15 Ideas to Help You Evaluate Your Church Bulletin

Recently I emailed some friends and asked them to grab their bulletins from their weekend services at their church and mail them to me. I was overwhelmed when just over 100 that arrived in my mailbox or email! It was so fun looking in at what’s going on at so many churches across the country. I asked for this bulletins because I wanted to learn from what other churches are doing to regularly communicate with their people through this channel. I’ve picked out some of the pieces that stood out to me and provided them here for you to check out as well. How are you leveraging your church bulletin (or program … or worship folder … or whatever you call it) to communicate with your people? I hope these inspire you to reconsider how you can make it better … I know it did for me! [You can download all 17 bulletins in one ZIP file.]

I’d love you to provide a link to your bulletin (or program!) in the comments section. What do you think your piece does particularly well? At my church we focus our bulletin totally on the first time guests … I don’t think our “regulars” look at bulletin at all. We used to have this cool “story of us” on the inside of our program every week for about 18 months. I liked that piece because I think it brought people up to speed quickly on who we are. I also like our current version of “what to expect” … I think it makes it pretty clear what is about to happen for our guests. I’d love to hear about yours!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Nicole — 04/30/15 2:24 pm

Thank you for the suggestions. I am looking to make some changes to our bulletin. I slimmed it down a few years ago (getting rid of the order of service and some other things). The issue that I am facing is that more than 50% of our congregation are senior citizens; the rest are younger families. It is very difficult to find something that meets everyone's needs. I have also tried to slim down the amount of inserts we put in the bulletins. Recently, I started putting pictures on the cover and everyone seems to love that! In the past our bulletins have been completely "inward" focused. There was nothing in there for guest and there wasn't even any contact information included. It would say something like "See Joe Smith for details." What happens when someone doesn't know Joe? I added a first page welcome explaining where kids go and what Sunday School Classes are available. I'm stuck trying to appeal to the old school and new school at the same time :) http://gracebiblesouderton.org/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=180075183&sec_id=180011477

Mindy Fay — 02/05/15 9:03 pm

Your ideas and examples are great. We have a really, really small church. Mostly regulars (10-15) and some not so regulars (2-5) and the occasional visitor. I do our bulletin each week and try to cover the basics, make it attractive, and when necessary informative. I've been doing them for about 4 years, this year will be my 5th. Our small group of member's don't handle change very well, so I started out making it similar to the "cut and paste" photo copy job that they used to have, then gradually updated it. This year I made some "big" changes (or so our members feel). I'm just trying to get everyone to actually read it each week. I realized they weren't (except for the service order) when I started changing the Welcome message and realized no one had noticed! I can't leave the service order out, for the few times I have, they have not been pleased. We don't really have any ministries to add information about, just our Wednesday night bible study. I want our bulletin to grab the visitor's attention, inform them of what to expect, etc. but also, I like to have something inspirational, or fun facts, etc. to add that "little something extra" for our regulars to look forward to. Any ideas and/or feed back would be greatly appreciated. You can view most (not all unfortunately due to computer issues in the past and recently) via our facebook page (which by the way, I don't think our members have ever seen. Our Pastor didn't even know I had set up an email address for people to contact us...that's how outdated our church is, but I love them partially because of it! God Bless, Mindy https://www.facebook.com/pages/Natomas-Baptist-Church/291884617497303?ref=bookmarks

Eric Johnson — 01/01/15 10:48 am

Great article, I am constantly looking to tweak the bulletin. There are some great ideas here. To John Heading's comment, I have used Publisher for my 11 years (I keep it updated to 2013 version) designing our church bulletin and really like it. It all comes down to what you like and what you are used to. I don't have time to learn a whole new desktop publishing program. Use what works for you.

Jeremiah Austin — 02/25/14 2:18 pm

Christy, That's the format we just moved from. It has it's pros and cons. First of all, there is always room for whatever info you need to put in it (yet we somehow still needed inserts from time to time, go figure that one). Conversely though, what I ran into a lot, was trying to find filler to fill up all that space, but that was just an issue we had, may not be an issue for you guys (if you do have it though, I found a simple "Notes" Section with a bunch of lines was a GREAT filler). Also, IF your cover changes week to week or series to series, I found the dimensions hard to work with each time. However, I do like that the info is easy to navigate as well. One final note, since you provide your bulletin online, I would suggest lowering your file size as much as possible. You could probably cut about 25% of the file size out without any quality loss. It just helps with the loading time.

Christy Galan — 02/25/14 11:27 am

http://www.fpcpuyallup.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/February-23-2014.pdf I just re-did the bulletin into a tri-fold with order of worship & announcements together. I would love to know any suggestions! firstpresoffice@fpcpuyallup.org

Irby Stanley — 02/17/14 6:59 am

I am interested to how many churches still put the "nickels and noses" (giving and attendance) in their Sunday bulletin? We stopped doing this the first of the year and the senior adults are constantly complaining that we are trying to "hide something." I noticed only 2 or 3 of the examples that continue to put giving info in the bulletin.

Steve Wilson — 02/14/14 6:38 pm

Really helpful article - I'd be fascinated to hear your thoughts on our Monthly bulletin 'Preview'. We relaunched it, in the Autumn. http://www.kingsarms.org/resources/preview.html

Jeremiah Austin — 02/14/14 3:55 pm

Interesting thoughts. I'd love to be able to scrap the bulletin, but I'm interested in the sizes of the churches that scrapped them and their demographics. If there are a lot of the older generation, is that being received well and really working? John Heading, we actually use Photoshop, but I would guess most "professional" bulletin makers are using InDesign, but I could be wrong. I am just more comfortable in Photoshop. Another note on this, Publisher is certainly limiting, but you can still make nice looking things, it's really up to the space between the chair and the keyboard/mouse most of the time. http://spotswood.org/images/pdfs/bulletin.pdf We just did a total revamp on ours, this is lightyears beyond where it was. Still trying to learn how to have less clutter, but we're already cutting out too much for some people. I'm also having a difficult time with the older generation as far as readability goes. Oddly enough, they say it's color, not font size or type.

Paul Sterrett — 02/14/14 12:24 pm

Great food for thought. http://www.lifespringhill.org/#/worship/weekly-bulletin

John Heading — 02/14/14 6:20 am

Love the article. We have been thinking about gutting our bulletin and starting over. Is there a primary software that churches are using today? Microsoft Publisher looks more high school than professional. Any suggestions?

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

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