Necessary or Not: Weekly Bulletins
Now that we have recovered from the long holiday weekend, we are ready to embark upon a new topic on the blog. We offer a variety of services here at The Digital Shore from church graphics to real estate videography and web design for businesses. Due to our range of clientele, we try to tackle different topics that appeal to these different arenas. This month we find ourselves musing on different media related items within churches and ministries. We have been considering the necessity of these media items, and it seems like the perfect kind of information to share on the blog.
So, first up is the church bulletin. The bulletin is a staple in most churches across the country, and it has been for years. It usually contains vital pieces of information such as the order of service, upcoming events, and a place for sermon notes. However, is it still a necessity today in our technology-driven world?
One of the major detriments to the weekly printed bulletin is the costs associated with it. It takes a fair amount of time to assemble all the information and announcements from their various sources. The major cost, though, comes from printing all of these materials. The cost of paper and ink can quickly accrue when you are printing larger quantities of bulletins week after week.
While a bulletin is easy to edit on the computer during the planning process, everything is set in stone once it’s printed. Any last minute changes cannot be corrected, and if they are corrected, it will cost you considerably to reprint all of those bulletins.
One of the other major considerations about bulletins is the end result in comparison to all the work they require. While some congregants are diligent about reading announcements and taking notes from the sermon on the back, the truth is that a lot of bulletins are largely ignored. They are left behind in seats and somehow migrate into the backs of chairs or onto the floor.
Needless to say, there are several downsides to the printed bulletin that do beg the question of whether its presence is vital in churches today. The tides of society have changed, and no longer are we solely dependent upon pieces of paper for information.
With that said, here are some alternatives to the normal weekly bulletin:
Monthly Bulletins- If you are still attached to the paper format and find it best suits your congregation, then monthly bulletins might be a helpful alternative. It requires more planning in the long-term so that the highlighted events and announcements are relevant for the whole month. It won’t follow the layout of the service; however, it can help with the time-consuming process of changing information and printing every week. It can also be slightly more cost efficient if you’re able to order/print bulletins every 4-6 weeks instead of a weekly basis.
Video Announcements- If you want to switch to a digital format, then video announcements might be a good substitute. These can save on printing costs, and it enables congregants to hear and learn about announcements in a short period of time. These announcements can also be shared on social media channels in order to reach beyond the normal Sunday morning audience.
Digital Newsletters- If you have a congregation that is fluent in technology, you could possibly distance yourself from the weekly bulletin by producing a digital newsletter. While it might be limited in only reaching your regular congregation, it would make all of your current events easily accessible.
Digital/Mobile Bulletins- Lastly, a digital bulletin might be a viable option and is easily accessible by smartphones. We actually discussed digital bulletins more fully on the blog a few months ago, which you can find here.
In conclusion, the weekly printed bulletin might have been a staple in churches for decades, but it might be time to reevaluate its usefulness in your church. There are more cost-effective ways to share information from week to week; however, there is something comfortable about having an outline to hold in your hand every week. At the end of the day, whether bulletins are necessary is a question of what works best for your congregation. As a whole, we are moving away from printed materials, but if you plan on continuing the use of your bulletin, then here are a few helpful tips to improve them and their function.
Ways to improve:
-Cleaner design- Gone are the days of including as much information as humanly possible on one sheet of paper. Aesthetics are important. Be intentional about spacing, headers, and subheaders. White space is always needed. Also, have set graphics for the front cover and leave the inside for the more vital information.
-Focus on The Necessities- The bulletin is the place for sermon notes, announcements, and the order of service. With that in mind, only give the most vital pieces of information about events and announcements. Avoid paragraphs of information that people will ignore. Instead, utilize small chunks of texts and bullet points where you can.
-Keep It Simple- People don’t need you to reinvent the wheel every week. Switch front graphics and color schemes out with new sermon series. However, for the most part, we recommend keeping the layout simple and consistent.
Next week we’ll be discussing another church media tool and its usefulness today. Until then, if you have any questions about how we can help with your church media, you can find more information here.