8 Tips for Preparing the Church Bulletin
Advice on how to approach the many details of this communications tool.

One of the tasks I have serving on the church staff is to help produce the bulletin every Sunday. The bulletin, or "program" as some places call it, lists the events of the day and week as well as any other upcoming events or news to promote regarding our different ministries. It also includes nursery workers for the week, Bible-reading schedules, financial shortfalls, my pastor's article, health needs in our church family, among many other pieces of noteworthy information. From time to time, inserts are also included.

For guests and visitors, the bulletin is a bird's-eye view into a church they might know nothing about, a first impression of sorts. For church family and friends, it's the schedule they align with theirs. The bulletin, then, becomes more than just a hodgepodge of information; it's a printed tool for the ministry.

Here are some tips for preparing the church bulletin:

  1. Spell check, even names. Most Microsoft programs have a built-in spell-checking program, which is great. But be careful with words that are automatically changed that should not be, such as "pastoring" which is sometimes automatically changed to "pasturing," among other words. Another example: "soul winning" is two words ("soul-winning" when an adjective and "soul winning" as a noun). However, some other programs do not have that tool. Regarding names, try your best to find out the correct spelling–is it Aimee, Amy, or Amie?
  2. Have another pair of eyes look at it. When you're working on something for an extended period of time, the mind will make allowances for any mistakes. It's not that you don't see the mistakes–your eyes are working fine–it's just that your mind knows what the content is and should be and inadvertently skims over any possible errors.

    In our ministry, anything that goes to press is proofed by another set of eyes. This allows us to catch all the little mistakes people miss because they've been looking at the same data for long periods of time.
  3. Confirm information. It might take a few telephone calls and e-mails, but it's always best to include the most updated information you can get. Is the activity still a go? Is this the right info? Where do the people meet? My pastor says that people should be able to rely on the bulletin.
  4. Include activity locations, start/end times, activity fees, and childcare notes, if applicable. Include where people should meet if there are different locations where departure is possible. Also include a contact name so that members can contact the appropriate person for further details as needed. When listing upcoming events, put them in chronological order.

    When listing dates and times, try to use the same format. For example, "The Ladies' Tea will be Thursday, November 17, at 9:00 a.m ..." The next event should probably read like "Join Pastor Trieber for a workday on Saturday, November 19, at 1:00 p.m ..." and not like "This Saturday, which is the nineteenth, Pastor Trieber will have a workday at 9:00 in the morning ..."
  5. Be conservative with the number of fonts. Apart from the one main font I use for text, I use two or maybe three additional fonts at the most and even then, very moderately.
  6. Use only appropriate pictures. There are millions of stock photos available, but not all of them are appropriate for the church bulletin.

    On a related note, if possible, graphics should be the same type–if you are using pictures, stick with picture-type graphics–clipart with clipart, black-and-white illustrations with black-and-white illustrations. Of course, this is not possible with everything, but it helps make the bulletin appear more cohesive.
  7. When including inserts, choose appropriate paper colors. For example, we try to stay away from reds and greens when it's not the Christmas season and oranges and browns when it's not autumn.
  8. Consider the bulletin as a whole. Is it aesthetically pleasing to the eye? Are there any margin errors or unnecessary blank spaces? Does anything stand out that should not? Do the announcements make sense? Are there misplaced modifiers that might be confusing? Is there something missing or something that should be added?

Lastly, we all make mistakes. I still do and cross my fingers, hoping they weren't too obvious. The great thing about memory is that we can remember what those mistakes were and learn from them. We can get up and try not to make them again. (Moving forward, I know for a fact that I will never mistype Acts again. It wasn't something long like Deuteronomy or II Thessalonians; it was Acts!)

This post first appeared on North Valley News, a ministry of North Valley Baptist Church. Used with permission.

Keep your congregation informed about the rules for substantiating charitable contributions by ordering the2014 Charitable Contributions Bulletin Insertsby Richard Hammar. The insert is designed as a one-page summary explaining the rules of most importance to church members and can fit easily in church bulletins, newsletters, or contribution statements. The inserts are available in quantities of 100 or can be purchased for electronic download. Call 1-800-222-1840 or visit ChurchLawAndTaxStore.com to order.

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