is that the bulletin is merely a communication channel to connect people to their next steps and give them the information to do so. If we keep that end in mind, we aren’t quite so tied to the channel itself, but to the very heart of why we’re in ministry.


Post By:

Lucinda Ross

Lucinda serves as the central team leader of communications at Life.Church. For an entire library of training, apps, and resources from Life.Church and other ministries, visit the Life.Church Open Network.
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