The church bulletin.
It’s the piece of folded paper that churches large and small have embraced for decades.
Some call it different things, such as the “program” or the “worship guide” but it’s all the same.
My question though is, should we still be using these papers as forms of communication in our church? Or is there a better way to communicate.
Well if you know me at all, you know that I am a tech lover. I love all things media. So my answer may surprise you!
In order to truly understand if we should be replacing the bulletin, we need to understand the alternatives.
First things first.
Before we dig into deep we need to ask ourselves who this bulletin is for. Is it for those first-time visitors? Or is it for your close church family who attends every week?
Here’s the challenge. It cannot be both! Because naturally, you are going to talk to your first-time visitors differently than you would talk to a person who has attended your church since they were born.
They are looking for different things too. Some one who is just visiting the church is looking for new ways to get to know people and get themselves comfortable here. However, someone who has gone to the church forever might be more interested in the small details such as what the Wednesday night dinner menu.
Therefore, you can’t talk to both groups in this single medium.
Talking to the visitor.
Let’s say your answer to that question is you want to talk to the first time visitors at your church. If this is the case, I don’t believe that you should get rid of your bulletin.
Now DON’T hear that as, “Don’t change a thing about it! Everything your church is doing with the bulletin perfect,” because that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just referring to the printed material vs digital.
That bulletin is one of the first physical points of contact with your church. It’s normally the first tangible thing they will receive.
My wife and I have attended other churches before and being the introverts we are, we typically don’t chit chat with people in the foyer if we are new. We normally head straight to the worship space to find a seat. Right before we head in, though, we are given a bulletin. And believe it or not, this is almost always the first thing we look at when sitting down. Because we’re curious! We want to see what this church has to offer, and what’s going on here! (even if we’re just visiting on vacation and we know we will never become regular attendees.)
Did you get that? That’s always the first thing we look at! Even before looking at our phones! Even before we sit in our seats and talk with each other, we’re both looking at the bulletin.
If those churches didn’t use the bulletin and were relying on an app, email list, etc, we may have never seen what was going on at this church. That’s way too big of a barrier to entry to expect a visitor to download your app or even give you their email address.
Talking to the church members.
However, what if your goal is to talk to the church family and the people who have gone to your church for a while? How do we communicate then? Well if that’s the case, there are different alternatives.
One popular alternatives in the church world to the bulletin is sending out blasts to your email list.
Like any alternative, you are going to have your pro’s and cons.
- Almost everyone and their brother has an email address.
- The average email open rate for churches is around 15%-20%. And if you knew that only 15% of the people grabbing your bulletin actually looked at it, you’d probably consider not spending so much time on it.
Another popular form of communication in the church is through video announcements that play before or during the service. Need help creating video announcements? We’ve got a whole set of free tutorials for you.
VIDEO ANNOUNCEMENT PROS:
- Super engaging.
- Capture people’s attention.
- Can easily be repurposed for social media and website.
VIDEO ANNOUNCEMENTS CONS:
- Editing details are not super easy. If you record your announcements on a Wednesday and realize you need to make a change on Thursday, look’s like you have to do a whole re-recording on Friday!
- If shown at the beginning, all the people who are late will miss it.
Website or App
We are now getting to the point where just about EVERY church has a website, and more and more are getting apps.
WEBSITE OR APP PROS:
- Super easy to update information, with NO cost. (where an edit in the bulletin may require you to reprint.)
WEBSITE OR APP CONS:
- A barrier to get that information. Unless you are posting a notification to people every Sunday you are asking people to seek out information themselves, instead of handing it to them, like in all the other alternatives. However, here’s a great strategy to get people ACTUALLY download your app!
You may be a church that is ready to ditch the bulletin and go digital and there is nothing wrong with that. But before you do, ask yourself what the goal is. Who are you trying to reach? OR is there a way to keep the bulletin to reach the new people but use other forms of communication for everyone else?
Comment below if you are still using bulletins or if you have moved on and what you are doing instead!