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Q+A :: How often should you change a church bulletin design?

Kent Shaffer —  January 5, 2012

QUESTION:
Q+AHow often would you change a church bulletin cover or bulletin look?
- Mark :: South Carolina

ANSWER
It really depends on each church’s resources and the cultures of the church leadership, the congregation, and the people they are called to reach.

Personally, I think bulletins are a waste of money, so I recommend trying to get rid of them altogether or condensing them to 3.5″x7″ cardstock with announcements on one side and contact info/prayer card/visitor card on the other side.

However, for a variety of reasons that is not an option for most churches. Here are some ideas for you to mix and match:

  • Custom Everything Bulletin per Series ($$$$)
    Some churches have gorgeous tri-fold or quad-fold church bulletins designed weekly by designers who win ADDYs. The front cover features a custom graphic that changes with each series. The bulletin layout and dimensions change every few months. Special event graphics inside are custom designed. And each week’s announcements are carefully limited in length and placed to create a look as seamless as a brochure. The cardstock is premium and that value is noticeable to the touch. The visitor card is on an inside perforated flap, and there is a place for notes. Sometimes the church splurges to get a special embossing, spot varnish, or foil stamping on the cover. The printer is the best local shop. This approach while aesthetically marvelous costs about $1 per bulletin printing if ordering gigachurch quantities, and that does not include the cost for the graphic designers and copywriters.
  • Custom Bulletin Template per Series ($$$)
    A more affordable custom approach is to custom design the church bulletin cover for each sermon series and then print the weekly announcements on the inside. The frequency of a designing and printing a new cover design with every sermon series will still be costly, but the bulk printing of the bulletin template will help cut costs. Be aware, however, that bulletin templates can often make the announcements look more awkwardly pieced in than seamlessly stitched.
  • Premade Free Bulletin Template per Series ($$)
    A handful of websites offer free downloadable sermon series graphics. Sometimes these design packages come with bulletin templates. Either way you may very well still have to rework the file to make it work for your church’s needs. This is a great solution for cutting graphic design and printing costs, but the value is really in how you approach it.
  • Pre-printed Paid Bulletin Template ($$)
    While not versatile in customization, pre-printed bulletin templates have been a popular choice among small churches. They streamline production costs and are easy to use. However, be careful; there are a lot of ugly preprinted bulletin templates that do more harm than good.
  • Custom Bulletin Template per Season ($)
    Custom design the church bulletin to reflect your church brand rather than a sermon series, and you can bulk print a year’s worth of bulletin shells at a great rate. Use the money you saved to build a well.
  • Custom Card per Series ($$)
    Most bulletins quickly end up in the garbage, so consider streamlining your announcements into a simple sheet of cardstock front and back. The front can feature the sermon series graphics or a sermon outline, and the back can have the announcements. With a high quality printer and a good paper cutter, you can print these in-house with three 3.5″x7″ bulletins to each page.
  • Custom Card per Year ($)
    Ditch the tri-fold and the sermon series graphics, and use a single sheet of cardstock to list announcements on one side. Use the other side to feature church information, a prayer request card, or a visitor card. You can professionally bulk print a year’s worth of the church information side.
  • Projection Screen Videos ($$)
    Videos take time to create but can be a fast and fun way to make announcements. These can get pricey if too many paid staff members get involved. However, it will still likely be cheaper than most printed solutions. Don’t be boring, cheesy, awkward, or embarrassing. There is an art to good videos. Check out Whitney George and Gary Hornstein’s insights if you want to do church announcement videos well. 
  • Projection Screen Slides ($)
    Photoshop. JPEG. Done.
  • Church Website & Blog (-)
    If you have a good church website, this is incredibly fast, easy, effective (for reaching core members), and low cost.
  • Facebook & Twitter (-)
    The best place to reach people is where they spend their time. 1 in every 7 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook. Use social media. 
  • Lobby Chalkboard Easel (-)
    Find a good calligrapher or fine arts illustrator in your church, and you can have some of the coolest and low cost church announcements around. 
  • Lobby Interchangeable Poster ($)
    Design a large poster for each week’s announcements, print it at Kinko’s, and then place it in a prominent place like where people enter the auditorium.

These are just a few ideas. Mix and match them.

How would you answer this question? Leave a comment to help Mark out.