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Ways To Improve Your Church Bulletin

Ways To Improve Your Church Bulletin

Posted September 25, 2013 by Jerod Clark

There’s a good chance you have a love/hate relationship with your church bulletin and my guess is you lean more towards the dislike side. Why? The bulletin is often a dumping ground for information. All sorts of stuff ends up there without too much thought into why it’s there or how it’s presented.

Like any communications tool, the bulletin is something that needs to have a strategy to be effective. Here are some thoughts for improving that Sunday morning staple. 

 

  • Highlight fewer items.  If you really want people to absorb important information, you can’t give them content overload. Think of what’s the most important information for the current season of your church and give those items communications priority.  Some churches do a literal “top five” each week. Others just organize content so it’s easy to see what’s most important. Figure out what works for you and do it. Even if your bulletin is the main way you communicate with your congregation, find a way to prioritize certain announcements before getting into the lower priority items.

 

  • No paragraphs of text. People won’t sift through pages of non-stop words. Part of your job as a communicator is to make the message as simple as possible. If someone sends you an announcement through email that’s paragraphs long, you don’t have to publish it word for word. Yes, that’s easier, but is it effective? Additionally, is there content you can just cut to reduce the clutter? Do the names of next week’s ushers really need to go in the bulletin?  Is that something everyone needs to know? Couldn’t you contact them individually?

 

  • Content organization. How you layout the bulletin makes a difference. By putting information in certain spots, it will get more attention than if it was placed somewhere else. The front page probably gets read more than the last.  Something with graphical elements will catch someone’s eye more than text alone.  Part of creating priority is determining where it will go and how it will be presented to get the most attention.

 

  • White space. A great ideal of simple design is to leave room for your content to breathe. Every square inch of paper doesn’t have to be covered. Spacing your content makes it easier to consume. It’s simpler for someone to scan. They can easily know where one thing stops and another starts.

 

  • Images and graphics. These items can enhance your storytelling. Does your VBS have a logo? Do you have pictures from last year’s Easter event? Even something like a line or box can make a difference. But here’s an important point: don’t force it. Bad 1990s clipart is a distraction not an enhancement. Too many images create a cluttered mess. Always err on the side of clean and simple. 

 

  • Let it go. Sometimes we hold on to things longer than we should. Is your bulletin one of those items? Is it really effective anymore? I went to a church where the bulletin had a big sermon graphic on the front. The inside had a couple announcements. And the last two pages were for sermon notes. Did that really serve a purpose? Wouldn’t folks be fine without it? 

 

In many churches, the bulletin is one of those untouchable items. We have to keep doing it because that’s the way it’s always been done. My challenge to you is to really examine it to decide how effective it is at communicating.  In most of your churches, the bulletin isn’t going away any time soon. That’s okay.  But if you’re putting effort into it, make sure it’s fruitful. Find a way to present information so it sticks and isn’t something that gets tucked away up behind the pew hymnal. 
 

Filed under: Communications, Newsletters/Magazines, Worship Folders, Worship Service

About the Author

Jerod Clark

Jerod joined ReFrame Media in 2007 and built Church Juice from scratch. He poured all his passion for branding, marketing, and messaging into the ministry, publishing e-books, blog posts, and speaking at conferences to help churches energize their communications. He also served as ReFrame’s in-house graphic designer. Before beginning his work at Church Juice, Jerod was a local TV news reporter. In 2016, Jerod stepped away from the ministry to pursue interests in marketing and communications on new horizons.

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Comments (7)

  • Lori
    9:06 PM
    Wed, Sep 25, 2013

    I would love to see some actual examples from churches who are doing this well!

  • revsharkie
    11:23 AM
    Thu, Sep 26, 2013

    In answer to the question, “Do we really need a bulletin?” the answer is an emphatic “yes.”  People sometimes say that, well, folks who’ve never been to church don’t have any frame of reference to understand it.  But have they ever been to a play, or their kids’ piano recital?  Usually at those things you are handed some kind of program that tells all the participants’ names and gives an outline of the flow of the event.  That’s what a bulletin is, or what it should be.  A newcomer can easily see what comes next, and put names with the various people who are involved in the service.

    I’d say that the order of service, words of any fixed liturgical bits that newcomers might not know (like the Lord’s Prayer as that church says it), and the names of the worship leaders are the important things a bulletin should include, along with contact information for the church.  Other things are negotiable.  But on the occasions when I have visited churches that didn’t have bulletins, I’ve been totally lost and felt out of place and even unwelcome, because it seemed like no one really cared whether visitors could participate in the service or not.

  • Debi
    2:13 PM
    Thu, Jun 9, 2016

    What about online bulletins? I’ve been checking them out but would really like to know how well they do from someone who uses them.

  • Chris
    2:18 AM
    Fri, Jun 10, 2016

    I’m quite fond of our bulletin and it is well used. But I like your questions here and find ours more textual than optical.
    We send it as a PDF newsletter (don’t like that part) on saturday morning. Those without mail/internet and guests get it printed on sunday.

    How it looks like:
    The format is a folded DIN-A4 (letter?) brochure. The front has our logo and a teaser text for the sermon. Inside are the weeks dates and a preview for important future dates. Furthermore there is a “pinboard” with short notes of activities, invitations and other things going on. And birthdates.
    On the back are prayer requests from our missionaries, sick and notes for personal prayer.
    Finally there are contacts of pastor and office people.

    I like it. grin
    How does yours look like?

    Greetings, Chris

  • Becky Powers
    1:31 PM
    Wed, Jun 22, 2016

    We have gone to a very simple bulletin format, half sheet front and back. The early service has song titles, etc, and the later service (our modern service, mostly younger people) just gives an overview of the service. The pastor will sometimes use part of the “note” space for a brief sermon outline. I can also take out some of the note lines if we have an event we want to emphasize. You can see it here: http://www.fbcsanangelotx.org/files/6.19.2016-sample.pdf

  • Steve
    4:11 PM
    Mon, Oct 17, 2016

    Another way to improve the church bulletin is to eliminate all the trivial announcements that the denomination sends and focus on local events and ministries instead.

  • paula Rogers
    4:38 PM
    Thu, Mar 23, 2017

    We are a church that has several missionaries that we support and we have several who attend our church. My question is can we over do it with missions? When there are those who are raising money for a missions trip or those who are going on a missions trip but do not need support for it, we put them in the bulletin. we leave them in until the support is raised, We also have a missionary of the Week with their picture and a bio. This sometimes gets very lengthy. I think a picture and what mission they are with is sufficient along with prayer and praise items. We have a large space for notes in the back. I feel that we would have more room if we did not have those items but then I know there would be times it would be very bare. Please let me know your thoughts. One other issue is that people will want info put in the bulletin example the deaconess meeting time is moved to a different day. This a very small group of women who could actually be emailed or called to let them know, but it was asked to be put in the bulletin I had to say no there was no room but I want to be consistent. Do you have any suggestions.
    Thank you.

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