Five Things Church Members Want in a Church Bulletin

April 8, 2013

When you walk in most church worship services, you are typically handed some printed material. It goes by different names, but the most common and the longest standing name is “bulletin.”

There was a time that you could expect consistency in bulletins among many churches. Such is not the case today. There are differences of opinion and a variety of ideas about what should be in the church bulletin.

Rather than speculate, we conducted an informal survey among church members. We asked one simple and open-ended question: “What do you want in a church bulletin?” The respondents could give as many answers as they liked. There was much agreement on the first four items. Beyond the top four was considerably fragmented opinions.

Here are the top five responses. I list them in order of frequency of response.

  1. Quality. This one issue was a near unanimous response. Church members see the bulletin as a reflection on their church. They are embarrassed when the bulletin has incorrect facts or grammatical errors. They don’t want something in their bulletin to become the next “bulletin blooper.” They want the bulletin to reflect quality, not a gathering place for a collection of ancient clip art.
  2. Sermon notes/outline. Church members want a place to take notes on the sermon, even if the same material is on the projection screen. They want notes they can take home and study. They especially appreciate any helps, such as an outline or references.
  3. Order of service. Frankly, I heard some complaining about this matter. Apparently a number of churches once put the order of their worship services in the bulletin; but they don’t now. Church members miss that in the bulletin and they want it back.
  4. Attendance/stewardship statistics. I thought numbers were being deemphasized in churches. Well, maybe they are, but church members want them back. They want to see the giving patterns and attendance patterns each week.
  5. Announcements. There is a big gap between numbers four and five. If not for its brevity, I could have made this blog about the top four things church members want in a church bulletin. While church members do want some announcements in the church bulletin, they do not want it cluttered with announcements. They prefer for announcements to be on a screen before the services or on the church’s website.

Are you surprised by these top five? What would you add to the list?

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142 Comments

  • I think that there is a happy medium for the order of service. Instead of listing the titles of the songs, we just say, “Worship Songs.” Not much detail, but enough so people visiting have an idea of what’s next. I was also surprised that attendance made it on the list. We have never put attendance in the bulletin, and in my 24 years of working in our church office, I don’t recall anyone ever asking for it.

  • JANE A PIERPONT says on

    To err is human…. I personally like a brief order of service….
    I like to prepare and have my Bible marked… because I also write in my offertory and closing as the pastor’s (85 husband and 81 year old wife, secretary pianist )… needs all the reminders I can get to do it right. I use it for people’s request… new birthdays and things I can make note of that I need to add or change in the next bulletin or pass on to the pastorl. There is JOY in serving Jesus… Keep on keeping on!

  • Did they ask a bunch of old folks, the bulletin should have info for the “members” but it should also be for the visitor.

  • Our order of service does not include every song and scripture reading. What it includes could be considered the “movements” in the service. Here is what it looks like in our bulletin.

    God’s Holiness – Call to Worship
    Our Sinfulness – Confession
    Peace with God – Greeting
    Commitment to God – Offering
    God’s Word – Sermon
    Word of Blessing – Benediction

    It’s aligned nicer in the bulletin. I learned to do this from a Worship Director that taught at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is now an Executive Worship Director for Florida Baptist Jacksonville. On days that we do communion, we add that in also as “Remembrance of Christ – Communion.”

  • Our order of service does not include every song and scripture reading. What it includes could be considered the “movements” in the service. Here is what it looks like in our bulletin.

    God’s Holiness – Call to Worship
    Our Sinfulness – Confession
    Peace with God – Greeting
    Commitment to God – Offering
    God’s Word – Sermon
    Word of Blessing – Benediction

    It’s aligned nicer in the bulletin. I learned to do this from a Worship Director that taught at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is now an Executive Worship Director for Florida Baptist Jacksonville. On days that we do communion, we add that in also as “Remembrance of Christ – Communion”

  • For me, you left off one of the most important things a church can do for its members and that is a prayer request list. Prayer request can be for anyone that saved or unsaved.

  • Marge Humphrey says on

    Very interesting. I am 83. Been a Dir., Music Ministries for 25 years and in all types of Church work at the same time. I am presently in a small SBC that is made up of Senior Adults only. I would like some bulletin ideas for layouts that would be sharp, to the point and God inspired. Does anyone have any thing I could look at?
    We moved one year to a small town – I went on a Monday morning to several churches to see if I could pick up a bulletin from the day before. One had a bulletin with a misspelled word – we never attended that church. It was simply not an option to me. If you are showing one soloist who had planned to do the special but they became ill, that is far different than a misspelled word. Sorry. I feel that we must do our best and not assume that it’s okay – no one will probably notice it. It is usually indicative of many other things that will be swept under the carpet, so as to speak. I might also add, in an all Sr. aged church, many do not, will not, don’t want to have a computer, or a cell phone. We need to consider them as much as we do in a larger church where by we need programs for children. Please if any one could send me some bulletin samples from small churches (around 85 in attendance) and which is al Sr. Adults, I would be so grateful. Mega Blessings.

    • Did you get any examples? I can send you ours if you’d like to take a look. We are a small SBC church in southern Illinois. About 70-85 attending and 90% Senior Saints.

  • I am the bulletin maker for a very small Baptist church. Our church runs about 60 on Sunday mornings. In our bulletin, we place the church information and contact address and phone number. We have a list of all announcements and activities for the month and a list of prayer requests. Our small church is a family, and the prayer requests are an important part for us. I know large churches may not be able to do so. The other items I put in the bulletin is whatever the Lord leads me to. I always place a Verse of the Week to dwell upon. The rest is up to the Lord. I place quotes, lines from songs, other verses. The Lord always shows me what is needed. I believe any bulletin maker is correct as long as the Holy Spirit is leading them. I hope and that God can use me to speak to church members and visitors alike to come to Him. I believe that should be the only reason for me to create a bulletin. May I always be sensitive to His Spirit for what the Church and unchurched need to hear and see.

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