I don’t have figures about churches which have publications. Be it a weekly, a quarterly or an annual print publication. Do you? If yes, I’d like you to share them here.
That said, I have run the weekly publication of my local church in Abengourou, Cote d’Ivoire since June 2011 and it’s been an interesting experience gathering, laying down and distributing information to the congregation. The publication is named “Jubilé” after the congregation itself – Jubilé Abengourou United Methodist Church (UMC).
In my opinion, a printed news bulletin has and will always have all its place in the life of a church despite the digital age in which we find ourselves today. Below are 5 reasons why I think it’s important for a local church to have a print information booklet of sheet of paper.
1. All members are not always present on Sunday
Worship at a sister congregation, travels, or the inability to cover a certain distance – particularly for elderly persons – are some reasons for which a congregation’s membership may never be 100% on a Sunday morning. From this perspective, a well-coordinated printed bulletin will always be useful as such members would like to be updated on what happened in the community during their absence. At least basic information such as the name of the preacher, the topic preached and a summary of the sermon. Recent developments in the community can also feature in the bulletin.
2. Announcement time is often insufficient
In the United Methodist Church announcements during service is as important as the sermon. And as such, there is always the need to emphasize on certain information sent over. With this in mind, it’s hard to keep news and interventions on a 15mn time slot. In many congregations I have visited, sticking to 15mn happens only when the service is an ordinary one. This is where the print publication is useful to help keep interventions short and straight to the point while the bulletin carries details of the respective intervention. The local communications committee piloting the printing will know how to adjust the content of the bulletin to ensure long information is published, printed and distributed.
3. There are still hard copy lovers in today’s Church
A printed information booklet gives the possibility to read a hard copy of data at least once in a week. It may be true that digital publications are gaining grounds but we are still miles from a situation where print will be over taken digital. Bestselling and Pulitzer-nominated author Nichoals Carr said while giving a keynote address at the 2014 IDPF Digital Book conference, “When ebook sales were exploding and print sales were stagnant, it seemed a given that ebooks would do to books what MP3s did to discs. The ebook seemed to become the dominant form of the book.” Besides, electronic versions of printed information can be made available for church members who have computers, tablets and smartphones.
4. Keep members engaged with the Word and the Church.
The printed bulletin is a good place to publish content that will keep the members of the church engaged with the Word of God. Christian word games for adults and/or kids are always attractive. I feel rewarded when I see a primary school child holding the bulletin and resolving crosswords or linking dots that will illustrate personalities of the Bible. For the adult, it’s motivating when I get back words of encouragement like “when will part 2 of this testimony will be published?” One day a faithful told me “I like the series you published on the liturgical colors” Very excite she added “yesterday I discovered why the alter is decorated with green during Advent.”
5. Volunteering and full-time job opportunities
Running a print bulletin gives the local church the possibility to offer volunteering positions. If the church has the financial capabilities, it may even create at least one full time job to sustain the activity. This should be done with a lot of care as a church bulletin may not be sold like an ordinary daily news paper. The Communications committee can recruit volunteers who will write articles, search for information and even seek ways to promote the content of the bulletin beyond the walls of the local church. In fact, the bulletin can be a powerful tool to spread the Gospel and bring new souls to Christ. Think about it.
There are many more reasons a local church can have its own paper. It all depends on your point of view. What about you? Do you have reasons to run (or not) a print publication for your local church? I’d love to read your thoughts. Feel free to drop a comment below.