The Reverend's Big Bulletin Adventure
I did something this past week that has felled lesser ministers.
I changed the worship bulletin.
For those pastors out there reading this, I could very nearly hear your audible gasp. And right now your stomach is probably doing flips just to imagine what it would be like to do this in your own church. But you've wanted to, haven't you?
You've hated it... that thing.
You know... That thing that you produce each week that is full of liberally and randomly used Microsoft Clip Art... That thing that you produce that makes the Earth weep each time you run it because of all the trees that died in order to promote the Men's Prayer Breakfast... That thing that has more inserts than a newspaper on Black Friday...
You want to change it, don't you?
Now for those of you non-church-y type folk who might be reading this, I know what you are saying.
Exactly. There are certain things that church-y people do and say that should just go unexplained. Quite frankly, to explain why it is a big deal to change the worship bulletins in church would pretty much keep you from ever wanting to be a Christian. Suffice to say, it's a pretty big deal.
Or so I thought.
The worship bulletin format that we were using utilized 8 1/2 x 14 (Legal) size paper. It had originally been created in Microsoft Word, but recently converted to Publisher. For the record, I hate Microsoft products--especially those that purport to be easy to create and publish stunning documents. The only things stunning about Microsoft produced graphics is their general banality and ugliness.
But I digress.
We were basically using three sheets of legal size paper to create our bulletins, and we also filled them with half sheet inserts. The result was that when you got your bulletin it felt as full as tick, and when it was opened stuff spilled out all over the dang place. We probably killed more trees and used more ink and copy swipes in the past year and half than I would care to know.
It was sin, to be sure.
The first thing I did was make the decision to use 11 x 17 size paper, and to turn it to landscape. I then divided it into three equal sections. The result is a tri-fold bulletin that is able to fit what used to be on six pieces of paper into one.
I then created a template on my Mac using Pages. Once I had the template exactly the right size and filled with pleasing graphics, I converted it into a jpeg and transplanted it into Publisher, so our office staff could use it. All that was needed was a bunch of well placed text boxes and they were ready to go.
You can see the finished product by clicking HERE to visit my website and download it for your ownself. You will have to scroll down a bit until you see "New Bulletin PDF"
Here are ten important things that you will need to know before you embark on this perilous journey.
First: Make sure a picture of the church is on your new bulletin--especially if it has always been there. Here's the picture of my church if you want to use it. It probably doesn't look like your church, but perhaps no one will notice.
Notice that it is a pencil drawing. These seem to be the best kinds of church bulletin cover pictures. At least that's what I have been told by more than a few church going folk.
Second: Make sure that you use fonts that people can actually read. I've discovered that far too many churches believe that the only fonts that God approves of are Courier or Times New Roman.
Here's a news flash. God hates Times New Roman. Hates it.
Use Arial or something that is more rounded and bold. Resist the urge to use edgier fonts to try and attract "the young people." Resist.
And make your font size a little larger if you can. People actually like being able to read the bulletin. I know, it's kooky.
Third: Include lots of contact information. Visitors would love to know how to find your website... You have a website, right? People also like to know who to call when they have a complaint about something in the church. It comforts them, and you definitely want to comfort your people, don't you?
Fourth: Use some of the space in the bulletin to tell the story of your church, and welcome visitors. If you allow children on your church campus (some don't I hear), you might want to include some information on things for children, like children's church, a children's sermon, or whether or not you have crayons for them to put graffiti on the pews. If at this point you are saying, "But our church doesn't have any children, so we don't need those things or such an announcement," you might want to stop and think real hard about what you are saying.
And therein lies your answer.
Fifth: NO CLIP ART. God hates clip art, too. God even hates the clip art with God in it.
Sixth: STOP PUTTING THOSE DANG CHURCH CARTOONS IN THE BULLETIN. I know that you spent a whopping $39.95 for an annual subscription to "Church Newsletter" or whatever service provides you with clip art and cartoons for your bulletins and newsletters. THREE PEOPLE think those things are funny, and one of them is the cartoonist who drew them.
Seventh: Don't clutter your bulletin with useless junk and wordiness. Try to be pithy in your announcements and other assorted bulletin stuff. The average person will look at your finely written 500 word announcement on the upcoming Bake Sale to raise funds for Something Important and will grow weary just thinking about reading it.
Eighth: Include the words to the secret church-y stuff that you do. Here's another newsflash: Not EVERYONE knows the APOSTLE'S CREED. And giving people who don't know the Apostle's Creed directions on how to look it up in the hymnal is just begging them not to come back. They won't look it up and then they will stand there ashamed that they aren't good Christians because they never learned it, or never heard of it before. While you're at it, put the words to the Lord's Prayer in your bulletin and the Gloria Patri if you have those kinds of things as part of your worship service. Christians do quite enough on their own to run people off from church---don't let your bulletin be a "Do Not Enter Sign."
Ninth: Make sure to double check and include all of the events that are scheduled at your church. God help you if you leave something off. Grace abounds in church unless you forget to include The Ladies Auxiliary Monthly Tea & Scrapbooking Gathering. Then your life may be forfeit.
Tenth: Make sure that your final bulletin is thoroughly vetted by as many people as you can find to look at it before you run it. Ask the church staff for feedback. Pick a random Bible study and have them offer their two cents. Grab someone who is walking by outside your church office on the sidewalk and have them give an opinion.
Now that you are fully armed--full of courage and sound advice, go forth and change those worship bulletins. Don't be afraid, you are doing the Lord's work by moving your worship experience (at least the print portion) out of 1982 and into the 21st century.