Is Your Worship Bulletin a Primary Tool to Reach Guests?

In many circles, the church worship bulletin or worship folder is perceived to be old school, the tool of staid and traditional churches. Leaders with such a perspective are missing an incredible opportunity to put something in the hands of guests that, at least anecdotally, increases the chances they will return.

It is for that reason that I see the church bulletin to be first for guests. While church members can benefit from it, the most effective use comes from those who are new to your church. I thus note nine essentials for church bulletin with the guest in mind.

  1. Worship times. Many bulletins are retained for future use. It is thus imperative for the worship times to be prominent in them.
  2. Physical address of church. You want to encourage the guest to return, so include the physical address of the church for their GPS.
  3. Website and social media links. This is a primary means of communication for our culture. Your church must be speaking that language, and guests need to know where to find you online.
  4. Email, and telephone contact. Make certain there is an email and telephone contact so the guest can get more information on the church. Also, make certain someone responds quickly to any inquiries.
  5. Prayer request contact. I encourage all churches to have some type of prayer line, either email or telephone. Many guests to your church will communicate with you through a prayer line before any other means. Make certain those contacts are in the bulletin, and make certain you have someone responding promptly to them.
  6. Sermon notes. I have been surprised at the number of guests who are eager to take notes during the sermon. They expect to have a place to take notes.
  7. Major events. Never clutter a bulletin with a multitude of events and regularly scheduled activities. Most of the time, the event should be an event for everyone, and should be considered of major value to the congregation.
  8. Vision or mission statement. This (hopefully) succinct statement will communicate to the guests what really matters at your church.
  9. Order of service. Some churches have gotten away from putting the order of service in the bulletin. I think that’s a mistake from a guest-friendly perspective. Guests may not have a clue what’s taking place in the worship services. Make certain they have a clue.

One item that may seem like an obvious omission is a guest registration card. We have found that these cards are more effective if they are placed as loose cards in the bulletin, rather than perforated cards the guest must tear off.

Again, let me emphasize that the bulletin is a primary tool to connect with guests. If you have abandoned this practice because it does not have a cool factor, please reconsider. It’s making a huge difference in churches that are using it intentionally to reach out to guests.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

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