It is amazing to look at the total resources of time and money expended on church bulletins. Because bulletins seem to be such a trivial issue, we often fail to consider their impact or lack of impact. In reality, the impact is greater than we might imagine. Not only do we expend significant resources on bulletins, both guests and members tend to have pretty strong feelings about them.
Our team has been observing some major trends regarding bulletins. Here is what we found thus far.
- Most churches today still use church bulletins. They are important, if not necessary, according to most church leaders today. Churches under 100 in attendance are more likely not to use bulletins.
- Church bulletins go by many different names today. Smaller churches tend to still call them bulletins. For churches 200 attendance and higher, there is great variety in the names: worship folder, worship guide, information guide, and many more.
- There is an obvious level of frustration among some leaders and members about the contents of church bulletins. The most common frustration is about what content is included and excluded. The second most common frustration is content that is old and dated.
- There are three common usages of church bulletins. The three most common usages are: order of worship; church metrics or statistics; and sermon notes.
- Most churches use greeters to hand out bulletins. These persons are also called ushers in some churches. The distribution of the bulletin is considered an act of hospitality or greeting in many churches.
- Most guests expect to be handed something when they walk in the worship center. So church leaders should realize that the bulletin is an opportunity to connect with those guests.
- The digital revolution and the green movement have not significantly impacted the use of bulletins. Most churches still provide paper bulletins.
- Another frustration among some church members is a sloppy bulletin, particularly one that has grammatical errors. An entire genre of funny things written in church bulletins has been an offshoot of these error-prone publications.
Certainly in the context of important facets of corporate worship, church bulletins likely will not rise to the top. But because they are so pervasive, and because they do impact so many people, they should not be ignored either.
What has been your experience with church bulletins? What would you like to see changed? I look forward to hearing from you.