Creating a Church Bulletin That Gets Read and Used
By Terrie Reinking
What is the life span of your church bulletin? Does it last about as long as the service, then find its way into the trash can outside? Then breathe new life into your bulletin and make it an extremely effective communication tool for your church. Think of it as a mini-newspaper, packed with need-to-know and need-to-grow information that your congregation will treasure.
Step 1 — The Look.
Graphic design is a powerful ally in your quest for an effective bulletin. An attractive bulletin will draw readers, but a graphically poor bulletin will be a waste of paper. Outreach Inc. offers bulletin shells in 50+ styles and three sizes. These bulletins are ready for you to add your own text and graphics.
Once you have chosen your size and style, think about the following things:
* How does your church worship bulletin look graphically?
* Is it wall-to-wall typewriter type, or is the print easy to read?
The fewer typefaces (or fonts) you use, the better, so when you begin to add text, choose two or three at most that complement each other. It’s best to mix serif type, (those with small lines on the end of letters, like Times Roman), with san serif type (those with no small lines, such as Helvetica or Arial). Always use the serif type for body copy, as it is easier to read when there are many words. Save the more elaborate artsy typefaces for short headlines or subheads – and remember, use three at most.
Too much type in any font makes the page look too gray, and people won’t want to read very far. Find different ways to break up the text. Do you employ graphics in your bulletin? Just like a picture, an illustration is an eye-catcher, drawing the reader into the text. However, with the millions of clip art images that are available, it’s tempting to throw together several images that don’t match or to use too many images. Use moderation and choose graphics that create visual harmony and not chaos.
Step 2 — The Feel
Is your bulletin full of 20 little sheets of paper that fall out everywhere, or do you use moderation in the content? Put only the most important information in your bulletin. If there’s too much, you’ll overwhelm today’s too-busy-to-read person. Worse, they’ll end up reading it during the sermon! Keep it brief, and refer readers to your website for more information.
Step 3 — The Content
A. New Church
If you’ve got a new church, the worship bulletin is the best and easiest way to help attenders, especially newcomers, know what to expect in the service. If all of the information, such as song lyrics, corporate prayers, sermon topic and order of events are in print, you can put visitors at ease. Plus, the whole congregation will gain a good understanding of how each service will be structured.
Using the newsletter approach is good for a new church, as it educates members on small groups, ministries, prayer groups and other activities that define your church.
Remember to keep your audience in mind. If you’re targeting unchurched people, make your worship folder graphically exciting and avoid using “church speak.”
B. Existing Church
Some established churches include the entire outline of the service in their bulletins every Sunday. But if you take a carbon-copy approach, where only the names of the songs and the sermon topic changes, you’ll bore the reader, and your bulletin won’t get read.
This is where the newsy approach will really pay off. Include information that is important for your congregation to get through the week ahead. You should include:
* Ministry news
* Small group meeting information
* Approaching church events and outside events like concerts or trips to local amusement parks
* Recap past week’s important events, and use names. People love to see their name in print
* Excerpts from books or periodicals that relate to real life issues, such as parenting, relationships, finance and other topics that will provide spiritual growth
* Pictures, if possible. If you have the scanning technology to reproduce a high-quality photo, use it! You’ll have more success in this area if you start with a photo that has good contrast and brightness. As much as people like to see their names, they like to see their pictures even more.
Step 4 — The Feedback
Today’s most successful communication tools utilize interactive communication. Your church bulletin can do that, too. Searching for your next sermon series topic? Ask the congregation what they’d like to see. Wondering if you have enough interest in a new Bible study? Ask them. Want to find out what information your congregation would like to see in the worship bulletin? Ask them.
By giving them a simple survey, which can be collected during the offering or at the end of the service, you’re conveying your desire to be real and relevant in meeting their needs. They’ll be glad you asked, as so will you!
“Creating a Church Bulletin That Gets Read and Used”. Written by Terrie Reinking.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”