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By Jonathan Howe

In the comments section of last week’s post on dying practices in church communications, an astute reader mentioned bulletin inserts.

While I wouldn’t classify this as a dying practice, there are some concerns with bulletin inserts. However, since every church bulletin/worship guide/handout is different, sometimes there are benefits to bulletin inserts. And sometimes there are problems with the inserts.

Let me start with the merits of having one or two specific bulletin inserts:

  1. They can help draw attention to special events or giving opportunities. This past week in my denomination was Global Hunger Sunday. Special offerings were collected in churches across the country. One way this was accomplished was through special envelopes which were inserted into bulletins. These special envelopes drew attention to the emphasis and undoubtedly led to greater giving.
  2. Pages for sermon notes are more portable when inserted. Some churches print the notes on the back page of the bulletin. Others offer a blank page for note taking. Some churches offer nothing at all. But the most common practice is to have a half-page insert in the bulletin with the sermon notes on it. Attendees can then file the note pages away for later reference.
  3. Loose connection cards are more likely to be filled out. If you want guests to fill out connection cards, make them simple, freestanding cards that can be inserted into bulletins. The less work guests have to go through to fill out and turn in these cards, the more likely they are to do so.

And now, the down side of having multiple bulletin inserts:

  1. They can create clutter. When there are multiple inserts, there are multiple opportunities for more trash to be left on seats. If you have multiple services, you likely have to sweep the sanctuary to clean up the leftover inserts after every service.
  2. They are often wasted. Like announcements, if the inserts don’t apply to the majority of the church, they will likely be ignored. All the work, time, and expense that go into a bulletin insert need to have a payoff. If the insert gets ignored, you’ve wasted valuable time, energy, and money.
  3. They lessen the importance of special announcements. If you never have a bulletin insert and all of the sudden there is one, it stands out. People take notice and understand that insert is important. If there are four or five inserts every week, nothing stands out. An added insert becomes just another piece of paper and the impact is lost.

Your church ultimately has to decide which is best for you, but I would suggest limiting inserts to as few as possible.

Does your church have multiple bulletin inserts? Do you have too many? Could you do away with some?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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