Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Things Church Members Want in a Church Bulletin

By Thom S. Rainer

When you walk in most church worship services, you are typically handed some printed material. It goes by different names, but the most common and the longest standing name is “bulletin.”

There was a time that you could expect consistency in bulletins among many churches. Such is not the case today. There are differences of opinion and a variety of ideas about what should be in the church bulletin.

Rather than speculate, we conducted an informal survey among church members. We asked one simple and open-ended question: “What do you want in a church bulletin?” The respondents could give as many answers as they liked. There was much agreement on the first four items. Beyond the top four was considerably fragmented opinions.

Here are the top five responses. I list them in order of frequency of response.
  1. Quality. This one issue was a near unanimous response. Church members see the bulletin as a reflection on their church. They are embarrassed when the bulletin has incorrect facts or grammatical errors. They don’t want something in their bulletin to become the next “bulletin blooper.” They want the bulletin to reflect quality, not a gathering place for a collection of ancient clip art.
  2. Sermon notes/outline. Church members want a place to take notes on the sermon, even if the same material is on the projection screen. They want notes they can take home and study. They especially appreciate any helps, such as an outline or references.
  3. Order of service. Frankly, I heard some complaining about this matter. Apparently a number of churches once put the order of their worship services in the bulletin; but they don’t now. Church members miss that in the bulletin and they want it back.
  4. Attendance/stewardship statistics. I thought numbers were being deemphasized in churches. Well, maybe they are, but church members want them back. They want to see the giving patterns and attendance patterns each week.
  5. Announcements. There is a big gap between numbers four and five. If not for its brevity, I could have made this blog about the top four things church members want in a church bulletin. While church members do want some announcements in the church bulletin, they do not want it cluttered with announcements. They prefer for announcements to be on a screen before the services or on the church’s website.