Is Your Worship Bulletin a Primary Tool to Reach Guests?

In many circles, the church worship bulletin or worship folder is perceived to be old school, the tool of staid and traditional churches. Leaders with such a perspective are missing an incredible opportunity to put something in the hands of guests that, at least anecdotally, increases the chances they will return.

It is for that reason that I see the church bulletin to be first for guests. While church members can benefit from it, the most effective use comes from those who are new to your church. I thus note nine essentials for church bulletin with the guest in mind.

  1. Worship times. Many bulletins are retained for future use. It is thus imperative for the worship times to be prominent in them.
  2. Physical address of church. You want to encourage the guest to return, so include the physical address of the church for their GPS.
  3. Website and social media links. This is a primary means of communication for our culture. Your church must be speaking that language, and guests need to know where to find you online.
  4. Email, and telephone contact. Make certain there is an email and telephone contact so the guest can get more information on the church. Also, make certain someone responds quickly to any inquiries.
  5. Prayer request contact. I encourage all churches to have some type of prayer line, either email or telephone. Many guests to your church will communicate with you through a prayer line before any other means. Make certain those contacts are in the bulletin, and make certain you have someone responding promptly to them.
  6. Sermon notes. I have been surprised at the number of guests who are eager to take notes during the sermon. They expect to have a place to take notes.
  7. Major events. Never clutter a bulletin with a multitude of events and regularly scheduled activities. Most of the time, the event should be an event for everyone, and should be considered of major value to the congregation.
  8. Vision or mission statement. This (hopefully) succinct statement will communicate to the guests what really matters at your church.
  9. Order of service. Some churches have gotten away from putting the order of service in the bulletin. I think that’s a mistake from a guest-friendly perspective. Guests may not have a clue what’s taking place in the worship services. Make certain they have a clue.

One item that may seem like an obvious omission is a guest registration card. We have found that these cards are more effective if they are placed as loose cards in the bulletin, rather than perforated cards the guest must tear off.

Again, let me emphasize that the bulletin is a primary tool to connect with guests. If you have abandoned this practice because it does not have a cool factor, please reconsider. It’s making a huge difference in churches that are using it intentionally to reach out to guests.

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 Would you like to know more about the importance of your worship bulletin as well as other communication techniques are helpful in connecting with Guests? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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Recent Comments
I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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