Let me start out with a thought … if you’re using screen technology, a worship bulletin is a colossal waste of resources. Why do you need a bulletin to follow the Responsive Reading? I mean, it’s up there on the screen? Besides, your office manager probably spent an hour typing it up, proofing it, printing it, folding it, and then putting it where it can be found for Sunday. Never mind the paper and toner and power that was used to print it (can we say poor stewardship of natural and some unnatural resources?).

Never mind … most churches are apparently married to their bulletins, so let me ask you a question: Who’s your bulletin really for? Your long time members are so used to the order of service, they could keep up with their eyes closed. In fact, some of them have their eyes closed!

I contend that the bulletin primarily exists, or should exist, for your visitors and guests. They don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know what’s coming next. And if you’re going to have a bulletin anyway, you might as prepare it as a handy guest-friendly program.

What would that look like?

For most churches, it would begin with a rework of the template that’s been used for the last few years. Scrub it down and cleanse it from anything and everything that would be confusing or irrelevant to someone who’d never been to a worship service.

  • Remove or define every Christianese word (your unchurched neighbors don’t know what a doxology or an introit is – and expunge to words narthex and chancel – pretty much no one outside the church has any ideas what, or where, those are)
  • Tell them where to find the words to songs, prayers, etc. (Yes, tell them the Lord’s Prayer is On The Screen, etc.)
  • Keep the order of service section simple … delete unnecessary information like who arranged your prelude or the name of the hymn’s tune
  • Use the rest of the bulletin to advertise your upcoming events, to share brief testimonies, and so on
  • Don’t advertise events that everyone isn’t invited to … let the committee chair notify their committee members of upcoming meetings, etc.

Once you’re done, show the bulletin to your most unchurched friend and ask them for their feedback. If they’re confused by anything, rework it. If they’re not enticed to attend at least one upcoming event, rework your marketing (or add something guest-enticing to your schedule).

A good bulletin, if there is such a thing, does two thing: (1) It provides direction for those who are unfamiliar with the path; and (2) It entices readers to get further involved. Eliminate anything that doesn’t further these two things.