Why Reach People for Christ When We Can Produce Excellent Bulletins »
That's a provocative intro, I know.
Why is a discussion about bulletins important to church growth? What does this have to do with doubling a church in a year?
Serious church growth requires churches to take a hard look at what truly matters.
- What do we have time for?
- What are we doing now that we can stop so that we can refocus attention on the mission?
The vast majority of bulletins are an unnecessary waste of time and money. There, I said it. That includes small print bulletins, elaborate digital bulletins, and 20-page bulletin books created weekly with every song and reading included.
My heart sinks when I consider the time, money, and effort churches spend.
As the Director of Communication at two churches, let me share first hand that the production of the Sunday bulletin (as well as programs for events and holidays) was a major effort. Production took days with multiple employees involved.
At one church where I was on staff, printing the bulletin consumed half of the yearly communications budget.
The great and real fear was that most bulletins were never read. I was often told, "People don't look at them." And it's true. They weren't taken home and used as a resource. They ended up in the garbage.
Most staff didn't look at them either.
Bulletins Disappeared During COVID, and It Was OK
When COVID happened and new protocols called for the temporary elimination of paper, church marched on. The gospel didn't change. People of all ages learned other ways of connecting and getting information. They had to.
Many churches used the freed-up time and financial resources to ramp up digital worship and discipleship. Some churches continued to produce a bulletin for those worshipping online.
One Sunday during COVID, the digital bulletin accidentally disappeared from the website. I got a full-page heartfelt rebuke from a member of the media team warning me of the people who would be affected should it disappear.
I didn't have the opportunity to look at the analytics to see how many people were actually using those digital bulletins, but I promise you; the usage didn't justify the massive investment. Not even close.
Post COVID, some staff and church members asked when the bulletins would return. Today, many churches are back in the print production business. Others refused to go back to print.
Some church members and staff say they're nice to have. Nice to have doesn't justify the cost.
Journey Christian Church's Solution to the Bulletin
I don't know if Journey Christian Church (church #7) had print bulletins prior to COVID, but here's what they're doing now.
As we walked into the lobby, a large sign displayed a giant QR code. A greeter at the door said, "Be sure to download this morning's bulletin." So I did.
What's funny is that I thought it was a great concept, but I never got past the first screen. It's days later, I'm writing a blog post about it, and I still haven't looked at it until now.
Worship was meaningful, the sermon was excellent, the fellowship was welcome and warm. I didn't miss the bulletin, because it wasn't needed.
When I wanted to see it for the purposes of this blog post, I googled Journey Christian Church bulletin, and their one-page web E-Bulletin popped right up. It was simple and helpful.
Pros to going all digital
- Significant cost savings
- Signficant time savings
- If something changes, even last minute, information can be updated vs. permanent nature of print
- If someone misses seeing the bulletin at church, they know to look for it online
Cons to going all digital
- Some people prefer paper
- Some will complain about the change and some will be loud
- Some may struggle with the QR code, though QR codes have become common everywhere, and that learning curve is quickly being overcome (generate QR codes in Canva)
- Some people will not have a smart phone to access the bulletin in the service
Spend time, energy, and resources wisely.
Consider a simple approach that uses time and resources more effectively. Put everything on the web and remind people where it is over and over.
If you go digital, I beg you not to try to recreate the print bulletin online. It's not necessary, and it's overly time consuming. I also beg you to let perfectionism go. I've been working to do that for years. I still am. Every detail isn't necessary. Excellence can be simple.
The critical point and "the why" behind this post is simply this:
What will you do with the time and money you save? What are the more effective efforts you can focus on that will connect people to Christ?
Liz B. Baker
Tuesday, August 30, 2022