When it comes to giving, the humble worship bulletin can do more than just show finance numbers. It can actually improve giving at your church and teach people what it means to be generous. Despite its lowly reputation, the worship bulletin remains one of the best channels, or avenues of communication, for improving how you communicate about giving in the life of the local church. Think about it: every person in your congregation in the building on a given Sunday stares at the bulletin during worship – if worship is boring, they stare at it a lot!
Here are some ways to implement generosity improving changes to the bulletin at your church and to teach the value of generosity.
Use the bulletin to educate the congregation on what’s most important.
Changing the worship bulletin was the first big move I made after I arrived at St. Andrew United Methodist Church.
When I arrived, St. Andrew’s worship bulletin looked like most church bulletins. Here is an example week:
Looks typical, right?
A wall of type, little imagery, boring imagery, little hierarchy of messaging value, no visual or design interest.
In most local churches, the contents of the bulletin are a consequence of the interests of each individual committee, staff person or outspoken member. There is no one person in charge of a cohesive, singular and strategic approach to the messages of the church. One of the parties in this usual scenario is the finance committee, and through their efforts, a chart or spreadsheet appears in the bulletin, outlining the operations picture for the year.
My preference is to offer worshippers: a) why we give and b) how to give, and c) the way generosity results in transformation.
Design the bulletin to align with your core practices as a church, including giving.
Fortunately, the church already had a tool in place that I could use to leverage the change I needed to make.
A few years prior to my arrival, the church had gone through a visioning process and emerged with a 4 part focus: Worship Connect Serve Give. While it was good, healthy and helpful to my problem that the word Give already existed in official church language, but the church had done very little to emphasize the word in its communication.
So I used the church’s strategic focus to re-think the bulletin. I decided to create a dedicated section each week in the bulletin to Give.
Does your church have a strategic focus?
7 ways to use a dedicated section in the bulletin for giving.
I created all-new designs for the bulletin for each of our worship styles (traditional and contemporary). These new designs encompassed several changes that reflect my approach to effective communication.
Now, in each weekly bulletin, there’s a section called Give. The contents of this section will vary each week. I keep a list of upcoming bulletin Give messages in a master creative calendar. Here’s a breakdown of several actual recent weekly Give messages in our bulletin. Each week emphasizes a different aspect of what it means to Give:
1. 3 Types of Giving.
One week highlights that we have a 3-part strategy for giving at St. Andrew: Annual, Special, and Forever. This basic information is exactly what our people need. It helps establish a common framework for understanding how we approach giving.
2. 5 Ways to Give.
Another shows the newcomer or the non-giver (which constitutes 50% of your church) that there are a variety of different ways to give.
ChurchOne Update: Another week we showed the latest update on received funds for our 3-year ChurchOne capital campaign, which is funding an extensive renovation and expansion to our campus.
3. Text to Give
Another week emphasizes our new text to give service, which helps teach people how to use it. Text-based giving basically constitutes an entirely new stream of revenue for the church, and many churches are missing out on this opportunity.
People who have personally experienced the joy of being generous have great stories to tell. Another week we invite one of our church members to share the importance of giving and how it has had an impact in their lives. This example took up an entire page.
5. Changed Lives
Another week tells a story of how congregational giving is funding a ministry that changes hearts and lives. We do this by highlighting a story of a changed life.
Another week educates the congregation on our planned giving ministry, teaching people what it is and where to learn more.
7. Capital Campaign Update
Having a dedicated space for Giving allows you to talk about capital campaigns without feeling like you’re intruding into the “normal” life rhythms of the church. As we go though our ChurchOne capital campaign, we are able to show periodic updates to the giving status in this space.
We run other ads on occasion in the space, but these are the ones that receive the heaviest rotation. (Also, we print in color; I reproduced them in black and white here to show how they can be printed without color to save money and still get a good result.)
What other ideas can you share for how to effectively use a dedicated Give section in your bulletin?