Make Your Sunday Bulletin Simple AND Effective

How many announcements should you include in your church bulletin?

Pretty much… none.

My philosophy about church bulletins (i.e. worship folders, programs, brochures, handouts, etc.) has changed a lot over the years. A decade and a half ago, I wanted it to be as large and stuffed with information as possible. It was my way of thinking bigger than our church was at the time.

Now, I want our weekly bulletin to be as small as possible, with as few announcements as possible. In fact, here’s a photo of our current bulletin.

Bulletin161009

And in case you’d like to have the printable or editable version:

 

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That’s it. NO actual “announcements” are included. At least, not the kind you’d normally think of. We print this on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of card stock, both sides, cut them in half, and hand them out. It’s a single half-sheet, sturdy enough to take notes on. And, we print one bulletin per sermon series and only change it during the series if something drastically changes and needs to be communicated.

Why is it so slim on information?

It’s all about who it’s for!

We print a Sunday bulletin with one person in mind – the guest. We want our guests to know that they belong, that we have next steps for them, that we don’t want their money and that we want them to know what to expect.

The weekend bulletin is really just an excuse to greet people with something printed. It offers the basic next steps, how to find out more, and how to stay in the loop.

We’re also very aware that every announcement is a “signal” that gets sent to the minds of those who are reading or listening. Our minds only have room for so many signals. So if you want people to remember two or three things, in particular, don’t tell them to remember five or eight or thirty things.

In fact, if you’ll notice, every piece of information in the bulletin actually has a short hyperlink that leads to an information page online that is mobile-friendly. Sometimes, that short link forwards to a Facebook Event so people can RSVP and share. Sometimes, it leads to a page of our website dedicated to a certain ministry. But our goal is to get people to engage with us online, beyond Sunday, so that we can communicate throughout the week with everyone.

So where do we announce stuff?

Here’s how we see it.

There are announcements that everyone needs to hear, and those are included in the bulletin, which everyone gets. Then, there are announcements only pertinent to regular attenders, which we communicate through various other means, including:

  • Our email list.
  • Our open Facebook group (not our main Facebook page).
  • Our mobile app (including one push notification per week).
  • Our website, especially the events page and the blog.
  • Some slides that cycle as people are coming in.
  • Our various Facebook “sub”-pages (men, women, students, kids, etc.).
  • Word-of-mouth, especially through small groups.

Does it work?

Not perfectly. Sometimes, someone is unaware of something happening. But we rarely hear about it. We’ve spent a long time creating a culture where people don’t expect to be spoon-fed and taken by the hand and personally led through every event.

We’re always learning and tweaking. I may have to scrap this blog post a few months from now when we flip our strategy on its head. But for now, we’re confident that growth is happening because we’re able to communicate the big signals to the many and the smaller signals to the few.


Learn more about effective communication with your Sunday bulletin by connecting with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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.

> Read more by Thom.


 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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.