This section is an overview of the important parts of your bulletin. In the later parts of my ebook and on my website, I'll give more extended advice on each section along with examples in PDF and video format of what churches are doing that works well in these areas.
Church Bulletin Ideas: Welcome People
One church bulletin idea seems obvious. But it is amazing how few bulletins actually start out with a WELCOME! Put it up front or before the order of service. It can be long or short, but it should be genuine and reflect the tradition of your church. Putting your welcome on the second page or on the back (as I have seen in far too many) doesn't make sense.
Church Bulletin Ideas: PLEASE Give an Order of ServiceAnother seemingly obvious church bulletin idea is an order of service. But I see so many bulletins in my seminars these days that do not contain an order of service. Without one a visitor has no idea what to expect. As Mark Mittlenberg reminds us in his great book, Contagious Christianity, for the average unchurched person to come to your church it is just like it would be for you to attend a Buddhist Temple—we would have no idea what to expect. Be kind; explain things. An order of service is essential for visitors.The style in which you create your order of service isn't nearly as important as that you have enough concrete, clear information in it so a visitor understands what is going on. Style and looks mean nothing if a visitor is lost or confused with what is taking place.
Church Bulletin Ideas: Acknowledge Both Visitors and Members in the Announcement SectionsSome of the best church bulletin ideas that I've seen actually have sections that say "Welcome to Our Visitors" and then go on to give essential details such as the location of the bathrooms, nursery, information table, etc. They also often invite folks for coffee after the service where they can meet folks and ask questions.
It may seem like a small thing and it may upset your schedule, but if you only have coffee BEFORE the church service, that basically says it is for members only or those who know enough to come early. Consider changing it so that people can have coffee and donuts or a snack after church. That makes so much more sense if you want to be available to interact with visitors and answer questions. Record attendance and response to see if it makes a difference with your connection with visitors.
In some of the same bulletins there is often a section entitled something like "Church News." These sections can accommodate visitors and people who don't know every detail of every event by saying something like: "Below are the various events hosted by our church in the coming weeks. Everyone is invited to these activities and we hope you'll attend. If you need more information or have questions, please call the contact numbers listed with each activity."
Church Bulletin Ideas: Don't List Events that Are Closed to Newcomers.
I'll never forget a bulletin that contained a lengthy list of groups that met in this particular church, but the list had no contact information. When I pointed out to the lady who put it together that the contact information was missing for new folks who might want to be part of the groups she replied, "Oh, we don't do that—these are all closed groups and they don't want new members."
That is a terrible church bulletin idea. Don't do that.
Church Bulletin Ideas: Include the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Were, Why
I think it could revolutionize churches all across North America if folks would just be complete with information about events in their church bulletins. This is one of the most important church bulletin ideas.
Church staffs work so hard to put together programs and then if the bulletin leaves out who is putting on the program, what is going on, where it is at, what time it starts and ends, what is the cost and if child care is provided, you will get a much smaller turnout than you want.
Often the reason people don't show up for an event is not because they don't want to or not because they don’t have any spiritual hunger or interest in the things of God. Nor do they not show up because you didn't have a thrilling graphic design on your bulletin or cutting edge typography. People don't show up if it's too much trouble to hunt down the location of an event and if they can't find out if child care is provided.
These facts are essential and you need to repeat them for several weeks for people to respond.
Remember no one will see the bulletin as many times as you do. Because of work and school obligations, many members cannot attend every week.
This is a vital church bulletin idea. Repetition is critical—marketing experts used to tell us that people need to see something SIX times before they remember and respond, but the number of repetitions that people need to see or hear about an event to respond continues to go up.
Think about how often you see a particular advertisement for a product on television. It's difficult to keep track of, but the large number shows how important repetition is. If advertisers who spend thousands on marketing research find it important to have lots of repetitions, if we only tell people about something once or twice, it's easy to see why we may not get a large response.
Later on in my ebook there is information on the importance of including the little details that both explain and illustrate the importance of complete communication of connecting details.
Church Bulletin Ideas: Have a Place for Testimonies and Always Include Information on How to Become a ChristianI've been recommending for years that in every bulletin you put a short piece about how someone becomes a Christian, how that person can come to trust Jesus as their Savior.
You can write up any sort of simple explanation of the gospel message. Here is one used by a church at Christmas, you can modify it and use it yourself at any time of the year:
In the midst of the gifts and goodies we are all enjoying at this time of year, remember the message of Christmas is that God came to earth in the form of a person—Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus grew up not only to become the greatest teacher and miracle worker the world had ever seen, but to die a unique death. In His death, Jesus was not a victim of evil men. Jesus willingly gave up His life and died on the cross so that He could pay the penalty for our sins. His death was His choice and His story doesn't end with His death. Jesus rose from the dead after three days and demonstrated by doing that that He was God.
Continue with a clear challenge of how to respond to the message of salvation, where to find out more and a person, phone number, and email to contact if someone has questions.You can also include bulletin inserts or tracts that explain the message of salvation.
The way you express this will vary depending on your denomination or location, but however you explain it, somewhere in the bulletin itself or with a link to a website, be clear about what it means to be a believer in Jesus and how to become one.
I've put a short video about the importance of your church bulletin having a section that tells people How to Become a Christian that shows several bulletins with great examples in them, plus that gives a list you can use for website links about the Christian faith that you can put into your bulletin.
In addition, there is a short ebook that has the same material. Both are on Effective Church Communication.
Church Bulletin Ideas: Include a Challenge Before Commitment
As our society becomes more and more secularized and as more and more of the people who visit your church may know little about the Christian faith, it is important to provide more than a gospel presentation alone.
Jesus continuously challenged would-be followers to count the cost. We must do the same if we want people to make a genuine decision to become a Christian.
To become a Christian means to follow Jesus daily as Lord; we must not present it as a quick fire-insurance policy we grab and then live however we want.
This is what the Christian faith is all about; this is ultimately why we create church bulletins. To paraphrase a Bible passage: What good does it profit a man to have directions to the potluck and yet lose his soul?
Church Bulletin Ideas: Links to Your Website and Other Digital Resources
The web has given us a level of communication not possible in the past. Here are a few things we can do with it:
Church Bulletin Ideas: Whatever Else You Need to Connect People with Who You Are as a Part of the Body of Christ
Every church has things that make them unique. Think about what makes your church what it is. One church in our area has an exceptional ministry to seniors, another has a great outreach to Single Adults.
Though many churches have these ministries, if your church has one that involves several hundred people and a large list of activities for them, this would be good to feature in the bulletin.
One other church in our area has a fantastic ministry to the homeless. This church has an enclosed courtyard, which they make open to homeless people and their pets during the day. They also serve hot meals and provide shower and laundry facilities. A commitment to the homeless is part of the DNA of this church and should be talked about in the bulletin.
Perhaps there are unique doctrinal or historical aspects to your denomination—people enjoy learning these things. You don't need artificial "branding" schemes to make yourself unique. Be who you are, describe it, and ask the Lord to draw the people to your church who will grow best in the environment you provide. True branding is about consistently and clearly being who you are.
When you are honest and complete in your church bulletin about who you are and what you are about, for a stranger it's a little bit like meeting people who are honest and open. No hidden agendas, this is who they are and what they are about. After a time of interaction, a stranger begins to feel comfortable. A little more interaction and the stranger may conclude they've found a friend and a spiritual home.
You may also want to read about why bulletins are so important and/or how to write your bulletin copy so everyone understands it.
For more instruction, examples and ideas about church bulletins and other church communications, go to: Church Bulletin Ideas: Effective Church Communication.