Along came computers, so text no longer had to be pasted, and limited collections of online clipart replaced printed catalogs. Christian designers also had access to software that allowed them more creativity and a quicker way to produce higher quality materials en masse.
Still, church bulletins were lacking pizzazz and were mostly intended to provide people with times for services and seasonal holiday programming. Basically, church leaders were pleased to have something to hand out as people walked through their doors. Over time, however, many church members lost interest in reading church bulletins because they had all but memorized the contents. Instead, the bulletins tended to get lost amid the pages of Bibles, or left on pews. In some cases, the only value a church bulletin had was providing information to visitors and newer members.
Over the past few years, church bulletins have evolved. With new technology and an increase in available online art and photographs, church bulletins are now better designed and more pleasing to the eye. And for many churches with a clear vision and mission, the contents of bulletins can represent the heart of the church, offer relevant information and communicate a message to the congregation.
Marketing professionals would say that church bulletins have become branding opportunities -- a way for churches to spread the word about who they are, what they believe and what they teach and preach. Therefore, it makes sense to carefully plan the content and design of a church bulletin.
The following are some things to consider when working to increase the value of the bulletin and move it to the next design level:
- Excellence should be the standard. Christians are ambassadors for Christ who gave his best. While many church bulletins are produced by volunteers, it is important to give one's best in order to produce high quality materials that make a positive impression on the church community.
- First impressions are lasting impressions. When producing a church bulletin, the cover is one of the most important features because it is the first thing seen. Make sure the cover is well designed and memorable. Use beautiful photos or relevant clipart, available from a wide variety of Christian-oriented web sites.
- Promote the church brand. Work to promote the pastor's vision of the church and be consistent. This may require an interview with the pastor or a review of church materials, including brochures, videos and web sites.
- Include information that will be useful to strangers. When planning text, consider the bulletin as an outreach tool. Ask yourself what a stranger should know about the church and what will motivate them to visit.
- Include the week's sermon topic with a brief devotion. The goal of a sermon is to invoke thought. Adding some notes about the sermon provides members with reminders of the message, and gives them some additional devotional material on the subject.
- Proofread carefully to prevent typos and design flaws. Mistakes happen, but typos and careless designs on a weekly basis are not acceptable. Develop a system of proofreading to ensure that several sets of eyes have reviewed the draft.
- Include news and updates. Church members want to know what is happening in the church. Use the bulletin to announce fundraising goals, missionary updates and other relevant information.
- Feature a member once a month. Christians love to read about people they know or are part of their church community. These features can be testimonies, stories of valuable service, or describe works of the ministry.