In Brazil, an Adventist Church Throws Away the Bulletin.
This church found that using a mobile app instead of a bulletin to share church news is boosting member involvement. [Reported by Andrew McChesnet]
For many church communicators, ditching the bulletin is impractical. Keeping it going may be impractical as well. 🙂
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. So what do you do?
You need to know who is reading the bulletin and what they are most interested in. Find out by doing a live or digital based survey (e.g. using surveymonkey.com or google forms – both free). Talk about it during a communication forum at your church. Knowing your demographics instead of just assuming is important. I was at college and got my first, “I Wuv yu!^s” text from my then 60-year-old mom. She now lectures me via text like a pro. 🙂 The assumption that a more mature church means we need to keep doing the same things is not always true. It might be true for your audience but you will never know unless you take an audit.
What exactly do they like about the bulletin?
Chances are, most church bulletins are following the same three-fold format that is heavily focused on the proceedings of the day. Others may be heavily focused on church announcements. For those who find the bulletin useful, what info do they care about? And how would this impact on what you include in the bulletin? Is that info already included in other areas?
Who really is your target audience?
I have found the best solution is one that includes a modified bulletin (removing the stuff no one cares about or is found in other places). and including the things that the audience wants but in a very small quantity. This might be something for visitors and members who rely on the bulletin for info and to be informed of what’s happening for that day. So perhaps your target audience is the same. The audit is going to give you some ideas.
What else are they using?
Chances are that a percentage of your bulletin readers are active on and subscribed to your Facebook page. Perhaps, a call or text blast is enough. Many of our crossmrkt.com clients are using text this way. Others, like RPC Adventist Church is using our pocketpew.com mobile app to add the pdfs there. Sligo SDA Church uses Issuu (https://issuu.com/sligochurch) to load up their bulletins. My church pastor sends out an email, and we, at times, post it on Facebook. Faithvox.com is working on this issue by first understanding what does an event mean and what can be included on your website. In most cases, you would need to communicate through more than one of those mediums to be effective. If you are pressed for time or resources, knowing the ones that are working may help you replace or reduce the number of bulletins you have to produce per week.
Education, at times, is about showing respect by not insulting the intelligence of your audience. It’s about getting buy in and being patience. It’s about listening and adapting. Don’t set hard line dates as to when you are going to “modernize” and “go into the 21st century”. We are already here. Be strategic and patient. Perhaps, getting that young kid straight out of college to lead out may not always be the best idea. Educate your church leadership about the value and test as you go. Use data, tact, and love to sell your vision.
Imagine the millennials in 10 years, right? “We always use our mobile app and text to get our message out. It worked for us, why change?” We have a bad habit of sticking with things that are comfortable and familiar. And especially at our churches, we would love to check things off our list and never revisit them again. Unfortunately, church communication is a ministry (not just a role). Ensuring that you are good stewards with your time and resources can directly and indirectly impact your church growth. Revisiting what is working by listening to your audience is important.
So what are you doing that is working for you?