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 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!