Even with the explosion of communication tools available to churches these days, most of the ones I’ve attended still enjoy printing a regular Sunday bulletin. They make a great tool for visitors, and scores of the less-techy members use them to catch up on ministry goings on.
Since it looks unlikely that church bulletins will be disappearing, at least in the near future, we thought it might be helpful to post a few tips on how to get the most out of them.
1. Watch those spelling and grammar errors!
Proofread, proofread, proofread . . . . it’s a simple thing, but take the time to make sure you’ve caught the typos. Have several different people check it for errors if possible. Sometimes reading through it backwards can turn up mistakes you might have missed otherwise. Nothing negates your credibility like a misspelled word or a dangling modifier. We’ve all gotten that funny e-mail of church bulletin bloopers, but it’s only funny when it happens in someone else’s bulletin! Know any good English teachers? Perhaps you can suggest to them a weekly ministry opportunity!
2. Limit yourself to two or three fonts.
Oh, those fonts are so tempting! They all look so fun—how could you ever decide on just two? But I’ll bet if you look critically at some of your favorite newsletters and magazines that they rarely use more than a few different fonts. Limiting your font choices will help you quiet the visual noise; keep it clean and consistent.
3. Don’t let clip art overtake the inside.
Use only a few pieces of quality (not dated) art or opt to keep it text-only. If you choose to incorporate artwork on the inside, try some abstract photos instead of line art. Cheesy clip art, particularly of Bibles, crosses, etc., will only detract from your message.
4. Leave some breathing room.
Don’t give in to the temptation to fill every nook and cranny with text. Ironically, the more elements of your page that scream for attention, the less attention each one gets. Don’t frustrate your readers; give their eyes a break with a bit of well-placed white space.
I know clearing up space in the bulletin isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Maybe you need to cater to an elderly congregation, so extra large font sizes are the order of the day. Or maybe it’s a particularly busy month around the church. See what you can do to trim down the amount of text you give to each item. Boil it down to the main points and eliminate wordiness. The final product will be worth the effort.
If there’s just no way to clear up any more space, the next tip can still help readability.
5. Give weight to what is most important and make your bulletin easily scannable.
If you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing. Be selective about your use of bold or italic type, ALL CAPS, and exclamation marks!!!! Let the hierarchy of information be absolutely clear so that main points can be easily taken in and absorbed. Make the little details clearly less important.
6. Make your content worthwhile.
Some of the most common content to include would be a listing of your ministries, sermon outline or notes area, upcoming events, testimonies, or prayer requests. (Make sure to check on the privacy of prayer requests.) A Pastor’s welcome statement is great as long as he doesn’t wax too eloquent. . . . Including a verse of Scripture, inspiring quote, poem, or song could promote a meditative start to the service.
Keep your visitors in mind when writing your content. What would be most helpful for them? A brief, warm welcome and an order of the service would probably be appreciated. Avoid printing statistics. Last week’s offering and attendance numbers most likely won’t make a difference to your visitors. And be sure your church contact information appears on the bulletin.
Remember that your long-term content can be printed on the outside of your bulletin shells so you can devote the inside to more time-sensitive content. Always keep the outside in mind to avoid redundancy inside. If your ministry listing and church address are already printed, there is no need to take up space printing them again.
7. Stay consistent.
Take the time to set up a good bulletin template and stick with it. It will be worth the effort. Your readers will know what to expect and will be much more likely to absorb the content if they know where to find it.
That is not to say you can’t try anything new, but make sure that your changes serve a purpose or solve a problem; for example, do you want to draw attention to a piece of content, etc.
8. Finally, remember that your bulletin is just one tool in your arsenal.
Don't forget to publish some of the key content in other places, like on the web, email blasts, power point slides, monthly calendars, and the like.
Hope this has been helpful! Let us know your thoughts in the comments.