The Dreaded Church Bulletin

Before we get started, we know that absolutely everyone and their mother has an opinion on church bulletins. However, this is not about an opinion, but a reasonable way forward that makes sense for both the church and the people they serve. All we ask is that you sit back, take it all in, and then come to a conclusion as to your next right step.

But first, a story. 

Have you ever gone to a mall and walked by a restaurant as they were handing out samples? It doesn’t matter if it was a See’s Candy or a delicious piece of chicken from Panda Express, you know you’re getting a piece of that action.

Why? Because you’re hungry, it’s free, and it’s probably delicious.

Alright, you know it’s delicious. That’s why you take two. Yeah; it’s not Costco and they’re not samples, but everyone knows you’re grabbing one for yourself and another for that “friend” you are with.

But have you ever stopped to consider why restaurants do this? They don’t hand you their entire menu or business strategy, the menu offerings coming up in a couple of months, manager and shift leads emails, etc … they just give you one thing, in an attempt to get you through the doors.

Have you made the connection yet? 

As a guest enters your church, what is their first impression? What do you hand them? How large is the bulletin and what is inside of it? We can sit here for days arguing the merit of a paper or digital bulletin, or we can have a conversation about how the church needs to respond in 2017 and beyond.

Because things have changed. 

The audience has shifted, their access is immediate, and the church must respond accordingly.

The Connection

During a large mentor gathering of San Diego church leaders, this issue was brought up. Around the table stood various opinions on the topic of church bulletins. They varied from an imperative to a complete waste of time. If the top church leaders in San Diego cannot agree on a clear path forward, how can anyone think they can do better?

Because the issue at heart is actually a lot easier than you think.

Let’s circle back to that delicious piece of chicken we discussed at that beginning of this article. You remember, the one that made you walk inside the restaurant to order an entire meal.

Whatever we give people must help them take their next right step forward. 

If that is a paper bulletin, then so be it. If it is digital, fine. But here’s what we know:

  • Church websites are responsive (they better be), so they can host a mobile-friendly bulletin.
  • Church apps are exclusive to regular church members, so they make sense for an internal audience.
  • Start using YouVersion Events and go live with your digital bulletin and Bible.
  • You can always improve your current paper bulletin or trim the fat.
  • Kill your paper bulletin or don’t start a digital one (is that even a viable option).

This is what we really want you to focus in on: What is going to cause your audience’s mouths to water and get them to come back again? 

No one in the history of church has ever responded with an answer like “a paper bulletin” to that question. But you know what, they’ve also never said a digital one or church app.

Time and time again it’s about people. And processes. And that a church is really a family that really gives a rip.

But we can do better.

We need to do better.

And we can help you make some wise changes.

Because we’ve done the research better and spoken with market experts. We’ve asked the hard questions, poured over hours of research, and have narrowed your next right steps to the following suggestions.

  • Go digital. Start a church app for use on Sunday mornings. Don’t be confused by other services offering to be your cloud bulletin. Build an app, customize your weekly bulletin, and get your church’s information in the hands of audience in the way they are used to receiving it. You can’t know and understand that 92% of all phone activity is done via apps and not do anything about it.
  • Keep paper … but trim the fat. Around the table at San Diego mentor group, we discussed Nelson Searcy and his imperative to hand out paper bulletins. However, the key here from Nelson wasn’t a paper bulletin, but that it was something you were handing everyone. If you can go digital, then you can get rid of the fluff that doesn’t need to be in every person’s hands. Give them a way to engage with your church throughout the week (an app) and in paper, give them little samples of what they need to know to help them come back.

Bonus!!! Most churches cut their printing cost 50-75% when they go digital the right way. So if you’re a church that spends $9k a month on printing, you’re saving $54k-$81k a year. That right there is a staff member or two, a well thought out service project, or a capital campaign for a new pool for the pastor (yeah, we’re joking there).

Are the wheels turning yet? 

If you can go digital, save tens of thousands a year in printing, create a more affective communication piece for your guests every weekend service, then you are on a path to more effectively reach your ever-changing audience.

And because we like you, think about your new church bulletin looking like this 🙂

It could be the missing piece to your weekend experience, and the key to helping create the next right step for your guests. Do it up on nice paper: glossy front, matte back (for writing), and watch your engagement go up and your printing costs go down. It’s a tried and true format, gives people exactly what they need and only what they need, and helps push people toward your new digital strategy at every turn.

Click HERE to download your new church bulletin.

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