Tag: bulletin

Why We Got Rid of the Monthly Bulletin

Why We Got Rid of the Monthly Bulletin

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

One of my most popular and asked about blog posts has been why we switched to a monthly bulletin. But it’s been a while since that original post, so I thought I’d share an update on how it worked and why we ultimately got rid of it.

Let’s start with the pros. The monthly bulletin was a great avenue to give a high-level view of what was happening at our church and share stories of life change. It almost read more like a magazine than a bulletin. It did save on our printing costs and reduced time spent preparing a weekly bulletin.

But, even with these benefits, we found the lack of flexibility to change information challenging. It improved our communications planning but, like many churches, last minute changes or events added throughout the month meant we weren’t always producing the most accurate information. Also, our church was going through major changes in our location, staffing, etc. and we needed an additional avenue to get out information quickly on Sunday mornings.

So after a year of the monthly, we switched back to a weekly. But we wanted a format that would still allow us the benefits of the monthly: reduced printing costs and minimal production time each week.

The solution was a bulletin shell designed around the sermon series that focused on first-time guests and included a simple black and white insert with the weekly news and events. This gave the visual appeal of the sermon series design but minimal weekly production to create the promotional insert.  The insert was printed in-house each week to keep printing costs low. We could add weekly changes easily in the insert but keep up the overall quality with a series shell. And, bonus points, we could reuse the left-over shells as long as they were not damaged.

Here’s an example

Here are three takeaways from the monthly bulletin:

1. It’s good to try something new in your church communications! Creating a monthly piece ultimately allowed us to produce a better weekly bulletin because we learned the pros and cons of each.

2. Allow ample time to see how a new channel of communication works. Be patient when you introduce something new. We used the monthly bulletin for a year to get a true sense of the benefits, costs, and results.

3. There’s no magic answer to bulletins. You won’t solve every church communication challenge with one bulletin format over another, so it’s okay to make a change…and change back again!

 

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Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

The bulletin. The word brings dread to church communicators everywhere.

Like many churches, we created, proofed, printed and folded hundreds of bulletins each week only to watch them be tossed into a trash, left in seats or crammed in Bibles to be thrown away later.

Surely there’s a better way!

In January we took the plunge and made the switch to a monthly bulletin.

Now we produce a monthly news that highlights major events and a story. We pass it out on the first Sunday of the month and make it available at our Guest Services all month. Each week we pass out a simple front and back card with our current series branding, information for first time guests and a perforated tear-off for a connection card.

Here are a few reasons why we made the switch.

1. We launched an app
The app is now the primary way for our regular members and attenders to see upcoming news and events. It’s geared toward our internal audience and we continually push people to check the app and use it to connect with us.

2. The bulletin didn’t change week to week
We emphasize small groups, volunteer teams, family ministries and missions. This means we don’t have significant programming changes week to week. If something does come up, there are other effective channels (email, social media, push notifications) we can use to get the word out.

3. It forces us to plan
All communication requests have to be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to be considered for the monthly news. The monthly method eliminates last-minute promotional requests and ensures details are mapped out well in advance.

4. It allows us to share stories
Every month we include a life change story or highlight a mission team. This gives us another avenue to share the mission of our church (connecting people to Jesus for life change), rather than simply pumping out more events and ministry leader requests.

How’s it working so far? Great! We’ve received positive feedback on the switch, saved money and can use time more effectively throughout the week.

There are no formulas for church communications – it all depends on your context and audience. For us, the move to a monthly bulletin has been the right one.

What about you? Does your church do a weekly bulletin? Are you ready to switch to a monthly?

Resources:
Monthly News – Example
Weekly Bulletin – Example

Bulletins Are Not Magic Bullets

The weekly bulletin is a struggle for me. Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of bulletins. I’m from a digital generation so I prefer to read and receive my information online. However, I concede it still can be a valuable tool in church communication.

In my experience, the bulletin is the number one communication request. People always seem convinced that a blurb in the bulletin will result in truckloads of people attending their group or signing up for an event. The bulletin rarely delivers on that expectation. As communicators for the church and advocates for our audience, it’s important to keep the bulletin clear of clutter and take the time to explain why the bulletin is not a magic formula for success.

Here are two reasons why the bulletin is not a magic bullet.

1. The bulletin is a high-level communication piece.

We focus our bulletin on connection points for first time guests and information that impacts 80% of our Sunday morning audience.  Keeping that in mind, it’s unlikely that niche opportunities and specific ministry events will hit the right person. It might but the chances are small.

2. More = less.

The more you cram into your bulletin, the less effective it becomes. Adding every event or happening at your church will not accomplish your objectives or allow your audience to take next steps. More is not an effective communication strategy.

When these requests come though, I try to explain the above and offer alternatives. You can see my post on how to make a no feel like a yes for more about that.

What do you think? How do you keep your bulletin communication clear?

How to Create Bulletins In-House

The weekly bulletin. So many options to choose from. To print in-house or out? Full color or black and white? Tri-fold, bi-fold or half sheet? Or go rogue and ditch the weekly bulletin all together?

My church used to order bulletins that cost thousands of dollars and went straight into the trash can. We decided to bring them in-house to cut costs. First, we want to be good stewards. Second, this freed up our budget for higher impact areas. By doing this, I discovered you can create a simple, well-designed bulletin in-house and it can be just as effective.

Here’s how we create our bulletin in-house: 

photo (8)

Printer
We have  a pretty heavy-duty of a printer. It could be a transformer. If you’re going to do bulletins in-house, make sure you have a printer than can handle the capacity and won’t jam on you. Also, we print with color so we needed a printer that could do that well.

Paper
We use a 28 lb. paper for the bulletins. This seems to be a good weight that’s sturdy but light.

Design
A few volunteer graphic designers update the cover art.

Software
I use Apple Pages to add content to the bulletins.  Here’s an example. We limit our bulletin to 5 events per week. The inside panel is catered to guests with information about where to take their Connection Card and different ministries they can connect with. We offer a blank page inside for note taking. We insert a Connection Card. It’s simple and mostly points people back to the website.

We’ve found a clean and clear bulletin can be created without the expense of a out-of-house printer. I don’t have any problem with churches who do print out-of-house. If you have the designers and resources, that’s great!  But it’s encouraging to know that you don’t need a massive budget to create a great bulletin.

What about you? How do you create your bulletin?