Church Bulletin Covers: A Simple Guide to Design, Layout, and Content
We need to talk about your church bulletin.
I know that probably doesn’t sound like an exciting conversation. In fact, maybe you think it’s about as much fun as organizing the junk drawer in your kitchen.
But if we’re honest, that’s a perfect metaphor for most church bulletin covers. Too often, the church bulletin cover is the junk drawer of church communication. Everything just gets thrown in, and no one wants to sort through the mess. So it just sits there week after week. Something new may get added every once in a while. But the reality is that no one ever looks forward to opening it.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Your bulletin can be an essential part of your church communication. Think about it this way. Every week, you have the opportunity to put something into the hands of every person who walks into your church.
That’s an incredible opportunity!
Your church bulletin can be a powerful communication tool for your church family. It’s a welcome mat for your visitors and an announcement board for you regular attenders. And it’s one of the very first impressions you give anyone who visits your church.
So let’s talk about what how to make the most of your church bulletin. And let’s start by answering the big question: What should go inside?
You’re not going to be able to put everything in your bulletin. It’s impossible. Please don’t try. You’ll have to make some decisions. And there are a lot of decisions to make.
- Is your bulletin going to include an order of worship?
- Will your bulletin include announcements?
- Is there going to be a place for sermon notes?
- What kind of contact information are you going to provide?
- Will it include general information on the ministries of your church? Children’s ministries? Outreach events?
- Is there going to be a welcome message for first-time guests?
- What about giving and attendance information?
- Should you include your church mission statement?
- Will you use it to thank volunteers?
- Are you going to recognize birthdays and anniversaries?
And that’s just a short list. It’s no wonder so many church bulletins are crowded with information and overflowing with inserts. Most of the time, we’re just expecting the poor bulletin to do too much.
To be most effective, you’re going to have to be intentional about what goes into your bulletin. So here are five questions to help you filter through all the possibilities and make the right decisions for your church.
Does it require a response from the reader? If not, it might be better in a different context. Maybe on a pre-service slide? Or at a guest information table?
Of course, not everything in your bulletin will be aimed at a response. But if all of the content in your bulletin is purely informational, it will lack energy. You want the bulletin to lead, mobilize, and inspire your people. It needs to push them toward service, community, and mission. It needs to call them to engage in the life of the church. So keep the majority of your bulletin focused on action and response.
Don’t forget the "Why?” in your church bulletin. Engage the heart, not just the mind.
Most church announcements focus on the key details - what, when, where, and who. And those are obviously important. But don’t forget to explain why you are starting that new ministry or planning that big event.
Your bulletin shouldn’t just be stuffed with information and instructions. It should focus on real people. And real people need inspiration, not just information. We need our hearts stirred. We need to see why these details matter. We need to be reminded about our purpose and our values.
Does it focus on the largest or most important groups in your church? It’s best not to include a lot of information for niche groups in your church (children’s ministry teachers, welcome team, etc.). This will make the majority of your church feel like the bulletin isn’t for them.
Instead, try creating Facebook groups or email lists for volunteer groups and make announcements there. Some churches even use monthly digital bulletins to communicate with volunteers and ministry leaders. This form of communication also allows you to be more direct in your communication, because it’s aimed at a specific group of people.
Your church is not a set of buildings or programs. Your church is a group of people, called to worship Christ and make disciples. Make sure your church bulletin reflects this priority of community.
Along with the normal contact information (phone numbers, social media info, etc.), make sure there is information about connecting with the people in your church. Mention your connection groups. Let people know if you offer counseling.
The gospel doesn’t just save individuals. It gathers a community of worshippers. Your church bulletin should reflect this theological reality. Don’t treat your bulletin like an advertisement written to consumers who are making isolated choices. Call people into biblical community. Make relationships a priority in your communication to your church.
This is an important question to ask yourself about almost every aspect of ministry. It’s easy to get so caught up in the details that we lose sight of the people we are serving. What do the people in your church need to know this week? How can you most help them?
Think about your members and regular attenders. It might be a good idea to talk with some key volunteers and leaders in your church here. Take an informal survey. Find out what people like about your church bulletin right now. Get feedback on what matters most to the people you are serving. If you’re going to make changes to your bulletin, you need to know how it will affect the people who already read it.
