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Before You Ditch The Paper Bulletin Consider This

Before You Ditch The Paper Bulletin Consider This

Posted August 9, 2018 by Jeanette Yates

In our current digital culture, paper bulletins are often given a bad rap. After all, why do we need to waste money printing bulletins when they contain content readily found on the church website and are usually left on the pews after worship anyway?

Sure, this may often be the case, but the paper bulletin can serve a purpose. Here are three reasons to consider keeping it:
 

Bulletins Can Provide Worship Guidance  

This is important for guests or people who cannot see projection screens well. Though the majority of your audience will know what is happening, a new person may want to see what to expect. Someone with impaired vision may find the bulletin easier to read. Placing the liturgy in your bulletin is a great option to help alleviate some of these hindrances.
 

Bulletins Can Tell Your Story

If your bulletin only contains worship service information, consider adding a few short paragraphs about what is happening in your church family. Did a youth group have a successful mission trip? Did a small group participate in a community initiative? Whatever God is doing in and through your church members is something worth sharing. Yes, these may also be blog posts, but having a short article in your bulletin keeps people who are not connected online in the loop about your church family.
 

Bulletins Can Help Your Marketing Strategy

This is the most compelling reason for keeping the bulletin. A bulletin can actually help you with your digital strategy. How? Many times older members of the church feel left out because their events don’t “meet the criteria” for the bulletin, email newsletter, a stage announcement, or a Facebook event. Because the older generation typically relies on the bulletin to let them know what’s going on in the church, when they see their events listed or stories being told they are less likely to request other forms of communication, like email and social media, that are better suited for younger demographics. Including their events in a bulletin doesn’t hurt the larger audience because, chances are, they aren’t reading it anyway. It does, however, serve the smaller audience and helps them feel included.

 

Should you keep your bulletin?  If the overwhelming majority of your church members are younger and digitally connected in several ways, perhaps not. But, if you have a multi-generational church, the answer is yes.

 

Filed under: Branding, Communications, Newsletters/Magazines, Worship Folders, Worship Service, Marketing, Marketing Campaign

About the Author

Jeanette Yates

Jeanette Yates is a former stay-at-home mom/Pilates Instructor-turned-UMC Church Communications Director. Using her gifts of storytelling, she enjoys sharing what God is doing in and through her church community & engaging with people online. In her spare time, Jeanette enjoys hiking with her husband and hanging out with her two sons. She is an avid reader and podcast fanatic. Seriously, she loves podcasts! Follow Jeanette on Instagram and Twitter!

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Comments (9)

  • Erik
    7:51 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    I understand your points above, however, it still seems there are many bulletins handed out and accepted because people don’t want to be rude. But these bulletins end up in the backs of chairs because ppl don’t really want them. What I always thought would be a good idea is to have a digital version for your church and its app (if you have one), but also an on-demand printer where someone could request a bulletin by tapping a button on an iPad/kiosk type area and having one printed for them. Or have them available at an information area and have the person manning that area print them as needed.

  • Chuck
    8:34 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    A bulletin is also a good place to take sermon notes, and note-taking has been proven to improve memory and listening engagement.

  • Dirk Vaneyk
    8:59 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    We currently do a weekly email blast and a weekend program. Both take a lot of resources in time and money to design it well.

    We’re looking at printing a dozen color copies on the email blast for those who want it but mainly switching to a well-designed, series specific, card as program. Series info on front, generic next step links on back. Same cards for 4-5 weeks in a row.

    Chuck: Totally agree! ‘a dull pencil beats a sharp mind’ We hand out series note-books for taking notes.

    Honestly, the idea of getting people to view events on a phone is the unicorn goal because that’s where they sign up.

  • Michael
    9:08 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    There is definitely benefits to paper bulletins but do they outweigh the benefits of digital, I do not think so. There are so many possibilities for a dedicated website or even a app if you want to go that direction. All the best.

  • Melissa
    9:14 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    We recently adjusted our communication strategy because our bulletin is quite lengthy and we noticed that people in the congregation tended to be distracted by its contents during the service. To encourage a greater focus on the preaching and worship, we now hand out a streamlined bulletin card before the service - with the order of service and a short introduction to the passage being preached. The back of the card has space for notes.  All announcements and church business is communicated on an Announcement Sheet available after the service at the exits of the church.  For those who prefer digital communication - our bulletin information is included in our weekly E-News. It took some time for the new format to be embraced, but I think it’s meeting the needs of our multi-generational church. The feedback from the congregation is that they are not ready to give up on the paper copy of the bulletin.  With a digital platform in place, it will be an easy transition when they are.

  • Dirk
    9:23 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    ^^ Melissa makes a great point about being distracted ^^. That aligns so well with our values around why we keep it dark and loud in worship.

  • Bryan Haley
    9:31 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    I really love the insights you all are adding to the conversation!

  • Dawn Kvigne
    9:40 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    Thank you for this. I would love to ditch the printed program, but in our multi-campus church it is still very vital to our members. We have a few locations that are so rural there is no cellphone or internet available (yes, really!), so it is challenging to keep the people who attend there feeling connected.

  • Barbara
    10:43 AM
    Thu, Aug 9, 2018

    As one who is on a computer all day, 5 days a week, plus anytime spent on other screens (phones, pads, etc), truthfully, I would much rather have a printed order of service (which is what our church’s bulletin is) to look at than having to pull it up on my phone.

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