Keeping your church and visitors informed is challenging.
Every day, they swim in a sea of information.
From phone calls and emails to social media and television, they hear and see a ton of messages.
Over the years, churches have used printed bulletins to let people know what’s going on. But, with the introduction and proliferation of new technology—in particular, mobile phones—you may wonder if printing a bulletin is still helpful. It can feel like everyone is tuning out your church announcements.
First, let’s agree on one thing:
Keeping people informed in your church is essential.
No one is going to figure out anything by osmosis.
Besides, think about it like this:
Often when you attend an event—say a concert, gala, or game—you receive a program that informs you of the layout and tells you what to expect.
Today, if anything, the idea of church bulletins have become reimagined—not obsolete.
Below, I’m going to share with you four alternatives to a printed church bulletin. But first, there are three things you should consider before trashing your bulletin.
3 ways you can adapt your printed bulletin
Before casting your church bulletin into an eternal abyss, here are three things you can try:
- Reduce the size
- Print in black and white
- Print monthly, not weekly
Is your church bulletin ginormous?
Is it full of a tremendous amount of info?
Before ending your church bulletin, the first thing you can do is reduce the size. To accomplish this goal, really think through the purpose of your bulletin. What is its point?
When you answer this question, filter everything you usually include in the bulletin through this lens to see what does and doesn’t fit. If it doesn’t meet the criteria, then don’t include whatever it is—even if it is a promotion for Aunt Betty’s long-standing quilting ministry.
Do you print your bulletin in color?
If so, then consider printing your bulletin in black and white. If you go this route, you may have to remove images and colorful designs. But it will save you printing costs in the long run.
Finally, another option to consider is to print only one bulletin per month.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should print the same amount of bulletins every week. Instead, for this tactic to work, you’ll need to limit what you share, avoid sharing potentially canceled events, and reduce the number of copies you print per month.
This option will save you both time and money.
Have you tried these ideas? Or are you convinced you need to can your printed bulletin?
If so, let’s take a look at four alternatives you can pursue.
#1- Video announcements
Do you have the ability to share a video during your worship service?
Is your church open to the usage of video during the worship service?
If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, sharing announcements via video may be a viable option.
Before trodding down this path, you’ll need to consider how to go about making videos. There are two options:
- Produce videos in-house
- Outsource production
To record video announcements, you can produce them in-house. To pull this off, you’ll need video equipment, someone overseeing production, and a deadline.
Thankfully, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars for video equipment. You can get a sweet set up for $1,000 or less.
To produce your video announcements, you’ll need to delegate responsibility and authority. Someone will need to be in charge of ensuring everything is produced on time and ready to share during your worship service.
Talking about deadlines, one thing that can quickly derail your production is not setting and adhering to a strict guideline. For example, if you don’t have a drop-dead date for announcement submissions, then your video announcement will barely be ready by Sunday morning, since you’ll have to make changes constantly.
This is a recipe for disaster and burnout.
The next option you have is to outsource production.
Today, many churches outsource a variety of services—including church announcement videos.
If you outsource your videos, be prepared to submit your announcements in a timely fashion, and be sure whomever you work with can provide consistent production. You’d hate to get into a situation where the style and tone is constantly in flux.
Ready to produce videos?
There’s one caveat you need to know:
The amount of information you can convey in an announcement is less than what you can share in print.
The medium (video) is simply limited by how many words you can share.
Think about it.
The average novel is 80,000–150,000 words, whereas the average word count for a movie script is 7,500—20,000.
What’s the point?
The amount of information you can share in a video announcement is less than what you can share in a printed bulletin. So, whatever you share needs to be clear and laser-focused.
#2- Email newsletters
Know what church members are continually checking?
If you’re not already, you can send your weekly announcements to your church via email.
With email, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Don’t include everything
- Send weekly emails
- Include links (if applicable)
- Be consistent
- Include images
- Write a captivating subject line
Regarding the first point above, you’ll be tempted to share everything, which makes sense. It’s a digital format, and you’re not limited by the number of pages or margins as in a print bulletin.
Don’t do this.
When you send a weekly newsletter to your entire church, most of what you share needs to apply to everyone. If you need to send a message for your music ministry or children’s ministry volunteers, then send this group a separate message. This small pivot in your communication strategy will vastly improve the effectiveness of your communication.
#3- Church apps
A church app can easily replace your printed bulletin.
I know you may not be a fan of an app.
But there are some important tidbits you need to know.
With a church app, you can:
- Add events
- Share content—e.g., sermons, blog posts
- Provide sermon notes
- Include social media
- Send push notifications
- Share prayer requests
- Encourage mobile giving
In short, a church app is one destination you can promote for your church members to stay in the know.
Thankfully, today, church apps are affordable. So, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage on your church facility to pay the bill.
After building an app, the only thing you’ll need to do on the regular is to encourage your church to download it and ensure notifications are enabled (they should be by default).
#4- Church website
A mobile website can also do many of the same things a church app can accomplish.
If you want to use your website to replace your printed bulletin, then here’s what you need to know:
- Simplify your website
- Make things easy to find
- Promote your website
There’s one thing to keep in mind with your website:
Today, church websites tend to be the front door for potential visitors, and it may not be the best way to share information with your church community—especially personal info, like prayer requests.
Does this mean you can’t use a website to replace your printed bulletin?
It’s just something to keep in mind.
Should you focus on your website or an app?
Again, it just depends.
For the sake of your replacing your church bulletin, think through what you and your team can reasonably manage from a time and budget standpoint.
Is it time to get rid of your printed bulletin?
Well, that depends.
Before you make a decision, you need to ask yourself these four questions:
- How can we best inform church members?
- How can we best inform visitors?
- What information do we need to share to accomplish these goals?
- What are the best mediums (print, email, social media, etc.) to connect with our members and visitors?
After you think through these four questions, you’ll know if you need to keep your printed bulletin the same, adapt it, or replace it with something else entirely.