I recently attended a church event where I was extremely uncomfortable.
Mind you—I'm a church person, one who grew up in the church, loves the church, is there every week. My father was Catholic, my mother Protestant and I'm comfortable in many types of services.
But I wasn't at this one.
I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to embarrass the church, but the reason I was uncomfortable (church person that I am) is that I had NO idea what was going on or what would happen next. It took place on a Sunday morning with additional things going on in their regular service.
We didn't know what was happening; what would happen next; how long it was supposed to go on, what we were expected to do. We had no idea who the various people were who got up to speak (and there were a number of them on this day). We had no idea what they were talking about when they briefly mentioned upcoming events.
What was good about what happened
I got a sense of what it is like for an unchurched person to come into a church. I try in many ways to remind people of how confusing it can be if you did not grow up in a church of any kind to make sense of what goes on in any church.
However, in most instances, a total newcomer is saved because when they come in they are handed what to them is "the Program." Most of us call it the church bulletin, but even if the guest doesn't understand all the terms they have a sense of the cast of characters and the order of the events that are taking place. They also get an idea of what the church is about and what else is going on there.
What goes on may seem odd—perhaps like a play to someone who is unfamiliar with that type of play or the actors, but they can follow the structure if not the details in content. Without a Program or explanation of any kind, the uninformed audience member may walk out.
A printed, paper, bulletin changes all that
Even the most simple bulletins make a stranger to the church at least feel comfortable with a small sense of what is going on, who the people are, and what's next.
But it wasn't changed for us. When my husband went to ask for the bulletin (perhaps we came in the wrong door we thought), he was told, "oh we quit doing those."
I confess to fighting anger and irritation, but I kept reminding myself, "This is what it feels like to not know—to not be one of the "insiders" at this kind of religious meeting.
The result—to encourage you to keep printing church bulletins
I know there are many blogs and chats that tell you they aren't necessary—that everything is digital and nobody reads them anyway (which simply isn't true–just because someone doesn't want to come to something you advertised, doesn't mean they didn't read about it).
But printed bulletins are still important. I don't want to repeat myself more than necessary on the reasons why, but below are links to two FREE e-books about church bulletins and why they are important.
Please read them and consider what they have to say. I'm a church person, I love the church and I'll be back. If I was a lonely, confused visitor, I'm not sure I would be.
Click the link following each title to go to the article to download the book: