Many churches forget that Sunday is no longer a sacred day and many people either have to work or have sports events that involve their children on Sunday morning. These same people might be very interested in activities during the week: small groups, activities for children, service opportunities, training and prayer times.How can we keep them cared for and informed?
Though social media is being used by many churches, it is seldom updated consistently or complete in the information it has. Church websites look better than ever, but again, most churches don't keep them as updated on essential details that connect people to events. Realistically, the church bulletin is still the primary communication tool about these activities in many churches and if you don't get the bulletin, you miss out.
Make certain that doesn't happen by having a PDF bulletin on your website that anyone can access even if they have to miss on Sunday morning.
One of the easiest ways to create a digital bulletin is to simply make a PDF of the print bulletin you produce and upload it to your website. The purpose of this PDF on your website isn't to replace the print version, but to add to the communication reach of the content in it. You only have to create the content once, but creating a PDF gives you another way to distribute the information that will help people connect with the church and grow as disciples.
A PDF bulletin can be downloaded, printed, and read like the regular bulletin. This is a wonderful ministry for shut-ins or people who cannot attend Sunday morning regularly.
Don't think either the PDF Bulletin or any form of social media is the only one necessary—you need both.
Remind people your digital bulletin is available through emails, Facebook, Twitter or other social media you use. Social media are effective for instant, brief communication, but your Bulletin can contain much more information and it can be saved and put on the refrigerator as a reminder.Social media is also an ever-flowing stream and it's hard to look up the time to an event or directions or why you should come if you didn't get it (or most likely weren't told it) in a tweet. In addition, the Bulletin can refer to the website for even more details about an event or ministry. In the PDF version of a digital bulletin you can link directly to more information, detailed schedules, sign-up forms.
This is not a time of either/or in our communication methods if we honestly want to involve everyone in the activities of our church that can change lives; it's a time of both/and. This means doing all we can do through every communication channel possible to help people come to know Jesus as Savior and grow to mature disciples. This means creating both print and digital bulletins.
Additional tips if you create a PDF Bulletin
- Be sure the bulletin is available for download on your website by Sunday morning – again, keeping in mind someone who may not be able to attend the church in the morning, but may need information about an event in the afternoon. As soon as you print the bulletin, put it on the website.
- Make the bulletin easy to find on your website. Have a tab or advertisement or box or whatever works on your website to let people know that the church bulletin can be accessed and have the location clearly labeled once a person gets to that section so they know what they are downloading.
- When you save the bulletin as a PDF, you can then save the PDF as a graphic jpg image. You can place a small thumbnail of that image on your website along with the date of the service. Make the image a link to the PDF so a visitor can download the bulletin PDF by clicking the image. You could load up the image to your church Pinterest account if you have one.
- To make your bulletin especially useful to someone who downloads it, insert hyperlinks in your text so that people can find out more about ministries. For example, you could have a link on the title "Children's Ministry" that would take people to the Children's Ministry section on your website. This tip assumes that your website is complete and up-to-date.
A Biblical precedent for making your Bulletin accessible in a variety of formats
We admire the Apostle Paul who said he was "all things to all people that he might win some." Paul adapted himself to the needs of his audience because he knew all of them needed Jesus. He used a variety of communication methods and messages to reach as many people as he could.
We follow his example when we take the time to create print materials, turn them into PDFs, post them online, tell people through social media they are available and create relevant links for people who need more information. If we want people to come to know Jesus in our secular, busy world we need to meet people where they are and use every communication tool possible to link them to our church and to the ministries that will help them come to know Jesus as Savior and grow to mature disciples.