Is the Church Bulletin a Sacred Cow?

I’ve seen it all when it comes to church bulletins. I have been in churches that have a 25-page book as their weekly bulletin. I’ve seen others that are a half sheet. Still others print theirs less regularly to look like a slick, well-designed magazine. The church we’re a part of now doesn’t even have a bulletin (and that drives my wife crazy).

I’ll often start talking to a church about all the different ways they communicate. We talk through the different methods they use, and what works well for each area of communication. Then we get to the bulletin. Most churches utilize a bulletin—but mostly because it’s what they’ve always done. I often get asked what should be in the bulletin, how they can design it better so people will actually read it, or how they can get rid of the bulletin altogether without upsetting the congregation.

I think it’s important for us to take a step back. Before we start talking about how to design the bulletin better, what should be in it, how often to print it, or how to get people to read it more, let’s ask a couple questions about the very foundation of the bulletin.

What is the role of the church bulletin?

How is your church bulletin playing a role in your overall communication strategy? Think through what this looks like, or what you would like it to look like. Talk through its purpose and role with your team and figure out the specific role the church bulletin takes in your church’s ministry.

Is the bulletin helping you communicate more effectively?

Creating, editing, and printing the bulletin each week can be time-consuming. How does your church bulletin help you communicate more effectively? It may be time to think through what you’re communicating and how the bulletin supports that strategy. If it’s just adding more noise, then maybe it’s time to rethink the role of the bulletin.

It’s time we stop doing things in the church simply because that’s what we’ve always done. Let’s start trying to use our resources as effectively as possible. You have a lot going on, and you don’t need to be wasting more time. So take some time and figure out if the bulletin plays a quality role in your church’s communication plan and if the bulletin helps you communicate effectively. If you think your church bulletin is valuable, then you can decide how to design it better and lay it out so that people will read more of it.

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