As the publisher of Catholic Church bulletins the question that I am most often asked by pastors is…Where do you see the Sunday bulletin going in the future?
My first reaction is don’t you mean to ask. What do you see in the future for parish communication?
My answer is the Internet. Having an up-to-date website is fast becoming the most effective way to reach all your parishioners. No question about it. Total access 24 hours, 7 days a week. If a person is looking for information, church information, they will Google it or look for it on your website.
That doesn’t mean that your Sunday bulletin is obsolete. What it does mean is the bulletin is fast becoming the brochure to your website. The bulletin is a short, quick informative blast of information.
Bulletin editors are becoming savvy. They can spend more time writing bold headlines, editing redundant copy and adding visuals that engage readers. In part because bulletin services offer layout service that save editors time. No longer do editors have to manipulate copy and photos to fit on a page. Time is a commodity. They can write and send.
Still most parish ministries think the Sunday bulletin is the most effect means of parish communication. Truth is that the Sunday bulletin and pulpit announcements may only reach one third of all the families in a parish on any given weekend. So how can ministries effectively reach their congregations? Repeat the bulletin article, insert a flyer or another pulpit announcement and USE the Internet.
Accommodating every parish ministry request for pulpit announcements can add more than a few minutes to the pulpit announcements and most pastors tend to refrain from a multitude of announcements before or after Mass. The alternatives are clearly the bulletin and parish website.
The bulletin announcement or bulletin insert is the next obvious choice. Most submissions can turn into a short novelette rather than the announcement of a coming week activity. Often writers are not educated in copy writing and submit long and repetitive entries leaving the bulletin editor hours of unwanted revision.
The bulletin should have a singular purpose of highlighting all the activities pertaining to the coming week. A short synopsis of succinct copy, art and strong, attention grabbing headlines will better serve any parish activity. Any more explanation of a ministry other than basic information (who, what, where and how) can and should be re-directed to the parish website.
Our way of communicating has changed the bulletin from a sole source of information to a point of reference for the website. Integrating and keeping continuity between the bulletin and the website is the new challenge.
Note from Sr. Susan: Thank you to Thomas Miner for this guest blog which first appeared on bartlebypress.com blog and was later published by the Catholic Press Association in the April 2014 issue of The Catholic Journalist. Thomas thought it would be of interest to the readers of Catholic Web Solutions.
Your comments are welcome below.
If you have a topic that you would like to write about related to the Internet and ministry (parish, diocesan, religious community or organization), please contact me