Should Churches Print Bulletins?

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A couple years back, the article Church Bulletins Are Awful was posted on The Network. The article generated some discussion at the time but I'm still thinking about it. My church went paperless a couple years ago and truth be told, I don't miss the bulletin. My general opinion is that bulletins create unnecessary waste and we now have better ways to engage members and visitors (i.e. email, social media, etc.). 

I'm curious what YOU think! Does your church print a bulletin? Do you think it should? Why or why not? 

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Our church has several members who do not have computers or smartphones, so for that reason we still need a printed email.

We print a few bulletins - some are snail mailed to our shut ins, which they all appreciate. Some we have on Sunday for people who are visitors  - we can't assume they'll check us out on social media, our website or give us their email right away to be added to our list. We leave the extras out during the week for people to pick-up who are in our building for groups, etc. We have several groups who use our space, with attendees who are not members, so we use the bulletin, filled with news as well as the order of worship, as a huge communication tool. The bulletin goes up on our website each week with the link emailed out to our email list as well; not everyone has a printer so the ones that don't also appreciate picking up a printed one on Sunday. I don't think we can ever over-communicate or over-accommodate as we work to evangelize and grow the family of God.

We still print bulletins and believe we should for those who don't have computers or smartphones.  Having said that I think another question to ask is what is included in our bulletins. 

When I am a guest in another church, I very much appreciate knowing what is coming next. I suspect that is true of guests in our churches as well. I can't think of any good way to communicate that other than a printed bulletin

Yes. But as a tool for using the hymnal. Why congregations that have hymnals which include the liturgical settings as well as service music and obviously the hymns, turn around and print out everything is puzzling. I don't like bulletins that provide the entire service, it's wasteful. By all means include all the parts and pieces of the liturgy and the hymns, and indicate what pages to find them on. Include an insert with the readings and any special hymn that is not in the hymnal or supplement. At the end include the prayer concerns list and the upcoming activities for the week, as well as contact info for the congregation so new people have that handy.  Bulletins using 1 sheet of 8.5"x14" paper work.  Creating a bulletin using 11"x17" paper, using 3 or 4 sheets per bulletin when there are hymnals isn't good stewardship of resources, nor is it very ecologically responsible.

 

  I don't understand why a church would not print some bulletins. Nowadays we make our churches as accessible as possible with wheelchair ramps, handicap washrooms, hearing devices, brail signage and more. Why not be welcoming of those who do not have technology or even those who choose not to embrace technology. A printed bulletin is a simple and easy way to be inclusive. Kids tend to like reading the bulletin too.

We have a weekly newsletter that is for our members that gets emailed, but I do send printed copies to the seniors who do not have email.  These are for membership as they have names printed and due to privacy policy we cannot have that out for the public.  Sundays we have the order of worship only.  We do have a welcome centre with items for each ministry and group.

I'm not a senior, and I do have access to a computer and email.  However, I'm inundated with social media messages and emails, and so I'd say I stop to read our electronic church bulletin roughly 25 percent of the time -- and even then it's just to scan it.  When it was printed, I read it word for word, usually as I was waiting for the service to start.  Not sure if that justifies printing, but I have to believe there are a lot of people of ALL ages who are on electronic overload and therefore are missing out on a lot of important updates.   

It's like the "tower of babel" out there with our very senior (paper + large print), church mail boxes, USPS....then email, text, Kakao Talk (Korean),  FB page, Instagram, e-vite events + paper invitations, zoom meeting invitations (or Face time, What's app, Google meets,..... & MORE).   The "question" is posed as "yes or no". Once one chooses "NO" then, how does a church ensure ALL folks are included-connected? OR, is it OK that some become disconnected or just hard of hearing? Not and easy decision today and I suspect, in the future it will get more complicated rather than less as "tech advances" ;-).

I know our members use "ALL of the above" to connect with other members or those new to our congregation and still hear, "I didn't get that!"  :-(.

We have been putting the bulletin out via e-mail during the CV crisis. Our bulletin Editor is planning to go to Europe for her sabbatical and no one has offered to take her place yet.  Although there are many ways to get 'news' via the computer, it would take effort to prepare something and send it out via e-mail.

 

Guide

I love that this conversation is happening! I want to quickly add that it's best to know your audience. If your church is much older, typically a bulletin is a great way to communicate (and offer accessibility options). If your church trends a bit younger, bulletins may be less necessary. Add in the context for online/hybrid church, and there can be a lot of ways to effectively communicate the same information!

Keeping in touch with its members should be of utmost importance to all churches. That being said, no church is like the one down the street and what works for others may not work for them when it comes to church bulletins.

 

The Bridge App has proven to be a solid solution to churches in Canada and the US that have signed up to use it. When the church administrator creates a church bulletin it can easily be uploaded to The Bridge App for all members in the church to see. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg! Any other communications from the church to its members can flow through the app. Based on input from churches, features like Prayers, Announcements, Bible, Church Directory, Watching of Sermons, Events Calendar, Devotions and processing of Donations can all be achieved. Most churches do not need to pay for the use of the app as the cost is covered by their classis. 

 

The mission of The Bridge App is simple - to create a bridge between ministry resources and local churches and their disciples, with an aim to strengthen individuals within the local church context.

 

For more information, contact us at: [email protected].

Without printing the weekly church bulletins many around us would not be connected to the church.

We post them electronically but also bring them to people who have no internet service. In fact, we are using now more bulletins than before the pandemic.

I get the point of 'wasting paper' and I'm all onboard with that.  Still, when you live somewhere like we do a person needs to be perhaps a bit more inventive.

Success in being completely paperless.

 

John Greydanus

 

At present, yes, paper bulletins are still necessary for our older members...although our secretary I believe has cut down on the numbers to conserve paper...