Think about your visitors. Part of making your guests feel welcome is removing distractions and confusion. If you can thoughtfully anticipate the questions and needs of your visitors, you will say loud and clear, “We care about you, and we’re glad you’re here.”
At this point, you should have a good idea of what you want to put in your church bulletin. But you still need to know what to do with it. You’re not going to just throw it all back in the junk drawer again.
Your church bulletin design and layout matter because they are the vehicle you use to transfer your carefully crafted content.
So here are a few thoughts on effectively presenting your bulletin content.
Obviously, printing in black-and-white will save you a little money. But the reality is that most people are used to seeing printed materials in color. Every week, they get dozens of full-color advertisements in the mail. So if you want people to take your bulletin seriously, you should definitely make the investment to print at least the outside cover in color.
Don’t feel like you have to use the same bulletin cover year after year. Try something a little different. Even better, keep a few different bulletin design options available for your church and switch them up during the year. You might be surprised at how much of a difference this will make.
You really shouldn’t use more than two fonts for your bulletin content. Anything more than that will be distracting to read. Normally, you’ll use one for headlines and another for everything else. If you’re not sure which fonts to use, there are actually font pairing websites that will help you make those choices.
Switching up your bulletin cover design from time to time is a great idea. But this is not true for the inside layout of your bulletin. You really want the layout of your bulletin to be consistent from week to week. Use a template to set the fonts, margins, and basic outline of the content. Then, use that template consistently. Your people don’t want to play seek-and-find games with your bulletin every week. They should get used to the kind of information they’ll find and the general place to find it.
Your church bulletin layout should be clean, not busy. The old expression is true: less is more. White space is your friend. Don’t cram every inch with graphics and text. You don’t want your church bulletin to overwhelm people. If they feel like there’s too much to process, they’re probably just going to put it down. Your goal is to help them focus on what is really important. People should be able to scan your bulletin and immediately know what’s important.
In a survey that Thom Rainer sent out to church members, he asked one simple question: “What do you want in a church bulletin?” Only one factor received nearly unanimous response: quality. Your people see your bulletin as a reflection on your church. Outdated designs, cheesy clipart, inaccurate information - all of these things affect the quality of your bulletin. Don’t cut corners on quality. It will undermine your communication.
Once you’ve determined the purpose, design, and layout for your church bulletin, your weekly task of creating and printing your church bulletin gets much easier. The junk drawer is organized, and it’s easy to see where everything should go.
Here is a quick, 5-point checklist for making sure your church bulletin is ready to print each week.
Ask yourself: What do I want the person reading this bulletin to do with what they read? How can a first-time guest get connected with people in your church? What about opportunities for discipleship or counseling? Is there a big event coming up that you want everyone to attend? What if someone wants to build relationships with other believers? How can they do that?
You want to create easy on-ramps for the most important ministries and opportunities. Make sure the directions in your bulletin are pointing the way. Some churches use a “Top 5” concept for announcements. This forces you to focus on only the most important next steps for your church family. This will also keep your announcements focused on events in the next few weeks.
Many churches use their bulletins for weekly announcements, but many bulletin announcements scare people away. People just don’t want to have to dig through a 3-paragraph announcement to find out if it’s something that’s relevant for them.
Consider creating a simple style guide to help you structure your announcements. We found a great template for church announcements that might help get you started.
This is not optional. Nothing detracts from a message like misspelled words and confusing sentences. You don’t want your bulletin typo to make it on the next bulletin blooper list.
So enlist multiple people to proofread your bulletin. These people don’t need to be full-time staff. If you have a smaller church, find a retired teacher who is willing to help. If you’re really struggling to find help, invest in an online service. It will be worth the small investment.
Bulletin inserts are a great way to highlight information for your church family. One huge benefit of bulletin inserts is that they can often be re-used in future weeks. For example, an invite card for a future event can be placed in the bulletin for multiple weeks leading up to the event. Many churches also include connection cards or visitor cards in their bulletins.
But be careful here. With bulletin inserts, it’s very easy to have too much a of a good thing. On any given Sunday, it’s best not to have more than a couple inserts in your bulletin. You don’t want your church bulletin exploding all over visitors.
If you’re looking for some great designs, check out the church bulletin covers from ProChurch. Choose a design style, edit with your church info, and place your order. Don’t underestimate your church bulletin. It’s a powerful tool for communicating with your church.