Many churches have stopped handing out printed bulletins. During the pandemic, churches couldn’t distribute printed bulletins because attendance moved online. When we returned to in-person worship, many stopped handing out printed materials.
The church didn’t fail because of it, but no doubt some of your members are missing the printed weekly reminder of events, prayer requests and other announcements.
If the church doesn’t need a printed bulletin, how do people find out what’s going on? Is it even possible?
Yes. And here are three reasons why you might not need a printed bulletin:
- Ministry cost savings. Consider the design and layout time (which equate to cost), the cost of paper and the cost of printing multiple copies. A lot of our church resources go into the manufacturing and distribution of the printed bulletin. It would be one thing if the worship guide adequately informed our members — but almost two-thirds of those who receive the bulletin don’t even look at it. There has to be a better option for a church to educate members about things to do and know. There is!
- Preferred digital alternatives. Most of us had to use other information options during COVID-19. The easiest replacement was producing a PDF that was downloadable via email, social media or a website. But did people like it? Most don’t prefer to download PDFs or to navigate through them online. Plus you still have to account for the design, editing and layout time. And information on a PDF isn’t very functional.
Best digital alternative
What is the best digital alternative?
A website allows people to discover dynamic information easily. Every church needs to have a trusted, simple website with an event and news area. With the help of digital magic (via meta tags), ministry events and news items can automatically appear on a convenient calendar — or even better — on the ministry pages they pertain to. More people will discover them there than in a printed bulletin that’s only scanned!
- Changeability and portability. The most practical reason a church doesn’t need a printed bulletin is that once the information is printed and ready for distribution, nothing can be easily changed. If an error is caught, or a ministry event needs last-minute changes on a digital platform, it can be done quickly with no cost implications.
Because most people have gotten used to visiting websites to discover what they need when they need it, it’s not a hard ask to tell people to visit the website for information.
Remember, almost everyone has the convenience of your website in their pocket, purse or on a nearby desk. No longer do they have to search for the printed bulletin. And if you have someone who really misses the printed copy, see if it’s possible to print a calendar for that individual at the first of the month. It might take a little effort, but it will go a long way to helping that person stay on track.
NOTE: Going digital with a church bulletin requires three things: a good, easy-to-navigate website, a pastor who supports it and refers to it as a trusted source for all church-related information and a reminder mechanism for pointing people to the website regularly. This reminder is usually a weekly email with links or a stage announcement with someone referring interested members to the website for additional details.
Hosted Church, a service offered by TAB Media Group, is a one-stop shop designed to help churches or other ministries get a website up and running. For information, visit hostedchurch.com or call 205-870-4720.
To read more stories from Mark MacDonald, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mark MacDonald is a communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of Center for Church Communication, empowering 10,000+ churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, & social media. His book, Be Known for Something, is available at BeKnownBook.com.