Pretty much… none.

My philosophy about church bulletins (i.e. worship folders, programs, brochures, handouts, etc.) has changed a lot over the years. A decade and a half ago, I wanted it to be as large and stuffed with information as possible. It was my way of thinking bigger than our church was at the time.

Now, I want our weekly bulletin to be as small as possible, with as few announcements as possible. In fact, here’s a photo of our current bulletin.

Grace Hills Church Bulletin Sample

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That’s it. NO actual “announcements” are included. At least, not the kind you’d normally think of. We print this on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of card stock, both sides, cut them in half, and hand them out. It’s a single half-sheet, sturdy enough to take notes on. And, we print one bulletin per sermon series and only change it during the series if something drastically changes and needs to be communicated.

Why is it so slim on information?

It’s all about who it’s for!

We print a Sunday bulletin with one person in mind – the guest. We want our guests to know that they belong, that we have next steps for them, that we don’t want their money and that we want them to know what to expect.

The weekend bulletin is really just an excuse to greet people with something printed. It offers the basic next steps, how to find out more, and how to stay in the loop.

We’re also very aware that every announcement is a “signal” that gets sent to the minds of those who are reading or listening. Our minds only have room for so many signals. So if you want people to remember two or three things, in particular, don’t tell them to remember five or eight or thirty things.

In fact, if you’ll notice, every piece of information in the bulletin actually has a short hyperlink that leads to an information page online that is mobile-friendly. Sometimes, that short link forwards to a Facebook Event so people can RSVP and share. Sometimes, it leads to a page of our website dedicated to a certain ministry. But our goal is to get people to engage with us online, beyond Sunday, so that we can communicate throughout the week with everyone.

So where do we announce stuff?

Here’s how we see it.

There are announcements that everyone needs to hear, and those are included in the bulletin, which everyone gets. Then, there are announcements only pertinent to regular attenders, which we communicate through various other means, including:

  • Our email list.
  • Our open Facebook group (not our main Facebook page).
  • Our mobile app (including one push notification per week).
  • Our website, especially the events page and the blog.
  • Some slides that cycle as people are coming in.
  • Our various Facebook “sub”-pages (men, women, students, kids, etc.).
  • Word-of-mouth, especially through small groups.

Does it work?

Not perfectly. Sometimes, someone is unaware of something happening. But we rarely hear about it. We’ve spent a long time creating a culture where people don’t expect to be spoon-fed and taken by the hand and personally led through every event.

We’re always learning and tweaking. I may have to scrap this blog post a few months from now when we flip our strategy on its head. But for now, we’re confident that growth is happening because we’re able to communicate the big signals to the many and the smaller signals to the few.

Also, here’s a link to Graphic River’s collection of church bulletin templates!

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