One thing that seems to be common to all churches is the church bulletin. It is used to communicate to people about what is going on in the church and keeps people informed about the service as well as upcoming events. The bulletin is a great way for the pastor to communicate to the congregation later in the week because people will often refer to them when they have a free moment. This makes it a valuable resource for the pastor because it is an additional avenue for him to keep the congregation informed.
Although many churches feel the need to move away from print based communication, the bulletin is here to stay. Even with all modern advances, the convenience of paper and ink is difficult to eclipse. If you are using a printed weekly bulletin, it might be time to evaluate it and look for ways to make it better. We would like to give you some ideas for improving the effectiveness of your bulletin.
What to Include in Your Bulletin
When you begin to think about what to include in your church bulletin, somewhere along the way, the creative mind begins to over-exert itself. Ideas begin to come from left field, and they don’t stop. As you begin to jot them down, it is easy to fill up an entire sheet of paper rather quickly. As with any brainstorming session, not every idea is necessarily a good idea – some ideas are way off base from the start while others just never get to the point.
A church bulletin should be looked at like a bulletin board. In other words, what you put in the bulletin should only be information that you would want the entire public to know. If you are unwilling for non-church members to know something, then don’t put it in the church bulletin. However, there are some things that are considered a “must have”, as far as bulletin content is concerned. In the following section, we will discuss a few of them.
The first thing all readers of your church bulletin should know is that they are welcome by the church. Nobody should miss the clear message that they are welcome to be in attendance that day. The more you can project the message that all are welcome, the better. Jesus came for sinners—all sinners. Everyone, no matter what problem they are dealing with, should know that your church is the place for them. It should be clear and distinct and the more illustrated with graphics the better.
Order of worship
There is nothing more embarrassing than to be in a situation where everyone else knows what to expect and you don’t. When everyone else knows what to do, but a guest does not, they cannot help but to feel awkward. No amount of consolation will take away that awkwardness. It loudly communicates, “We know what to do. You do not! You are an outsider!”
Therefore, it is very helpful to have an order of service clearly displayed in your bulletin. Not only will guests feel as though a part of things, but the “old hats” will like it as well. Nobody likes to be in the dark, everyone wants to know what the plan is.
It is a good idea to be as detailed as possible, but if your service is simple, then your published order of service can be just as simple. There is no need to put in every minute detail, but important items should not be left out either. The proper balance can always be obtained by asking yourself this question, “Is this essential to help a visitor feel comfortable?”
It is obvious that church news should find its way into the bulletin. Remember, the bulletin should always be thought of as a bulletin board that people can take with them. Be sure to answer: who, what, when, where and why as briefly and concisely as possible. The more brief you can make it, the more chance you have of getting the readers involved in the ministry. To do this, try to always include the statements: “Contact (so and so) for details,” or “For more information, go to the church website,” etc. Give enough details so the readers can know if they want specifics.
It is said that a “picture is worth a thousand words” and this is very true. After years of exposure to visual communication, our culture is always drawn to the graphic first. People are conditioned to process information faster than ever before, so a good graphic will speak much louder than the words that it illustrates. If the graphic is appealing, then people will be drawn to read the article. If it is not, then people’s brains conclude that the article contains no useful information. People just don’t read unless they have to. Most quickly browse, for items that interest them and ignore the rest.
Finding more ways to illustrate your bulletin will make it easy for the readers to understand what you are trying to say. Today, many internet graphics are protected by copyright, so be careful about downloading graphics from the internet unless it is freeware or you have a license to do so. Therefore, it is best to find pictures of people from your own church and include them in the bulletin. Not only are you sure you have the right to use them, but these pictures will personalize your bulletin as well. Use images to draw people’s eyes to what you want to communicate.
A list of upcoming events
For ministry to be effective, people need to know what is going on. They need time to invite guests, prepare meals or to be reminded of events they want to get involved with. You can list these as far out in the future as you desire, but always consider the amount of time the people will need to plan.
Communicating your churches financial picture in the bulletin can be troublesome, but not if it is done right. Suffice it to say, whenever you add numbers to the report, that is when the trouble begins. It is best to just give a graphic report, such as: a graph, a thermometer or a pie chart. Using these methods makes it easy to understand where the church is financially, and it removes the critics from using the numbers as a platform to criticize you.
Things to Keep In Mind
Now that you have decided on the content of your church bulletin, you can begin designing it. Here are some things you should remember as you lay out your bulletin each week.
Have the bulletin proofread before it goes to print. If you don’t, there will always be that one nagging error that slips through the cracks, and it will inevitably be the first thing that everyone sees. All the time that you spent on articles, planning and illustrating will be overlooked by the shadow of one simple misspelling. Pay special attention to the spelling of names.
People like consistency. They like to know where to go to find something. If you have ever shopped at a grocery store that always changes the location of things, then you know about liking consistency. Every bulletin does not need to be a clone of the previous one, but there is certain information that would do well to be in the same place all the time.
Once your bulletin is laid out the way you want it, then save it as a template so that you can use it repeatedly. This way you don’t have to reinvent the bulletin from scratch each time you make a new one.
The fundamental inspiration of a wonderful church experience is the teaching. The more things that can point to the purpose statement of your sermon, the better the chance for retention. Bulletins can be used in a very effective way to brand your message idea. Not only will it help to create anticipation in the people listening, but it will help them retain the information. The more times you can repeat the purpose statement, then more they will learn it.
You cannot over simplify anything you put in your church bulletin. Make everything simple to understand, and the readers will get the message. Confusion sets in when the bulletin is too complicated. Keep things simple. Don’t put too much information into your bulletin. Say what you need to say, but don’t find yourself in a position where you are making the fonts too small, just so you can fit all the information.